An Overview

The BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice programme is an interdisciplinary performance-making degree focused on the generation of new and original performances that sit outside of traditional theatre.

This four-year degree brings together performance-makers, educators, advocates and active citizens who challenge norms, break down barriers and aspire to transform the world around them. This is a programme for the curious and creative, who want to become collaborative and socially engaged artists.

At the core of Contemporary Performance Practice is a commitment to the sustainability and social function of performance and how it can be ‘an act of community’.

Students are equipped with multiple skills, not only in performance-making but also in facilitation and working in communities, to create powerful performances everywhere from hospices, prisons and schools to swimming pools, beaches and building sites.

They encounter a range of concepts throughout their studies including social practice, live art, performance art, post-dramatic and post-modern performance, installation, performance research, site-specific and documentary practices.

Students develop their artistry with the care and support of expert mentors in one of the world’s top ten destinations for performing arts education.

They are part of a dynamic, creative community both within the Contemporary Performance Practice cohort and the wider institution, where collaboration flows through the curriculum, offering opportunities to connect with artists from across the disciplines of music, drama, dance, production, education and film.

Contemporary Performance Practice encourages students to claim their education and develop their unique arts practice to make a difference in the world. We seek to develop critically engaged artists who are able to engage with and encounter a range of perspectives, approaches and practices during their studies and beyond.

Groundbreaking graduates from this programme make an impact all across the UK and beyond. Many start their own performance companies including Glass Performance (which developed award-winning young company Junction 25), Superfan (current company- in-residence at the National Theatre of Scotland) and 21Common. Graduates Sinéad Hargan and Anya Sirina were awarded the Bruce Millar Fellowship and Sinéad is also Artist in Residence at the Highland Cultural Collective.

Institution Code:


Programme Code:


UK Deadline:

31 January 2023

International Deadline:

31 March 2023

Class of 2022

Agnes Forrest

Brandon Hindle

Catherine Allison

Fionnuala Featherstone

Gudrun Schmidinger

Jen Kelly

Jessica Kucelin

Joe Kinnear

Julia Gabrielle Elise Darrouy

Kaiya Bartholomew

Nell O’Hara

Rafial Anargyros Tsantes

Sean McGarvey

Seán Talbot

Programme structure

The BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice is a practical programme designed to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding required to realise your potential as an autonomous artist who specialises in the making of performance work for themselves and for others. The concern of the programme is to provide opportunities for you to develop a personal critical perspective, and an arts practice situated sustainably in the broadest possible ecological context. The programme does this through engaging you in the following four strands:

  • Ecological and Social Performance Practice
  • Aesthetics and Composition
  • Critical and Contextual Understanding
  • Embodiment and Wellbeing


You will learn about the methods and strategies of making performance using your autobiography as your material. You are encouraged to question your attitudes, values and understandings, and translate these discoveries into original performance work.

Module 1

Personal Archaeology in Performance (40 credits)

Module 2

Persona and Context (40 credits)

Module 3

Re-imagining Classic Text (30 credits)

You will explore how to apply your arts practice in social and participatory contexts. You will take part in a residency within a community which will result in an original piece of performance work and new site-based choreographic work. This stage of the programme focuses on your development as a socio-centric artist and how you engage with other people.

Module 1

Performance as Social Practice: Experimentation (20 credits)

Module 2

Performance as Social Practice: Application (30 credits)

Module 3

Choreography, People and Place (30 credits)

Module 4

Radical Pedagogy (20 credits)

The emphasis is on the researching artist. You will learn how to create text for performance, supported through individual mentoring by a performance tutor. Your research works towards a performance research document and a collaborative performance project exploring ideas relevant to your own performance practice. You also undertake a professional placement.

Module 1

Collaborations (20 credits)

Module 2

Placement (20 credits)

Module 3

Performance Research (30 credits)

Module 4

Performance Writing (30 credits)

In your final year you will work towards developing a sustainable arts practice that will support your development into your chosen professional field. You will make an original performance work for the Into the New festival. You will have the opportunity to select additional projects which focus on directing, arts in prisons, site-specific work or an international professional secondment.

