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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 costume craft skills, including strong technical competence in pattern-cutting and construction for costume and accessories.

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 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. You’ll also have access to excellent workshop resources, including a range of digital processes, textile printing and 3D making.

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

Supported by a dedicated team of professionals who have worked for theatre companies including the Royal Exchange Manchester and the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as television and film productions, you’ll benefit from a strong support network through our links within the performance industries.

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, with first-hand advice from costume wardrobe professionals.

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.

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

Our innovative students have been involved in making costumes for TV and film, such as BBC’s ‘Poldark’, ‘Frontier’ by Take the Shot Productions, Canada, and BAFTA-winning director Robert Young’s film ‘Curse of the Phoenix’, which won the Platinum Award at Houston WorldFest.

Students have also worked on stage productions such as ‘Wicked’, ‘Book of Mormon’, ‘Wind in the Willows’ and for the Actors Wheel tours of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘King Lear’.

Students have had success in various prestigious competitions, including reaching the finals twice consecutively in World of Wearable Art, New Zealand (2016, 2017), and The Costume Society’s Patterns of Fashion (2016, 2017).

Thinking & making

Study with us and you’ll expand your critical approach alongside developing skills in research and analysis. Our academically robust and intellectually stimulating degree programmes are delivered by our team of academics, technical demonstrators and invited experts who together deliver excellence in learning, teaching and assessment. Our programmes encourage diversity in thinking and making - from practical applications through to reflective, analytical writing.

We provide a dynamic, stimulating learning environment from which to test new models of practice, while investing in the rich relationship between practice and theory - based on the potential in material and visual exploration, collaborative working, cross-fertilisation of ideas, and the exploration of histories and contemporary contexts.

Opportunities for studying abroad are available at our partner institutions, click here for more.

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’ile, to discover immersive theatre and large-scale costume in action.

Have a question for our team? Email: COSTUME@pca.ac.uk
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM: @costumepca

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Modules

Year 1

COST101 Introduction to Costume Production and Associated Crafts

This module provides essential induction and orientation for the programme by the introduction of theories and techniques relevant to costume design. Students will be introduced to text analysis, drawing and fundamental research skills in order to develop characters for costume design within a given performance.

Students will begin to explore the relationship of the actor, designer and audience and their role within costume design and construction.

To broaden the students experience, the examination of costume as a collaborative medium may be explored through a range of potential collaborative opportunities within the college e.g. Film, Media, Game Arts, Animation and Textiles.

COST102 Introduction to Cut and Construction

This module builds upon knowledge and skill preparation delivered in module 101 Introduction to Costume Production & Associated Crafts. It will introduce students to the fundamental techniques and approaches for the cut and construction of costume. Throughout the module, a number of approaches will be explored to produce historical and contemporary patterns using flat pattern drafting techniques and drafting patterns on the mannequin.

An introduction to fitting a costume to the body will support the context and purpose of a costume in relation to movement, wear and tear and aesthetics. Individual skills will be extended through self-study by experimenting with diverse materials and construction methods to encourage independent enquiry regarding the relationship between the body and the performer.

Students will gain confidence in using a range of industrial machinery to form the underlying principles of costume making. Research into fashion history will support practical applications for costume cut and construction. This module will extend the practical skills needed to translate two-dimensional designs ideas into fabrics, decoration and trimmings in module 104 Professional Practice 1.

COST103 Introduction to Prop

This module builds upon and complements module 102 Introduction to Cut and Construction and BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies, by exploring how the body can be modified to help define and create character, Through the addition of masks, frames and headwear, which enhance or change the body’s shape and silhouette.

The module focuses on processes and techniques that are used professionally to produce costume prop items. This is will be achieved through the investigation of traditional and contemporary materials and students will begin to build specialist knowledge and understanding of the discipline.

Research through materials and processes will be further supported by investigation into the context and theoretical studies of global cultures.  

COST104 Professional Practice 1

This module introduces collaboration as a working practice, and the introduction to career paths within costume production and associated crafts industries. The aim of the module is to enable students to begin develop their professional and employability profile whilst gaining knowledge and practical understanding of how to work with potential clients for an outward facing engagement or studio based brief.

