Level 5

Performing Arts (Acting Pathway) (HND)

Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£7000 per year * Southend Campus
Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£7000 per year * Southend Campus
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If you require any support with your UCAS application, please contact the HE Admissions team headmissions@southessex.ac.uk


Course code: H882

Gain the skills you need to become a versatile and creative performance practitioner.

This award is validated by Pearson Edexcel. Students will have access to Thurrock Campus and High House Production Park, Purfleet.

Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Performing Arts (Acting Pathway)
The nature of the Performing Arts industry is extremely competitive and the opportunities for career diverse. The HND in Performing Arts (Acting Pathway) has been designed to provide a vocational based programme equipping you with the required skills to succeed in the range of career paths available. Our programme provides diverse and challenging learning experiences, whose aim is to extend and consolidate your expertise as a total performance maker. You will in part refine your live performance skills (vocal & physical) alongside developing greater understanding and command of specific techniques in multi disciplines including, directing, devising, producing, adaptation & stage craft. The selection of units enables you to nurture your creativity, developing your own voice as future innovators within the art form. The overriding focus of the programme is based on acknowledging the importance of versatility & diversity to allow for longevity, ensuring that you can become an all-round live performance maker & practitioner, skilled for successful careers in the ever-evolving Performing Arts industry.

Year one

The first year units have been designed to introduce you to the broad spectrum of the Performing Arts Industry with focus on a live theatrical performance specific pathway. You will study some of the core skills of the live theatre performer including, vocal technique (both spoken & singing) & movement skills for actors. With the exploration of theory based studies allowing for the acquisition of a wider understanding of the historical and cultural context of theatre as an Art form. You will be encouraged to develop reflective and enquiring approaches to your work, drawing on independent research in order to underpin your own practice.

Year two

Throughout your second year, an emphasis is placed on theatre making, and honing the transferrable skills required ensuring that you are a viable industry ready performance practitioner. You will have the opportunity to explore current industry trends through developing a cutting edge Contemporary Theatre project in semester
one. Within this year you will have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative project with the theatre company Teatro dei Borgia, resulting in a site-specific piece performed in Italy.

The second half of the year focuses on developing your skills as a director and producer. The programme will help to prepare you to start up your own performance company, in addition to nurturing your own creativity and allowing you to pursue the diverse range of further education or employment routes current within the industry.

Entry Requirements

You will need a minimum of 64 UCAS points from one or more of the following:

  • Access to Higher Education Diploma
  • A Levels
  • T Levels
  • BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma
  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • And English GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C) 

This list is not exhaustive, other qualifications may be considered. Entry to this course will also be determined by the quality of your application, looking primarily at your portfolio/showreel of work,
personal statement and reference.

Entry to this course will also be determined by the quality of your application, personal statement and reference.

Audition requirements

Acting pathway (H882)

  • There will be no face to face interview.
  • Prospective students need to prepare a two minute monologue, this can be a published play but not from a film or a stand-alone monologue sourced from the internet.
  • Present a concept pitch for a directing project of their choice.
  • You will be required to record yourself whilst performing and presenting and must state your name at the beginning to clearly identify yourself.

Exceptional Entry

Applications from mature students who do not possess the entry requirements as listed above, but who possess related professional experience or professional qualifications, are welcome to apply. In the first instance we suggest you contact HEAdmissions@southessex.ac.uk to discuss your application.

Course Structure

This programme is offered in two specialist pathways for you to choose from: Dance and Acting.

Validated by Pearson Edexcel, students will have access to Thurrock Campus and High House Production Park, Purfleet.

Acting Pathway

Students will complete the required units for the  HNC in year 1 of the programme.

The Acting pathway aims to explore all aspects of the domain of performance, from the role of the performer within a range of genres (including, naturalism, physical theatre, contemporary performance (adaptation) & site specific performance (Italy project), to creating work independently as skilled performance makers. You will have opportunities to delve into the role of the director; cultivating industry standard skills to develop you own performance companies. During the two-year course, you will always be working towards performance projects, applying your technique through practice. We aim to facilitate & support your curiosity as an up and coming artist, which will naturally lead you to investigate a wide range of performance topics and worlds, including style, space, character, vocal/movement technique and cultural theory.

