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BA Performance in British Sign Language and English

The only degree course for Deaf performers in the UK.

Prepares you for a career in the creative industries.

Overview

Do you identify as D/deaf or hard of hearing?

Do you want to perform or create work on stage and screen?

Are you keen, curious and ready to work?

We want to meet you!

We train students to become both actors and theatre- and film-makers.

We will teach you the skills you need to prepare you for a career in film, television, theatre and more.

This is a practical course. You will develop skills in acting, movement, devising, signing on stage, improvisation and puppetry. We explore highly visual and physical performance styles, short-film-making and workshop-leading.

This course is designed around the learning needs of deaf performers and is the only one like it in Europe.

The working languages of the programme are British Sign Language (BSL) and spoken English. It is your choice. You will have fully-qualified BSL interpreters in classes and in rehearsal.

The small class size means you work closely with our teaching staff and visiting professionals.

You will also benefit from our many professional partnerships including Solar Bear and National Theatre of Scotland.

If you are interested, you can visit us or get a taste of classes free online.

Please contact hello@rcs.ac.uk to find out more

The programme recruits students every 3 years and the next group is due to start in September 2025. Direct entry will also be considered to the current group.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
31 March 2025

International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
31 March 2025

Apply:
Directly to RCS

Audition Fee:
£55

Application Fee:
£27.50


Why Study BA Performance in BSL and English at RCS?

By studying BA Performance in BSL and English, you will be studying in a World Top 10 Institution for Performing Arts.

Students using BSL rehearse for the performance on Second Person Narrative

The only degree of its kind in Europe


An actor using sign language to perform a scene from 'Second Person Narrative'.

The majority of core staff on the programme use BSL


Actresses perform a scene from Second Person Narrative

There are interpreters provided in every class


Students using BSL rehearse for the performance on Second Person Narrative

Small class size means more personalised support


Two students act in a The Coat scene. One stretches a blue thread while the other looks up at the action.

Work with students from across the different courses in RCS


Industry showcases in both Glasgow and London


Students using BSL rehearse for the performance on Second Person Narrative

80% of graduates in 2018 went straight into professional work upon graduation


Jenny Sealey MBE is the programme patron


Meet the Staff

Additional Staff

Our department regularly welcomes visiting artists and masterclass hosts.

  • Jenny Sealey 
  • Nadia Nadarajah 
  • Paula Garfield 
  • Lu Kemp 
  • Ruxy Cantir 
  • Gavin Glover 
  • Lewis Hetherington 
  • Jennifer Bates 
  • Sanjay Lago 
  • Chisato Minamimura 
  • Simon McCallum 
  • Jairus Obayomi 
  • Joan Cleville 

Professional Partners

We have professional working relationships with many industry partners including: Deafinitely Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Graeae, BBC Scotland, Birds of Paradise. 

Two of our main partners are: 

Solar Bear

The programme has been developed in association with Solar Bear Theatre Company with input from a range of theatre, education and deaf professionals. We maintain a strong relationship with them. 

Solar Bear is now a co-Deaf and Hearing-led company. Their Deaf Youth Theatre is a training ground for potential BA Performance students of the future. They also provide valuable post-graduation work opportunities through mentoring and supported development of theatre work. 

In addition, Solar Bear is leading on practical research into Deaf film-making, working with English text in rehearsal and best practice when working with BSL users in creative settings. 

 

Glasgow Film

We also have a partnership with Glasgow Film through their innovative screening strand: Visible Cinema through which our students choose, present and discuss Deaf-led films with audiences. 

A student acting in a scene from Second Person Narrative.

Graduate Destinations

Graduates from first 2 cohorts (Graduation years 2018/2021) are busy working in a variety of settings and roles: actors, directors, writers, workshop leaders, consultants, BSL performers, producers.

As is the aim of the programme, they are demonstrating the ability to maintain and thrive with a portfolio career: as actors, makers of work and more broadly.

They are also changing the landscape of performance locally, nationally and internationally, raising the profile of Deaf performance and bringing it to a wider audience.

Below are a few examples of their recent work:

  • Craig McCulloch has recently taken on the role of Trainee CEO of Solar Bear Theatre Company in Glasgow co-running the company with Jennifer Bates. He still runs their Deaf Youth Theatre with fellow graduate Amy Murray. This is a training ground for future Deaf performers and from where a number of our students and graduates began their journey. Our students and graduates continue to work with this innovative theatre company, who were instrumental in helping to set up the course.
  • Most recently graduates created a touring show based on 3 separate pieces of visual theatre.
  • Edinburgh Deaf Festival celebrated its 2nd year, this time curated and produced by graduate Jamie Rea. Featuring a number of graduates of the course, the festival is now part of the Festival scene in Edinburgh running alongside and partnering with the Fringe. Audiences for shows are a healthy mix of Deaf and hearing, while the festival also serves to give greater access to the other festivals to Deaf theatre-goers.
  • Jamie also developed and co-stars in a short film directed by Glasgow multi-hypenate, Cora Bisset. ‘The Singer’ has recently been screened at the BFI in London. 
  • Graduate of both BA Performance and MA CCT, Benedetta Zanetti has written and directed her first short film, ‘Look at Me‘ which featured one of our current students, Yuki Neoh alongside other RCS alumni. This film has recently been selected for the Glasgow International Short Film festival.
  • 3 graduates toured in the game-changing Ramps on the Moon production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing‘. The organisation is a collaboration of 6 UK theatres creating annual productions that feature Deaf and Disabled actors in mainstage shows. 
  • Graduate Amy Murray featured in the Netflix series Witcher: Blood Origin‘ which premiered at Christmas last year. Watch her talk on the red carpet about the importance of Diversity in high-profile TV and film.
  • Graduate Irina Vartopeanu has recently appeared in Jellyfish’s The Jungle Book. Afterwards she joined the cast of Disciples with Stellar Quines in Edinburgh.

