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BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Overview

Our intensive, practical Costume Production & Associated Crafts programme helps you develop into an outstanding costumier, ready for a wide range of careers in the performance industries, including television, film, the stage and heritage exhibitions. 

You’ll gain the most sought-after craft skills, including strong technical competence in pattern-cutting and costume construction.

Our programme incorporates research into the historical and cultural contexts of costume, as well as giving you an understanding and appreciation of costume design principles. 

The programme encourages you to think about design and to make costume accessories, amongst gaining other technical skills. The hugely diverse range of processes and media that we have on offer makes us a truly exciting place to study costume production.

Students showcase their work in our annual Graduate Shows.

You’ll work collaboratively alongside students in film and other creative productions, and have access to professional new workshop facilities, including digital printing, textile technology and 3D making. 

'Rococo Despair' by student Hannah McArthur, finalist in the World of WearableArt Awards. Photo Credit: World of WearableArt Ltd

We’ll also provide you with a strong support network through our dedicated team of lecturers and our links with industry.

The unique strength of this programme lies in its combination of technical focus with opportunities to experience the performance industry first-hand. 

Students work to live briefs from industry professionals – gaining invaluable skills, experience, and contacts.

What will I achieve?

You’ll learn how to cut and make costumes to industry standard. You’ll develop design and illustration skills to communicate your ideas, and achieve a practical understanding of the rigour involved in making costumes for a range of performance types. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on incoming commissions.

Our innovative students have been involved in making costumes for television series such as BBC’s ‘Poldark’, with Kneehigh Production’s ‘Rebecca’ at the Theatre Royal and for the Actors Wheel production of ‘Dr Faustus’. 

Alongside creating costume and working with fabrics, students also create a range of costume props.

Our students have also worked on stage productions such as ‘Wicked’, ‘Book of Mormon’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’, and alongside BAFTA-winning director Robert Young on his new film ‘Curse of the Phoenix’, which won the Platinum Award at Houston WorldFest.

Students have been finalists in various prestigious competitions such as the World of Wearable Art International Design Competition and The Costume Society’s Patterns of Fashion Award.

Past students have been involved in making costumes for Kneehigh Production’s Rebecca at the Theatre Royal, and for the Actors Wheel production of Dr Faustus. Student Jerry Moore worked as a costume designer with BAFTA-winning director Robert Young on his new film Curse of The Phoenix, winner of the Platinum Award at Houston WorldFest.

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BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Highlights:

  • Gain experience working on live briefs, designing and producing costumes in collaboration with performers to put a show together. 
  • Learn a high level of practical content, paired with a deeper exploration of costume design. 
  • Develop essential organisational and communication skills. 
  • Access outstanding facilities across the college. 
  • Receive support from industry professionals. 
  • Become a confident, enquiring costumier. 
  • Visit Puy Du Fou historical theme park and Les Machines de L’île, to discover immersive theatre and large-scale costume in action.

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BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Modules

Year One

Introduction to Costume Production & Associated Crafts

This module provides essential induction and orientation for the programme. Deconstruction existing understanding and practices to develop skills in costume drawing and construction, which will underpin developments throughout the programme.

Cut and Construction

This module will introduce you to fundamental techniques and approaches required in the cut and construction of costume for all types of performance disciplines. Whilst gaining experience and confidence in using industrial machinery to form the underlying principles of costume making.

Throughout the module, you will explore a number of approaches to how to make historical and contemporary patterns from blocks and by draping on the stand.

Associated Crafts

This module allows you explore how the body can be modified, adapted and changed using additions to the body such as masks, frames and headwear. Throughout the module, you will learn to how to produce 3D shapes from drawings and measurements using professional processes and techniques. This will include surface pattern and embellishment.

Contexts of Practice 1

This module will introduce you to major genres, critical theories and practitioners that have made an impact and contribution to performance, costume and the visual arts. You will study a range of ideas and concepts that have shaped the way we engage with performance in relation to historical, cultural and social processes.

The knowledge gained in this module will support your design ideas and studio practice by developing your skills in investigation, analysis and critical approaches all within a range of contexts and key themes.

Interdisciplinary Studies

This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge in fields beyond the immediate programme environment, in subject areas which are nonetheless relevant to your personal career aspirations, and which have the potential to develop new horizons and feedback into future modules. In order to provide for maximum flexibility and personal relevance ordinarily you will select an elective assignment offered by a discipline outside of your own.