Year one units

  • Performing Arts Industry
  • Professional Development
  • Acting (1)
  • Investigation of Specialism
  • Singing (1)
  • Voice & Speech for Actors
  • Movement for Actors
  • Devising Theatre Performance

Year two units

  • Creative Research Project
  • Working in the Performing Arts Industry
  • Acting (2)
  • Physical Theatre
  • Auditioning
  • Performance Project
  • Directing


Timetables are normally available one month before registration, though we endeavour to let you know an outline as soon as possible. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week and may include twilight sessions. Typically, year groups are expected to attend lessons for 15 hours a week spread over three days. We expect you to build on this learning through Independent Study for at least a similar period. For this time, we usually have space available within the Campus or at the Forum in Southend.

Field trips

You will benefit from industry-related work experiences including:

  • Overseas performance project to Italy working with internationally acclaimed theatre company Teatro dei Borgia
  • Trips to London (acting pathway) – for workshops with current industry practitioners, platforms, Art gallery trips & watching current performance work; from fringe venues to larger institutions including Sadlers Wells & the National Theatre

Contact hours

15 hours per week, which is a full three days in college, split 5 hours theory and 10 hours practical.

Both the Acting & Dance pathways have an expectation for students to further develop their performance practice through rehearsal & workshops outside of timetabled classes for which the studio spaces will be made available.

The courses are delivered cross-campus at Southend Luker Road and at our Grays Campus.

Teaching & Learning

The learning outcomes in year one facilitate the discovery of key theories and principles, in acquiring basic practical skills, and in developing a knowledge framework with a limited amount of independence. In year two the learning outcomes are geared towards industry requirements, in developing professional skills, and in synthesizing knowledge with independence.

Throughout the programme there is an emphasis on self-direction, working in teams, and in problem solving. These are inherent within the unit learning outcomes. Units are delivered through a variety of methods of teaching and learning. These include practical workshops and demonstrations, technique classes, group and individual projects, peer group presentations, lectures, seminars and tutorials. All courses emphasise active participation and experiential learning, in combination with the development of research, analytical and critical skills.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, rehearsing, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations. A range of excellent facilities, including the library, the Learning Resource Centre and the Forum, supports your independent learning.

Assessment & Feedback

You will be assessed via rehearsals, research projects, technical application, and journals.

There are no exams.

Course Cost

Adult, full_time: £7000 per year

Fees are per academic year for Home/UK students.

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • Guest speakers, visiting lecturers and industry focussed workshops will be included in your course over the three years.
  • Final Year students will have the opportunity to showcase their final year work at the end of their studies. This may be a local, national or online platform. Event/exhibition costs will be covered by the Faculty of HE. In the past this has included Festivals and at the Towngate Theatre. Students will be responsible for any additional costs associated with the production of their personal project (ie: printing, materials).
  • A residential trip is included in your course fees. The terms of this trip varies from year to year but links directly to unit content and assessment.
  • Annual £20 of printing credit per year.
  • Free Car Parking at Backstage Centre, Purfleet.

Additional course costs can be found here

What Next...

During your second year, you will discuss careers options with your tutor.

Our students have successfully progressed onto a range of BA (Hons) top-up programmes to complete their full degree training, including musical theatre programmes at Bath Spa, acting & dance degrees at Brooksby Melton & Colchester Institute, the performance art course at Arden School of Theatre, Manchester & level 6 dance programmes at Performers College, Middlesex & Bird.

As well as further academic study and performance training, students have also taken up teaching through embarking on the PGCE programme offered here at South Essex.

Other graduate destinations (acting pathway) include:

  • One of our graduates is working in London with the internationally renowned community theatre company Chicken Shed
  • Another acting graduate is currently touring Italy as a T.I.E performer with Theatrino Educo
  • Two of our acting graduates have successfully set up their own theatre company, performing their first show in June 2017 at The Hen & Chickens venue in Islington