Performing Arts BA (Hons)

Apply Now

Learn to be a versatile performing artist. Personalise your studies between dance, drama and musical theatre, to suit your evolving interests and aspirations. Become a confident, experienced professional who's industry ready.

Apply for a Clearing place


Explore and specialise in dance, drama or musical theatre or work towards being a triple threat performer. 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.

Personalise your studies to suit your evolving interests and aspirations.

Study performing arts in a multidisciplinary way - which you will know is reflective of the industry. Experiment with new things, create a personal pathway, with a focus on dance, drama or musical theatre or a mix of all three. Build the necessary skills to succeed in higher education, recognise your own strengths and develop as a versatile employable practitioner.

If you were seeking to study on our BA (Hons) Dance or BA (Hons) Drama courses, we encourage you to apply for this course instead. Our links with industry show that employers are looking for graduates with a wider understanding of performing arts and we want you to graduate with the best opportunities possible that will prepare you for a dance or drama related career.

Why us?

  • Flexibility to create a pathway of study based on your areas of interest or career destination
  • Opportunity to specialise in Stage 3 in either drama, dance or musical theatre
  • 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
  • We’re part of the Live Tales Sunderland project with Live Theatre, giving our students opportunities to build their professional experiences
  • Professional theatre venues used for assessments
  • 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)

Course structure

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 contemporary and devising practices, acting and directing styles.

You can mix up your choice of modules and all students can choose to undertake a placement. Whatever your route, you will perform at a range of venues and in professional theatres including Arts Centre Washington and The Customs House, South Shields.

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day time and you will be studying alongside full-time students.

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

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.

Priestman Building,
Green Terrace,


  • 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
  • The University Library subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

    Our experienced Library team provide a high-quality service and are sensitive to the requirements and working methods of our students. A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

    Students are encouraged to develop their research skills, working with lecturers and library staff to cultivate their knowledge of contemporary and historical perspectives of performing arts, as well as the wider contexts of their subject.

    The key resources for your course include:

    Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

    Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

    Dance in Video: Giving access to dance productions and documentaries in the 20th century

    JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Providing access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

    Lexis: A major resource of full-text newspaper articles and legal information

    Library Services - performing arts
  • The University’s facilities for Performing Arts include:

    • The 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
    • A drama studio
    • Rehearsal spaces
    • Cameras and edit suite
    • Music technology equipment
    • Video editing suites
    • TV studio
    • Radio station
    Performing Arts Facilities


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 space and resources as part of a vibrant and creative learning environment.

Dance City and Live Theatre recently opened studios, just a stone’s throw from campus. With the city investing in culture, it’s an exciting time to become a performer in Sunderland.

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

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Additional requirements

For the interview, please prepare a two minute piece to demonstrate your skills in dance/drama/music and as wide a range of performance abilities as possible.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are an international student

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £5,000 per 120 credits.

Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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.

You are viewing entry requirements for visitors from United States. Not from United States? Change your country preferences.

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. Extracurricular dance technique classes are available throughout the week with a range of guest teachers.

Where possible we invite visiting companies and artists to the University. Examples include Opera North, 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 masterclasses 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.

  • Some tutors specialised in drama for children and completely understood where I was coming from.
    Kirsten McCrossan, Drama graduate case study

    Kirsten McCrossan

  • As the course emphasised creativity and independence, I flourished as a thinker and practitioner.
    Patrick Ngabonziza, Dance student case study

    Patrick Ngabonziza

Meet our academics

Sign up to receive more information

Sign up to receive emails about your subject area.

Oops! You've not opted in to receiving other useful information about the University of Sunderland.

Using Your Personal Information
The University of Sunderland is collecting this data in order for you to receive information on your chosen subject(s). Your information will be stored securely in our Customer Relationship Management system which is provided by a 3rd party and used only for the administration and provision of this information. Should you choose to opt in to further communications we will also use your information to facilitate other useful marketing information based on your preferences. Further information on how your data is stored and used can be found in our Privacy notice - marketing.