Design and Professional Practice

This module introduces collaboration as a working practice in contemporary costume production and builds on the focus on personal and professional practice in the preceding modules in Level 4 by providing opportunities for public-facing engagement.

It is linked to other modules by providing an arena where students are introduced to the opportunities for synthesis between an individual’s practice and its contextualisation.

Year 2

Form and Function

In this module, you will continue to develop specialist knowledge and skills in design and construction of costumes and its associated crafts within an historical, cultural and dramatic context. Through the investigation of traditional and contemporary methodologies, it is expected you will experiment with and challenge preconceived expectations. Using independent study time to explore and develop creativity, problem solving skills and self-management.

Professional Practice

This module builds on the experiences of Level 4 and offers students the opportunity to inform their understanding of their own personal and professional development through research into the professional concerns relevant to individual interests within the costume production, external cultural environment and communities of practice.

This module will run concurrently with other Level 5 modules and will inform their broader practical development.

It will provide a theoretical and contextual understanding of the level of professionalism required to build a career, and make a living and continue to engage them with their own development.

Contexts of Practice 2

In this module you will continue to develop critical approaches to the study of art, design and media, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Through a series of themed lectures and seminars which take an interdisciplinary, cross-cutting approach, this module encourages you to develop appropriate links between your area of practice and wider debates and discourses.

Concept Development and Experimental Practices

Here you will develop and realise your emerging subject knowledge and skills of Costume Production and Associated Crafts. You will be encouraged to consider the audience to develop increasing knowledge of dramatic genres, through design communication and costume interpretation. Through investigation of traditional and contemporary methodologies it is expected that you will, experiment and challenge preconceived expectations, and develop your illustration and visual communication techniques.

You will apply design and practical skills learnt from previous modules to produce a range of potential outcomes in response to a potential external brief.

Year 3

Contexts of Practice 3

The purpose of this module is to underpin the development of independent critical thinking and to enable you to position yourself as a practitioner by situating creative practice within a wider set of discourses and in across a range of contexts. Working with increased autonomy, and with the support of your research supervisor, you will develop a research project, in the form of a written dissertation, or practice-led research project, that aims to synthesise the relationship between theory and practice and demonstrate your critical awareness and an understanding of art, design and media in its widest context.

Research and Experimentation

 Throughout this module, the emphasis is on the exploration and development of concepts, design and interpretation methods, rather than finished outcomes. It is likely that this intense period of research and experimentation will underpin your Statement of Intent that will clarify your intended outcomes of this year.

Creative and Professional Development

This module will provide the opportunity for students to develop relationships with the costume production, the creative industries generally and cultural environments and communities of practice through their work based on previous levels of study and through continued experiences such as work/practice based learning, conferences, performances, productions and other professional engagement and activities.

Creative and Professional Conclusion (Final Major Project)

This module concludes your journey to culminate in the final construction of a body of work for performance. An appropriate piece of work that is a platform for progression into further study or entry into the world of professional practice.  Such this body of work will demonstrate depth of understanding, creative innovation, aesthetic considerations, conceptual and technical skills.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Staff

Marie Dunaway - Programme Leader

Marie studied BA (Hons) Fashion Technology at Manchester University and gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Plymouth University. Having spent 2 years assistant fashion designer before progressing  onto a career as costumier and supervisor working for a variety of theatre companies including; The Royal Exchange Manchester, The Royal Shakespeare Company and West Yorkshire Playhouse.  Finally settling here in the South West as the Deputy Wardrobe Manager at the Theatre Royal, here Marie worked on West End Productions for Cameron Macintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as supervising dramas and community shows in the Drum theatre.

Marie has delivered teaching and learning across the Extended Diploma in Fashion and textiles course, delivering costume design and pattern cutting.

She has a particular interest in exploring digital technologies for costume design and is a member of The Costume Society.

Fiona Chivers - Lecturer

Fiona is a designer maker and occasional performer. Fiona has completed a BA (Hons) in Theatre Design at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and an MA in Scenography at Central Saint Martins. Her designs were selected for a Linbury award and she won a commission to design Sabina for The bush Theatre.