Module 1

Into the New:
Performance-making or
Producing (60 credits)

Module 2

Artist in Development (30 credits)

Option modules for your final term

Site-Specific Performance / Arts in Prisons / Directing: Re-imagining Classic Text / Secondment (all 30 credits)

Student work

Digital performance

Watch some of the digital output created in the past 12 months by all year groups of Contemporary Performance Practice students.


Graduate Pathways

Graduate Pathways highlights the many ways in which the Contemporary Performance Practice programme enables and supports students as they progress into their professional careers. Looking at opportunities created through the curriculum or with industry partners post-graduation, the publication gives insight into what students can expect from this degree programme.

Current projects

If we are truly contemporary, our research, practice and pedagogy must respond to the now. Here are the current projects we are working on:

Anti-Racism in Education

The evidence of racism and persecution highlighted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 demonstrated that our learning environment, pedagogy and community need to be actively anti-racist. The Contemporary Performance Practice team is committed to developing anti-racist approaches to our learning and teaching environment and curriculum and we undertook a curriculum audit in academic year 2020/21. We will annually review our pedagogy and learning materials and engage in further training and learning to develop our anti-racist practices.

The RCS Anti-Racism Action Plan is available to view.

Art and the Climate Crisis

Students and staff on the Contemporary Performance Practice programme are involved in a range of projects engaging with and responding to the climate crisis and connecting with the COP26 event in Glasgow in November 2021. A range of new works are being programmed as part of the Climate Portals project in partnership with Shared Studios, Harrison Parrot and Scottish Ballet, and supported by the British Council. Collaborations, connections and intimate performances will be taking place between Glasgow and Herat, Afghanistan, Erbil, Iraq, Kigali, Rwanda and Nakivale, Uganda. More information on all the RCS projects can be found on the RCS Green Room.

Contemporary Performance in Higher Education Network

In December 2020, the Contemporary Performance Practice team (led by Josh Armstrong) curated Nexus #1 IN/ACTION, an international event over three days including: collegiate panel and roundtable discussions; invited keynote speakers; sharings of practice, presentations and papers; student/graduate panel discussions; networking and collaboration opportunities; and performative moments from students or staff. Nexus #1, was also the inaugural meeting of the Contemporary Performance in Higher Education Network, which aims to bring together academics and practitioners from international Higher Education Institutions engaged in the education, research and practice of contemporary performance in its multiplicities. In academic year 2021/22, we will continue to develop and grow the network to ask questions about what our art practices and educational processes need to be responding to now.

Research-led Teaching

Our practice-based research/research creation approach makes us distinct in the sector – this is a unique offering of our programme and we are further embedding research skills and an understanding of research as the act of making art. The Contemporary Performance Practice team is actively researching the following topics related to their teaching on the programme: performance research, social practice, ecology and performance, postmodern approaches to multisensory experiences in performance, rewilding performance, chronic pain and performance in the pandemic.

The team has co-authored an article “Training Artists in Times of Crisis” in Performance Research 25.8 Training Utopias which you can read online.

The CPP staff team will present a performance lecture on their research on approaches to interdisciplinarity at an RCS Exchange Talk on the 22 November 2021 and will also collaboratively present at the ELIA event on the Extended Art Student on 1 December 2021.

Developing Digital Performance

After the success of Propel: A Festival of Digital Performance in June 2020,  and our hybrid festival in 2021, Propel: A Digital Festival of Performance, we launched a new short course Creating Contemporary Performance for Digital Platforms and also introduced an online version of the Arts in Prisons module in academic year 2021/22. Now that we can work both live and digitally, we will continue to explore the possibilities of hybrid performance interrogating questions of what it is to work on and with the body at this time.

Developing Graduate Opportunities

Graduate Pathways, a publication documenting the opportunities the programme offers graduating artists was published in December 2020. These include professional opportunities and residencies with Artsadmin, Cove Park, Jupiter Artland and the RCS Archives and Collections; pathways into postgraduate study, RCS-wide opportunities, and graduate stories.

