Theatre Arts Degrees
Fuel your passion for theatre

BA (Hons) Prop Making & Special Effects

This creative course focuses on designing and manufacturing props for theatre, TV, film, display and entertainment industries.

UCAS Code: W490
Duration: 3 years full-time

Entry requirements: 2 A-Levels and 3 GCSEs in other subjects grade 9-4 or A-C (or equivalent) plus a portfolio of work or audition to demonstrate ability in the specialist area.
OR
1 A-Level, a Foundation course (or equivalent) and 3 GCSEs in other subjects grade 9-4 or A-C (or equivalent) plus a portfolio of work or audition to demonstrate ability in the specialist area.
English requirements: Applicants who have English as a second language and do not have a GCSE in English will be asked to present an IELTS UKVI certificate or equivalent as part of their offer conditions. They will need to achieve an overall score 6.0, with 6.0 in the writing element and 5.5 in all other sub-elements.
Tuition Fee: £16,500

The assessment of your application will include a review of your grades, interview, portfolio/audition and any experience.

prop making degreeCourse Information

Course Content

Course Content

This course focuses on the design and manufacture of props for film, TV, theatre, display and entertainment industries. Current students come from a wide range of creative and academic backgrounds, but all share a joint passion for design and making. The course explores a wide range of creative techniques such as wood and metal work, sculpting, moulding and casting, decorative finishes, CAD, laser cutting and 3D printing, model making and soft props, to create a broad creative skill set that will support your development as a prop maker.

This highly employment-focused course involves working on many professional client-led projects, work experience, and portfolio development, ensuring you become an industry-ready practitioner.

Teaching Method

Teaching Method

We use a variety of teaching methods, including: 

  • practical and creative studio-based workshops
  • discussions
  • lectures/seminars
  • tutorials
  • small group study
  • self-directed study
  • study trips

Key Features

 Key Features

  • Excellent industry connections that will allow you to build your professional network.
  • Dedicated studio space for prop making.
  • Machine tools, plaster room, laser cutting and 3D printing.
  • Work collaboratively on real-life briefs.
  • High-profile industry links include the National Theatre, Elstree Film Studios, Universal Creations, English National Ballet, Bower Wood, Royal Shakespeare Company and many more.
  • Graduates are now working on major films, TV series, adverts, West End shows and magazine shoots.

Course Structure

Year One

Unit 1

Unit 1: Introductions and Inductions

Unit 1 starts with an introduction to the practical, academic and support systems within the college. The practical inductions focus on the wood and metal workshop, studio and plaster and resin rooms to ensure you are inducted for safe practice and are developing basic relevant skills and knowledge.

Unit 2

Unit 2: Ideas in Context: Performance and Everyday Life

Unit 2 is an introduction to broader concepts and contexts relevant to the arts industries, asking you to explore how they influence and shape your industry and ability.

Unit 3

Unit 3 Sculpture

Unit 3 develops your sculpting technique through a variety of tasks using water and oil-based mediums, such as water-based clay and plasticine/chavant. You will also explore mould-making and casting methods in plaster, silicone, latex, foams, and fibreglass to name but a few. You will also take a look at life casting of a variety of body parts. There will be workshops in finishing and decorative techniques.

Unit 4

Unit 4: Prop Making

Unit 4 explores prop design and individual project planning through the development of work from initial concepts to completion.

Unit 5

Unit 5: Live Project 1

This Unit offers the opportunity to apply practical skills within the context of internal and external projects.
Previous examples are; Replica cannons for historical societies, Star Wars and Marvel replicas for display, giant foam flowers for teaching in a Zoo, an entire Egyptian tomb escape room, a corridor of fish, furniture for musicals, hand props for devised theatre, puppets for touring shows, Lion King mask, Zombie hordes, evil statues for film etc.
Important techniques used when working with others, such as effective communication, problem-solving and personal planning.
All of these are practised working with the second years as props assistants and clients/directors/producers on a wide range of internal projects and external commissions.

Unit 6

Unit 6: Model Making

Individual practices and exploration of the more specialist area of model making for a wide range of potential outcomes.
Key areas of focus are technical drawing, CAD, 3D printing, laser cutting, mechanical systems, and relevant model-making materials.
Previous projects include making models for stop motion animation and scale replicas for furniture designers.

Year Two

Unit 7

Unit 7: Soft Props and Mechanics

Individual project that explores design, foam crafting, pattern making, complex mechanical processes and fabric techniques. This is usually explored through puppetry design and manufacture but can also look at prop costumes as well.

Unit 8

Unit 8 Sustainable Practices in Prop Making & SFX

Unit 8 explores sustainability and looks at how you as a maker can innovate changes to influence your and other practices to a far more greener and environmental future.

Unit 9

Unit 9: Live Project 2

You get to work in a team made up of fellow second years and take the lead on the design, management, communication, production and delivery/installation of props for a wide range of internal and external clients. You will also get to manage a small team of first-year juniors. This will enable you to further develop your managerial skills and understanding of project management.

Unit 10

Unit 10: Ideas in Context: Theatre and Performance Ideologies

Unit 10 explores a context relevant to propmaking and SFX and you get to produce work that shows your developing understanding of your place within a wide-ranging industry.

Unit 11

Unit 11: Work Experience

This Unit focuses on developing yourself as an industry-ready practitioner. You will develop a basic portfolio, digital identity and CV in preparation. You will explore the industry and the range of employment opportunities and engage in work placements to further develop your understanding of the industry. Most years our students spend up to a month in a broad range of companies throughout all areas of the industry. Work experiences have taken students all over the world including America and New Zealand

Year Three

Unit 12

Unit 12: Locating Opportunities for Work

Unit 12 looks at business models for practice and gives you the opportunity to find work and negotiate designs and budgets. Manufacture to deadlines and install work across the UK. The usual outcomes are enhanced networks, broader portfolios and professional confidence for managing and negotiating work.

Unit 13

Unit 13: Professional Development

The purpose of this unit is to develop your industry-focused skills to present yourself as an industry-ready practitioner in your specialist pathway to a live audience. You will explore and apply entrepreneurial thinking approaches, to progress and enhance your employability, and self-employment possibilities by creating new employment opportunities. You will be encouraged to author new works, develop personal and company identities, and identify career paths that show innovation.

Unit 14

Unit 14: Dissertation

This Unit brings your growing knowledge to broader contexts and allows you to explore prop-making academically, through the production of a dissertation.

 

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Unit 15: Independent Make

Unit 15 is your Final Major Project. You get to focus on your strengths, define yourself as a maker and produce an exceptional piece of work that showcases you as a maker for the arts and entertainment industry. The year ends with a range of exhibitions where you get to showcase yourself as industry-ready. Usual exhibitions are in Worthing and London.

Some of our recent alumni careers Three of our alumni are listed in the credits on Star Wars The Last Jedi (Alex McKenzie, Guy Watson and Cecelia Smith)

Alumnus Kyle Whittington has worked on films, theatre and TV, including Justice League, Transformers 5, Red Dwarf and the English National Opera. He also guests at comic book and anime conventions across Europe, giving talks about prop making and costuming.

Alumna Harriet Lansdown has worked as a set designer on shows including Starlight Express, Cats, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, as well as the art department on TV's Red Dwarf.