Since the mid 90’s Fiona has worked as a freelance designer both in the UK and internationally, creating designs for dance, opera, drama, film and site specific installation. Companies include Panta Rei Danse, Moko Dance, C-Scape, Kneehigh, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Trinity College of Music and Holland Park Opera and works extensively with Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Fiona has exhibited at National Theatre, Hanbury Galleries, Chisenhale Gallery, Sala Endanza, Transform and Revelation and Prague quadrennial. Originally trained as a dancer her background has led to a passion for high energy physical performance.

Jason Hirons - Contextual Studies

Jason is an artist/writer/educator with a particular interest in the detritus, flotsam and jetsam of the everyday. Other areas of interest include landscape, walking, critical writing, comics, Actor Network Theory, poetry and performative practices. Since 2001 he has been walking, collecting and archiving the city of Plymouth; this work has been realised in a number of ways, including published texts, performances (locally, nationally and internationally), installations, and public talks.

Having studied Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts followed by a Masters by Research in Landscape from Plymouth University, Jason is a key member of the BA (Hons) Illustration and Ba (Hons) Costume programmess at Plymouth College of Art, fully committed to his role teaching contextual theory and practice across the two programmes.

As one half of Driftingspace – his collaborative research practice with the artist Sally Hall – Jason explores possibilities and concepts around space and place in urban contexts. Driftingspace attempts to read the city through ideas of architecture and the built environment, displacement, entropy and the ephemera of the landscape. The experience of walking/driving through the city, its transitional spaces, and its undefined places are all elements within their ongoing inquiry. 

Beth DeTisi - Technical Demonstrator

Mayada Abu–Rgheff - Technical Demonstrator

Mayada Abu-Rgheff studied BA (Hons) Textile Design specialising in printed textiles at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art. Her graduate work was published in International Textiles magazine.

She has a diverse range of industry work experience within fashion and textiles. She has assisted accessory designers Mimi Berry, Lizzy Disney, fashion designer Tracey Boyd and has freelanced for Amanda Kelly textile design studio.

She has continued to progress her design work using both traditional and digital applications. She has successfully sold laser cut fashion accessories through retail outlets including the Plymouth Museum shop and Green Brick vintage boutique based in Brighton.

She has taught at Plymouth College of Art since 2005 teaching traditional and digital textile print practices to a wide range of learners.

We also work with a range of industry-linked and experienced visiting lecturers including:

Julia Walker, Freelance Prop Maker

Rivka Jacobs, Freelance Milliner

Meier Williams, Visual Artist and Freelance Costume Designer

Jeannie Fletcher, Costume Prop Maker

Amanda Barrow, Costume Maker for Ballet, Dance, Opera and Theatre

Kevin Shaw, Chief Executive & Artistic Director Oldham Coliseum

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Student Work

Design by staff Fiona Chivers – BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts lecturer Made by student Sophie Pring. Photographer: Claire Tregaskis

Frog costume by Hannah McArthur

Costume by Tracey Ormston

Intricate detailing is showcased in ‘Russian Prince’ by Tracey Ormston

Queen Elizabeth I, costume by Jerry Moore, based on The Rainbow Portrait

Work by Emily Jane Mann.

Costumes designed by lecturer Fiona Chivers, made by the students

Work by Sophie Pring. Photography by Katy Sims

Costume by Hannah McArthur

Work by Tracey Ormston

Work by Jerry Moore. Photography by Katy Sims.

Collaborative student work for Much Ado About Nothing

Work by Lucy Gaskin for Much Ado About Nothing

Costume by Fiona Gullis

Costume by Sophie Pring

Collaborative student work for Much Ado About Nothing

Work by Fiona Gullis. Photography by Katy Sims.

Work by Jerry Moore for Much Ado About Nothing

Work by Charley Stanbury

Work by Velia Ansorg and Tracy Ormston for Much Ado About Nothing

Collaborative student work for Much Ado About Nothing

Work by Hannah McCarthy for Much Ado About Nothing

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Students Say

Jerry Moore

"I did a National Diploma course in Fashion and was awarded a week’s work experience at the Plymouth Theatre Royal Production Centre (TR2). I also completed a Young Apprenticeship Scheme course at the College and was invited back to TR2 to sew costumes. I worked there for two years altogether and have made costumes for 20 shows – some of them are touring in Denmark at the moment.

I decided to come back to Plymouth College of Art to get more design experience and a degree qualification in Costume Production to capitalise on all of my experience. I’ve worked with a lot of designers at TR2 and they have all been costume rather than fashion based. There’s a lack of specialist theatrical tailors and lots of career opportunities."