New opportunities have been developed for 2021 graduates including a partnership with Scotland and Venice to attend the Venice Biennale for a month in April 2022 (supported by RKE), two degree shows being programmed for Tramway TV and work opportunities with Origins Young Company and on Climate Portals.

2020 graduate Minnie Crook was the first graduate to undertake the Archives and Collections residency and the first recipient of the Cove Park Graduate Residency was 2021 graduate Sally Charlton.

Developing Partnerships and Collaborations

The Contemporary Performance Practice team is working to build partnerships with organisations within Glasgow, Scotland and beyond. We are currently developing collaborations with festivals and a number of initiatives to support students and graduates of the programme. If you would like to work with us then please do get in touch with Head Dr Vania Gala – we are particularly interested in developing collaborations with international and European arts organisations and networks.

Why choose us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is in the World Top 10 for performing arts education 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 (QS World Rankings)

  • Excellent staff-student ratio and small class sizes ensuring individual attention
  • Opportunities for artistic collaboration across RCS
  • World-class facilities and performing venues
  • Emphasis on preparing you for diverse careers in professional practice
  • Annual, sector-leading festival Into the New features student performance alongside international artists
  • Work opportunities include performance and professional collaborations with cutting-edge practitioners, companies, festivals and arts venues. Projects include work with Imaginate, National Theatre of Scotland, Glas(s) Performance, The Work Room, Tramway, Buzzcut, Corali, Ruth Mills Dance, Caroline Bowditch, ArtsAdmin, Louise Ahl and Nic Green

Student Voice

Yas Mawer

Yas Mawer graduated in 2019 and has performed work around the world. Listen to her experience of studying Contemporary Performance Practice.

Graduate destinations

We place great emphasis upon preparing you for a range of diverse careers in professional practice and there are a range of opportunities to engage with the sector while undertaking your studies. Performance and professional collaborations with national and international cutting-edge practitioners, companies, festivals, and arts venues are central to the programme. Projects include work with the National Theatre of Scotland, Glass Performance, Tramway, Janice Parker, Imaginate, and Nic Green. Several students have gone on secondment to international locations such as the USA, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Zambia.

Our graduates are working as solo artists in the live arts sector; directors and performers in devised, community, or educational contexts, and as freelance drama workers. A significant number of graduates have set up  their own companies. Other graduates have undertaken further study at masters and doctoral level and also become drama teachers, teachers and specialists.

Althea Young

This year CPP graduate Althea Young has been supported by the Research and Knowledge Exchange at the RCS and the British Council to embark on a career-defining journey designed to provide an invaluable learning experience in the visual arts.

Althea will be one of nine students and early career practitioners from nine universities, colleges and arts organisations across Scotland to invigilate Alberta Whittle’s exhibition Deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory at the Venice Biennale.

Deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory is a new exhibition by Whittle that features film, sculpture, tapestry, and painting to tell a universal yet deeply personal story of racial identity, belonging, and place in today’s world.

Virtual Tour

Explore the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in our 360 virtual tour. You’ll be able to see our rehearsal and practice rooms, professional performance venues, production workshops, editing suite, ballet studios and more.


Admissions process

Our admissions processes are designed to be fair, transparent and efficient. The audition/interview approach serves the dual nature of allowing the panel to assess first-hand an applicant’s suitability for their chosen programme and it also affords the applicant the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the nature of that programme and the opportunities offered by the RCS.

In arriving at its recommendation, the audition/interview panel will take account of all aspects of the applicant’s profile i.e.:

  • Performance at audition/interview
  • Commitment to the particular programme
  • Potential to benefit from the programme
  • Academic qualifications
  • Personal statement
  • Performance qualifications
  • Performance/practical experience
  • References
  • Contextualised data
General academic entrance requirements
  • Scottish Highers — 3 passes (grade C or above)
  • A Levels — 2 passes
  • International Baccalaureate — minimum score of 24 with 3 subjects at Higher Level
  • Recognised equivalences (EU and International Entry Requirements)

We welcome the Scottish Baccalaureate and will accept combinations of Highers and Advanced Highers.

