Performing Arts with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Performing Arts course, with an integrated foundation year. Learn to be a versatile performing artist. Personalise your studies to suit your evolving interests and aspirations. Become a confident, experienced professional who's industry ready.

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Learn to be a versatile performing artist. Whether you wish to dance, act, devise, choreograph, teach or facilitate in the community this course will give you the skills, techniques, confidence and experience to be professional and industry ready. Take every opportunity to explore and specialise in your chosen discipline or work towards being a triple threat performer.

Personalise your studies to suit your evolving interests and aspirations. Study the performing arts in a multidisciplinary way - which you will know is reflective of the industry. Experiment with new things, with the security to be assessed with a focus on dance, drama or musical theatre if these are your specialisms. Build the necessary skills to succeed in higher education; recognise your own strengths and develop as a versatile employable practitioner.

Live Theatre and Dance City are opening studios just a stone’s throw from campus and with Sunderland City of Culture Bid well underway it’s an exciting time to become a performer in Sunderland.

Why us?

  • Musical theatre strand embedded in the course, a popular choice of our students
  • We have a residency with Live Theatre Emeritus Max Roberts, who joins us as a Visiting Professor until 2021 delivering industry relevant modules and employability workshops, including sessions taught at Live
  • Professional theatre venues used for assessments plus external opportunities to perform in professional productions. Previously students have appeared in Cilla: The Musical, Evita and have performed alongside Jack Whitehall
  • We’re part of the Live Tales Sunderland project with Live Theatre, giving our students opportunities to build their professional experiences
  • Opportunity to specialise in Stage 3 in either drama, dance or musical theatre 
  • Placement opportunities throughout the three years of study in both education and community adds to the development of skills for a broad range of careers
  • 'World-leading' research in Music, Dance and Performing Arts, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • 100% of our BA (Hons) Performing Arts graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Flexibility to create a pathway of study based on your areas of interest or career destination


New Sunderland Culture logo

A city brimming with creative potential

Offering a year-round programme of exhibitions, events and performances, Sunderland Culture brings big-name artists from the worlds of contemporary visual arts, glass, ceramics and performance to the city, alongside showcasing the best and most exciting local talent. There is a huge range of opportunities for students to visit the venues, take part in events and get involved in the programme. Learn more about Sunderland Culture.

Course structure

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules; a module about the foundations of art, design, performance and media production, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and an introduction to creative practice module. After completion of this foundation year, you will then move onto the Performing Arts honours degree course.

Teaching is largely studio-based with supporting lectures, seminars, workshop discussions and independent learning. Most modules integrate theory and practice and we use tasks and problem-solving to engage you in interactive learning.

Assessments are often practical or performance-based and also include presentations, essays and evaluations. We provide regular feedback to help you identify strengths and build on areas of weakness.

For those of you with a dance focus, expect to study contemporary, classical and commercial styles, to choreograph stage and tour dance work. If you have a drama focus you will explore a range of exciting and relevant dramatic practices. If you wish you can mix up your choice of modules, all students can choose to undertake a placement.

Whatever your route – you will perform at a range of venues and in a professional theatre.


The Creative Industries: Arts, Design, Performance, Media Production Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Foundations of Art, Design, Performance and Media Production (40 credits)
  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Creative Practice (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.




Year 1 (national level 4):

Core modules

  • Triple Threat Performer (40 credits)
  • Performance and Me (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose three)

  • Actor Training (20 credits)
  • Dance Performance (20 credits)
  • Jazz, Urban and Commercial Dance (20 credits)
  • Theatre for Social Change (20 credits)
  • Theatre Production 1 (20 credits)


Please note, modules are subject to review.

Year 2 (national level 5):

You will build on skills developed from the previous year, introducing experimental practices, and political, social and contextual underpinning to performance work. You can continue the strand of Musical Theatre (building on Triple Threat Performer) and Community/Education/Therapeutic work (building on Theatre for Social Change), as well as further developing your performance skills.

There is a greater emphasis on creating, devising and choreographing to broaden your skill sets and prepare you for the final year of the degree. You will have the opportunity to work with Live Theatre, Beamish Museum, Customs House South Shields as well as undertake short work placements.

Final year (national level 6):

The final year of the degree is focused on career development and ensuring you are prepared for postgraduate study or the performing arts industry. You will continue to be offered experiences in Musical Theatre, Community/Education/Therapeutic work, performing opportunities and creating your own work.

An independent project enables you to explore your individual career aspirations which can take the shape of a dissertation, or practical-based project.

The University also has its own in-house performing company DUSC, which tours with an original piece of work each academic year and multiple opportunities surrounding this are available in your final year. As in previous years, you will be given opportunities to work with external companies, schools, local businesses, local artists and performing venues, through work placements, performances, collaborative work and workshops.

  • At our City Campus, the University’s facilities for dance and performing arts include:

    • A main studio with a state-of-the-art lighting rig, a cyclorama for digital work and portable seating for small public performances
    • A second dance studio
    • Rehearsal space
    • Two dressing rooms
    • Cameras and edit suite

    We’ve got a large collection of books, e-books and audio-visual materials related to dance, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of journals so that you can access the most up-to-date research and information.

    During your time as a student, you can take advantage of opportunities to participate in University-based dance and drama societies as well as the choir and musical theatre performance projects.

    City Campus
  • We’ve got thousands of relevant books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to- date academic and industry articles. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format.

    Library Services - general
  • Map and directions


This course is based at the Priestman Building, the main base for art, design and performance on City Campus. Thanks to a major renovation programme, the Priestman Building provides state-of-the-art teaching spaces and resources as part of a vibrant and creative learning environment.

We're working closely with the exciting developments in the City which will see the opening of studio's for Live Theatre and Dance City, a few minutes walk from Priestman Building.

You can also take advantage of opportunities to participate in University-based drama and dance societies, musical theatre performance projects and the choir. 




Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

Students graduating at the Stadium of Light


You will gain highly transferable skills in communication, presentation and collaboration with others. These skills, together with a track record of creativity, provide a valuable advantage when it comes to applying for many different fields of employment.

Career options

This course prepares you for roles in the performing arts such as:

  • Performer (dancer/musician/actor)
  • Teacher of dance/music/drama
  • Entrepreneur in dance/music/drama
  • Producer
  • Arts administrator/manager
  • Freelancer/self-employed in community arts education
  • Practitioner of arts/music therapy

Links and contacts

The academic team have an extensive network of professional, education and community contacts in the region. You will benefit from these in your negotiated projects, workshops and visits.

Where possible we invite visiting companies and artists to the University. Examples include Opera North, The Royal Shakespeare Company, South Paw Dance Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rosie Kay Dance Company, Rambert Dance Company, Live Theatre; Newcastle, Open Clasp, RashDash, Dramatrain, Geese Theatre Company, Bell & Bullock Circus Theatre, Dell A’Mimi Circus Training and The Stand Comedy. We also encourage visits to theatres, events and exhibitions.

Work by our students is hosted by venues such as The Customs House South Shields, National Glass Centre, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Washington Arts Centre, The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Arts and The Empire Theatre. These venues also hold master classes led by visiting artists.

Placements and projects

'Live Project' modules allow you to take educational and professional opportunities as they arise. Examples include the production of a new play performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a cross-generational performance with a professional choreographer and dancers. Many projects are sited in schools and the wider community.

We also arrange end-of-year performances within a professional arts venue, working alongside schedulers, box office staff, technicians and professional performers. Your involvement in these performances develops skills in marketing, design and communication with venues.

All students studying on-campus undergraduate Performing Arts courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp. By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis.

Meet the students

Meet the team

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