This experience will enable students to develop an understanding of professional methods and environments, including roles and potential careers within industry. Having identified areas of development students will work with the module leader to continuously update their Professional Development Plan (PDP) enabling them to identify the experiences and skills they will need to acquire during their 3yrs of study in order to meet the potential needs of their intended career path.

The module will cover personal CV’s, skills audit and the outline of a five year career plan.

BCOP100 Contexts of Practice 1

This module introduces students to key theories and ideas, and provides a range of critical approaches to support the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary art, design and media. Students will study a range of concepts that have shaped the way that we understand art, design and media in its wider historical and cultural contexts. Students will develop core research and communication skills to help them to articulate and contextualise their understanding of the themes covered in this module, and the knowledge gained will support creative practice by developing an understanding of the relationship between thinking and making.

BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies

This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge, through the introduction of new approaches and methods that broaden and extend the student’s understanding of practices both in their subject area, and the wider creative context in which they work.

The module will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches and methods in their subject, and open up possibilities for engagement with practices both within and outside their immediate subject area. As such, this Module complements all of the student’s study to date, and contributes to their wider knowledge and understanding of creative practices.

The module will encourage students to explore new skills, knowledge and approaches including team working and problem solving. Above all, it will encourage critical reflection on the range of interdisciplinary approaches and contexts explored within the module.

 

Year 2

COST201 Form and Function

In this module, students will continue to build upon specialist knowledge and skills for design and construction of costume and its associated crafts learnt at Level 4 (modules 102 & 103) by focusing on complex techniques and processes that shape and define the body. The inclusion of tailoring, fabric dyeing and fabric enhancement, laser cutting and 3D Printing in this module will support student creative avenues within a performing arts context.    

The use of complex materials and technological processes for costume prop making encourages risk taking through the investigation of traditional and contemporary methodologies, it is expected students will experiment with and challenge preconceived expectations for costume making.

Independent study time will give students the opportunity to explore and develop creativity, problem solving skills, and self-management and reflective practice.

COST202 Professional Practice 2

This module will enable students to build on experiences gained in Level 4. It will offer the opportunity to develop their practical and theoretical understanding of the costume industries.

The module will encourage the development of student’s own personal and professional development through workshops designed to enhance communication and presentation skills. This will result in an awareness of the requirements to prepare for self-employment or a freelance career and include marketing principles and analysis, professional portfolio and CV preparation and the application of Copyright and Licensing law to their own practice.

Research into the Costume profession and the concerns relevant to individual interests within costume production will increase students’ understanding of career options available after graduation. Through engagement with the external cultural environment and communities of practice students will have the opportunity to experience jobs roles within their chosen profession, e.g. dresser, wardrobe assistant, prop assistant, design assistant.

This module will run concurrently with other Level 5 modules, it will inform students’ broader practical development by providing them with knowledge of the level of professionalism required to build a career, make a living and continue to engage with their own personal development. Students will be encouraged to take an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to employability reflecting current trends within the creative industries.

COST203 Concept Development & Experimental Practices

This module of study puts into practice theoretical and practical skills learnt in the previous module 201 Form and Function and consolidates potential industry experiences from module 202 Professional Practice 2.

The intention of this module is to provide students with the opportunity and experience to collaborate with performers, directors and costume designers to interpret or design costumes for a live event or exhibition.

This experience will enhance students understanding of professional methods and environments to produce outcomes for a live event, and develop student ability to recognise the role of the maker/ designer as a collaborative partnership with the creative production team and the importance of the function of a costume in relation to the purpose, physicality and needs of the actor.

It expected that students will investigate traditional and contemporary methodologies through experimentation with materials and processes. In addition students will explore aesthetic values, text analysis and the performance space that may inform ideas and concepts.

GCOP200 Contexts of Practice 2

This module extends and develops the themes, ideas, concepts and critical discourses introduced in Year One. Students will attend core lectures and participate in a lecture/ seminar series designed to deepen their understanding of creative practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages students to make considered and appropriate links between their area of practice and wider contextual and interdisciplinary discourses. You will continue to develop critical approaches to research, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between context and practice.

 

Year 3

COST301 Research & Experimentation

This module will stipulate the overarching direction and outline research methodologies that will provide a platform from which the student’s Creative and Professional Conclusion module may develop.