Programme Structure

This is a foundation year where you learn skills. You study:

Acting — exploring character and situation from a script. You also develop your understanding of acting for camera.

New Work/devising classes teach you how to make original theatre based on your own ideas.

In the Register and Text module you learn to develop your signing and/or vocal skills. Movement classes develop an understanding of how you use your body in an expressive and creative manner.

Visual theatre classes explore a range of performance ideas from a D/deaf perspective.

You will also have an opportunity to collaborate with students from across the conservatoire.

This is a project-based year where you apply your skills in new contexts.

The first is a public performance – you work from a script and allows you to develop your acting skills through a full rehearsal and production process.

The Outreach module gives students the opportunity to create and deliver workshops to schools and community groups.

The Off Kilter festival is a chance to create and perform your own pieces of devised work alongside students from other courses.

In Script to Screen, you learn to generate and write ideas for short films to be made in your final year.

Second year is also the beginning of Professional Preparation classes which start to get you thinking about working in the industry after graduation.

In your final year you will put the two strands of acting and performance-making together. The curriculum includes three public performances:

One is a co-production with another theatre company.

The second is a professional showcase to agents and casting directors.

The last is a devised or adapted piece of theatre where you will use your skills to create work across our two working languages.

Also, students’ short films are developed, filmed and screened.

We also encourage students to work professionally if invited to do so.

You will continue to develop your professional practice, employability and business skills so that, when you graduate, you are well equipped to manage your career as a professional performer.

Thinking About Applying?

The BA Performance in BSL and English Department are offering free Zoom workshops for students wishing to apply for next year or for future years. For more information on these and how to join, please contact our team at hello@rcs.ac.uk or via WhatsApp video message on +44 (0) 7961 773 630.


Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

You need to audition to be accepted on to the course. Details below.

There are no formal academic entrance requirements for this programme. Applicants will be asked to:

  • Self-assess their language competency at point of application using the European Common Framework of Reference (ECFR);
  • Compose a personal statement explaining their background, motivation and experience either in written English or filmed BSL;
  • Supply references. References can be supplied in either English or BSL.

All applicants must show 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 help given.

Language of Study

Our two working languages are BSL and/or English. If your native language is different, you must be prepared to learn either of these languages so you can study here easily. Your performance application videos can be in your native language.

For international students we can offer BSL classes before you arrive. For information, please contact our team at hello@rcs.ac.uk or on +44 (0) 7691 773 630.

Direct entry 

Applications for direct entry into Year 2 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the Royal Conservatoire’s Recognition of Prior (Experiential) Learning policy. 


Fees & Funding

Tuition fees

  • Scotland: £1,820
  • RUK: £9,250
  • International: £27,968

Funding & Scholarships

You can find out about the funding and scholarships available for studying at RCS by visiting our dedicated page:

Funding & Scholarships

Cost of Living & Programme Costs

In addition to tuition fees, it is estimated that you will need between £11,200 and £15,300 per year to live in Glasgow, plus programme costs. Much will depend on your lifestyle and whether your course runs for three or four terms. 

Undergraduate Programmes within the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film have a range of associated costs related to the specific activities required and advised by the programme team. In order to ensure fairness and parity of experience in relation to certain core programme activities a one-off payment to cover a proportion of necessary costs is required of the student at matriculation. You can find these costs in the pdf below: 

BA Performance in BSL and English Programme Costs


How to Apply

Apply Direct to RCS

Applications are made directly to the Royal Conservatoire. Contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk to receive an application form.

Application/Audition fees

There is an audition fee of £55. Fees are not refundable.

Fees can be paid directly to the Royal Conservatoire by phoning 0141 270 8233 or paid directly to the Finance office – please contact finance@rcs.ac.uk for bank transfer details.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is 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 whose financial hardship may be a barrier to auditioning.

References

You must ask two separate referees to supply references and ensure that these are sent to the Conservatoire.  References can be supplied in either written English or BSL.

The references must come from two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. Please send the forms to your referees to complete and return to RCS either via post: Admissions Office, RCS, 100 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, G2 3DB or via e-mail: references@rcs.ac.uk

Audition Information

We are currently reviewing the audition information for this programme. Details will be available here soon.

Recall Auditions

Following submitting your audition recordings, you may be invited to a recall audition day. This will involve group workshops led by staff from the programme and an interview which could happen either online or in-person depending on your location and preference. We may ask you to perform your Acting/and or Devised piece (the piece you recorded) live and we might re-work it with you. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions about studying and life at the Conservatoire. 

Questions?

If you have any questions about applying to this programme, the audition process, or if you need help completing your application, please contact our team at hello@rcs.ac.uk or on +44 (0) 7961 773 630 – you can also video message us through WhatsApp.

To make an appointment for a video call with the departmental team, please email Head of Programme Mark Stevenson: M.Stevenson@rcs.ac.uk

More from BA Performance

A Selection of work from BA Performance

Graduate Moira shares her experience

Why RCS?

We are the only place in Europe where you can study all of the performing arts on the one campus. There is a distinctive creative energy at RCS and you’ll be made to feel part of our inclusive and diverse environment from the very beginning of your studies.

Our graduates are resourceful, highly employable and members of a dynamic community of artists who make a significant impact across the globe.

At RCS, students develop not just their art but their power to use it.

Find out more 

A ballerina wearing a teal dress jumps over the Kelpies monuments in Scotland during a grey day.

World Top Ten


We were voted one of the world’s Top Ten destinations to study the performing arts (QS Rankings) in 2024, the eighth time we have been placed in the top ten since the ranking was established in 2016.