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Careers & Alumni

You’ll be taught by lecturers who have previously worked for a range of theatre companies, including the Royal Exchange Manchester and the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as on West End productions for Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Our ambitious students have been awarded internships at prestigious institutions, including Glyndebourne and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and, amongst many other professional industry links to both theatre and film, we are on the doorstep of Theatre Royal Plymouth – the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the UK, and the leading promoter of theatre in the South West.

You’ll also learn from visiting lecturers who are experts in areas such as prop making, millinery and costume design.

We also organise masterclass workshops delivered by industry professionals, and you’ll have the chance to study abroad for a semester or a year at one of our Erasmus partner universities.

Graduates become:

  • Costume Designers
  • Costume Makers
  • Costume Managers
  • Wardrobe Manager
  • Costume Supervisors
  • Costume Prop makers
  • Lecturers

The programme has strong industry links and students respond to live briefs, gaining key experience and a real feel for what it is like to work in this industry.

Our students get the opportunity to work with companies such as Plymouth's Theatre Royal (the largest and best attended regional producing theatre in the UK and the leading promoter of theatre in the South West), as well as the international Pilgrim 400 project and national theatre company Kneehigh – responding to live briefs and gaining industry experience and contacts.

We also work closely with children theatre and arts company Stiltskin, while other past projects include students working with esteemed director Robert Young for his new award-winning film Curse of the PhoenixStudents Charley Stanbury and Jerry Moore worked as costume designers for the film, selecting and creating costumes that featured strongly throughout.

‘Careers in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art = The Three E’s (Employment, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise)

Through consistent, embedded participation in professional practice throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to engage with the key professional, transferrable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially working in partnership with other sectors either locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to curating, exhibiting, or volunteering, the acquisition of professional skills has been designed and written in to the programmes of study by staff teams with ‘real world’ experiences and supported through engagement with Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Entry Requirements

You will be expected to have obtained qualifications in a relevant subject at advanced level equating to 200 UCAS points (e.g. BTEC National Diploma, Foundation Diploma, A-levels etc) and / or have relevant vocational experience. This can be assessed from a portfolio at interview.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Resources

We offer you a professional working studio and equipment, including spray booth, millinery equipment, and industrial sewing machines. 

You’ll have access backstage at a professional working theatre. And you’ll make use of digital and traditional equipment that complements costume design and making, with opportunities to experiment with screen printing, 3D workshops, digital print and laser cutting.

Facilities at the college include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Drawing Studios

With north-facing windows, a ‘methods and process’ area, individual studio space and a specialist life-drawing studio, our impressive, open-plan, triple-height Drawing Studio is a huge space, perfect for many different activities and specialisms.

Our Costume Studios.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Fine Art Printmaking Studios

A fantastic facility supporting fine art printmaking, our dedicated space caters for a wide range of programmes and processes. You’ll get access to a 150-year-old Columbian press, an Albion press, an historic and rare wallpaper press, and an automatic FAG proofing press, plus a broad selection of metal and wood type, vacuum screen-printing beds, and four etching presses.

Our Printed Textile Design Studio offers a wide range of resources and processes including screen-printing.

Jewellery Design Studio

Housed in our fantastic new Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, this stunning space provides everything for contemporary and traditional techniques in jewellery design, including benches supplied with gas and oxygen, in-house metal casting resources, hand and machine-forming tools, facilities for vitreous enamelling, and a separate chemical room for etching, anodising and patternation. We also have larger metalwork equipment for welding, brazing, cutting and grinding.

The Print Lab and Equipment Resource Centre

The Print Lab offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services. And our highly experienced Equipment Resource staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Textile Studios

With views out to sea and 35 metres of print tables to encourage experimentation, our Printed Textile Design Studios also boast a fantastic Mimaki fabric printer, digital embroidery resources, industrial sewing machines, sublimation printers, a dye lab, heat presses, a tufting gun and a Mac suite. It’s got to be one of the best printed textile workshops in the UK.

Woods and Plastics Workshop

Alongside the latest in new technology, we value the long-standing traditions of making in wood and plastics – and have developed an excellently-resourced workshop that is open to all our students. It boasts a wide range of kit, including an impressive CNC router, plenty of saws and lathes, and strip-heaters, as well as greenwood-working facilities.

Our Photographic cove.

Our FabLab.

UCAS Code: PW34 Full Time
Part Time

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