We offer a flexible approach to students taking Higher over more than one academic year and/or who achieve their qualifications in more than one sitting.

Subjects required

Within the minimum academic entrance requirements listed above, the subjects required are: English or Drama at Higher, Advanced Higher or Advanced level or equivalent

Language of study

The language of study is English. Applicants who first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Level 7.5 (with a score of 7.5 in speaking) is required.

Direct entry

Applications for direct entry beyond Year 1 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the Royal Conservatoire’s Recognition of Prior (Experiential) Learning policy. If you wish to apply for direct entry, please mark the point of entry on UCAS Conservatoires application as 2 or 3.

Non-standard entry

We welcome applications from individuals whose academic qualifications or English language qualifications do not match (in terms of equivalence) or fall short of the normal entrance requirements, where specified*. Having satisfied the Audition Panel that they meet the selection criteria and demonstrated that they have the capacity to pursue the proposed course of study, such applicants will be considered through examination of contextualised data provided in accordance with the Non-Standard Entry Policy. The appropriate Head of Department/ Programme will make a case in support of the applicant for consideration by the Directors of the Schools and Convener of the Quality and Standards Committee.

*Note that UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) imposes minimum English Language qualifications in respect of international (non-EU) applicants who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK.

Mature students

RCS welcomes applications from mature students, i.e. students over the age of 21 at entry to the programme. Whilst the selection procedures will still be applied, consideration will be given to appropriate artistic experience not normally expected in school leavers, which is deemed to compensate for any lack of traditional entrance qualifications. Successful mature applicants, as for all other applicants, must convince auditioning panels that they have the ability and potential to cope with the demands of the programme. Their progress, especially in the early stages of the programme, will be closely monitored and appropriate advice and support given.


Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system. If you wish to apply to conservatoires and universities within UCAS, you will need to register for both services.

There is a UCAS application fee of £26.50 to register to use UCAS Conservatoires.

To begin a new UCAS Conservatoires application, you will need to register. You can read the UCAS Conservatoires’ advice on completing the UCAS Conservatoires application.

If you need assistance with your application, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires team by telephoning (Monday to Friday, 8.30 — 18.00). Phone 0371 468 0470 from within the UK or +44 330 3330 232 if you are calling from overseas.

Application Deadline Date

The closing date for UK on-time BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice applications is 31 January 2023.  The closing date for International on-time BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice applications is 31 March 2023.   If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your audition recording will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications.
All auditions will take place via audition recording.

Once you submit your UCAS Conservatoires application, please then upload your audition recording to Acceptd – Once you submit your audition recording, this may be followed up with an online interview.

We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2024, you must apply next year.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58. You will also require the following programme code to apply:

BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practice: W310 – Drama Performance

Application Fee

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £26.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition assessment administration fee. For RCS, the audition assessment administration fee is £55 per programme applied for. Fees are not refundable. The fees are paid via the UCAS Conservatoires website and not directly to RCS.

Audition Assessment Administration fee
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £55 per course.

We recognise that auditioning and interviewing for conservatoires, drama and ballet schools can be costly. The audition assessment administration fee charge allows us to offer a thorough and positive experience to all applicants and we encourage you to get in touch to ask the panel questions and

We are committed to ensuring fair access to a conservatoire education for students who have the talent and potential to benefit from it, regardless of their background. In support of this, audition fee waivers are offered to applicants whom financial hardship may be a barrier to auditioning. Please see the audition fee waivers document for more information


It is your responsibility to ask two separate referees to write references and ensure that these are sent to RCS.

The references must be written by two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. You can submit your UCAS Conservatoires application form and send your references at a later date, but they must be received prior to your audition date.

UCAS Conservatoires provides reference forms for you to download and send to your referees for completion.