It is a period of reflection on past creative outcomes and the success of their commercial application.  The questioning of theories and experimentation in practical processes will allow students to plan their final project and negotiate a course towards its conclusion considering future career or learning aspirations.

Negotiated proposals for outcomes must evidence indicative inclusion of contextual studies subject matter and creative intent for the final year must be clearly definable at the end of this module.

COST302 Creative and Professional Development

During this module students will synthesise their professional and contextual research, skills and creative intentions with their understanding of professional practice and career ambitions. The module will enable students to position themselves at a professional level for progression to employment, self-employment or post-graduate study.

This module will provide the opportunity for students to assimilate previous industry experiences and continuing to develop relationships within the creative industries. This may include dance, opera, drama, film, cultural environments and communities of practice formed on previous levels of study.

COST303 Creative & Professional Conclusion

This module concludes the student journey to culminating in the final construction of a body of work for performance resulting in a concluding and appropriate piece of work that is a platform for progression into further study or entry into the world of professional practice.

This body of work will demonstrate depth of understanding, creative innovation, and aesthetic considerations, alongside conceptual and technical skills. The students will begin this concluding module by confirming how the interrelationship of their contextual work and their design practice has evolved throughout the final year modules. Expectations of outcomes and intended progression to ensure realisation should be fully supported and queries answered at this stage.

COST304 Contexts of Practice 3

This module provides students with two pathways. Each pathway supports the development of independent critical thinking and requires them to consider and contextualise their practice by situating it within a wider set of discourses and contexts. 
Pathway One - Written Research Project (WRP) is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to creative practice. 
Pathway Two - Contextual Enquiry Project (CEP) is a practice-led research project with critical commentary, in which students conduct an in-depth inquiry intended to inform and reposition their creative practice.

 

Module details listed above are indicative content only.
All modules listed are compulsory.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Staff

Marie Dunaway

Marie Dunaway
Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader

Marie studied BA (Hons) Fashion Technology at Manchester University and gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Plymouth University. She spent two years as an 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, 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.​

Marie is also a member of the Performance Design Education Collective (PDEC). The Performance Design Education Collective is a voluntary association of institutions who educate students in the field of performance design in the higher education sector.

Natalie Piper

Natalie Piper
Lecturer

Natalie is a performer, writer, researcher and educator/facilitator of performing arts. She studied BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance at Plymouth University and later gained a postgraduate certificate in education. With over 15 years experience in industry, Natalie has worked on projects in collaboration with local and national companies including WildWorks, IDC Plymouth, Knee High, Barbican Theatre, Pilot’s Thumb, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Live Theatre, Newcastle. Natalie specialises in non-traditional performance practices, writing for performance and teaching theatre skills to vulnerable adults. Natalie is also a creative director/producer for Pretty Furies, a local theatre company, and is currently working towards completion of an MA in Arts Education.

As creative director and producer of Pretty Furies, Natalie has an established and developing practice, working to engage and empower groups perceived as vulnerable through enriching theatre arts practices. As a performance writer, Natalie seeks to investigate non-traditional and feminist performance, interrogating concepts of performativity and gendered performance.

Natalie is extremely invested in education in its broader sense and is vice-chair of a local governing body as well as a safeguarding governor of a local school.

Jerry Moore

Jerry Moore
Lecturer

Jerry Moore is an experienced costumier, having created costumes for theatre, film and TV, including working on BBC's Poldark and Book of Mormon. He is a specialist in pattern cutting and tailoring.

He has been a lecturer on Plymouth College of Art's BA (Hons) Costume Producton and Associated Crafts programme since September 2018. He teaches on the programme's prop makingm interdisciplinary studies and professional practice modules. Jerry has also run our Short Courses in Pattern Cutting here at the college since 2016.

Since 2010, Jerry has also worked for Theatre Royal Plymouth's Wardrobe Department. During his time there he has worked on such productions as Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, Wicked for Det Ny Teater in Denmark, and Love Never Dies, also for Denmark.

He also works as a freelance Costume Tailor/Costumier, and has worked on a range of theatre, film and TV productions, including Book of Mormon (West End), working as costume designer and Head Of Department for The Ghost Ship (film directed by Robert Young), as well as working as the Children's Tailor for brooding BBC drama Poldark (Series 2 Episode 5).

Jerry studied BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts and MA Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice, both here at Plymouth College of Art. 

Beth De Tisi

Beth De Tisi
Technical Demonstrator

Beth is the Wardrobe Manager at Exeter Northcott and has also worked as a costume supervisor at the Bristol Old Vic, Bath Theatre Royal, Theatre Alibi, The Common Players and Out of Joint.

Beth works regularly with Exeter College supervising the BTech final show and has supervised costumes for Exeter City Council projects as well as working as a costume assistant for the BBC.

Most recently Beth has been instrumental in saving the Exeter Northcott wardrobe stock, with the invaluable help of a team of volunteers.

Tracey Ormston

Tracey Ormston
Technical Demonstrator

Tracey Ormston is a costume maker and designer based in Devon, who specialises in millinery and 3D costume prop making. She has experience across a wide variety of creative disciplines, and her portfolio includes costume making for Norwich Theatre Royal, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Exeter Northcott Theatre, The Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, Exeter City Council and The Tabard Theatre Chiswick.

Past projects have included making costumes for the BBC programme Poldark (Season 2) and working as a wardrobe assistant for Canadian TV series Frontier, both on set and in the workroom.

Tracey has collaborated with many professional practitioners, such as international designer Leslie Travers and director Emma Rice in Kneehigh's touring production of Rebecca. During her time studying for a BA in Costume here at Plymouth College of Art, where she gained a first class with honours, she trained under professional costume prop maker Jeannie Fletcher from Costume FX.

Tracey's interests include all aspects of costume making, from concept through to finish and she enjoys the challenge of making small props to compliment her designs. Tracey's research interests include bringing new technology into costume creation, using materials such as therma plastics, and working with the equipment in Fab Lab Plymouth - including 3D printers and laser cutters - to investigate new ways of creating props and millinery.

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

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

Design by staff member Fiona Chivers (previously a 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

Costumes designed by lecturer Fiona Chivers, made by the students

Work by Tracey Ormston

Work by Jerry Moore. Photography by Katy Sims.

Work by Fiona Gullis. Photography by Katy Sims.

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

Heidi Peace

"Plymouth College Of Art gave me the opportunity to study as a mature student on a course that has changed my career. It gave me the freedom to study locally, which, as someone with family ties and commitments in the area was essential.

During the course I was able to collaborate with other departments, utilising different facilities, equipment and staff, thus giving me the possibility of expanding my skillset in a range of diverse genres that are needed for a career in costume production and small prop making.

One of the greatest resources in the college were the staff, whose expansive technical knowledge, industry contacts and experience has been invaluable both throughout the course and as an Alumni."


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

Our ambitious students have been awarded internships at prestigious institutions, including Glyndebourne, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet and National Theatre.

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 – where students have enjoyed after show talks and backstage tours.

You’ll learn from lecturers who have worked on West End productions for Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and gain insights from visiting professionals like Cathy Tate, Amanda Barrow and Jane Stuart Brown.

You’ll benefit from masterclasses led by experts in specialist areas such as prop making, millinery and costume design and visit events such as TheatreCraft, an offstage theatre careers event in London, and performances including opera, ballet, drama and musicals. In 2017 students created costumes for National Trust properties and exhibited at Destinations, London, where they met major film, theatre and television professionals and presented their work to prospective industry employers.

Our strong international connections allow our students to take a semester of study with one of our partner institutions within Europe and North America, and in turn, we welcome overseas students from those institutions to join us in our design studios, creating an exciting cultural exchange.

Graduates become:

  • Costume Makers
  • Costume Prop Makers
  • Costume Designers
  • Costume Stylists
  • Wardrobe Managers
  • Costume Supervisors
  • Theatrical Milliners
  • Lecturers
     

Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our 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.

Through our professional memberships, you will benefit from access to specialist journals and archives from The Costume Society, The Royal Television Society, and The Society of Theatre Research.

We aim to encourage your creative education, and help you to develop your career through your studies and after. Our Careers & Enterprise office provides support from a dedicated team who are purely focused on developing creative opportunities. And this doesn’t stop when you graduate – we want to keep in contact and help support you through the first two years of your career.
 

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.

Digital Print Bureau and Equipment Resource Centre

Our Digital Print Bureau 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. Our highly experienced Equipment Resource Centre 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.

BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts — Interview

UCAS Code: PW34 Full Time
Part Time

UNISTATS

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