West Thames College London

Performing Arts - Higher National Diploma (HND)

Programme Specification

This two-year higher education course is practical and vocationally focused, and aims to prepare you to move to a degree course or into employment. It is production-based, with a strong element of practical work covering all aspects of performing arts from research, performance and production to professional practice and management. The Higher National Diploma in Performing Arts aims to:

  • Develop your general ability in Performing Arts through effectively using and combining knowledge and skills gained in different parts of the programme
  • Provide specialist studies in Performing Arts across a range of disciplines, including rehearsal and performance, movement and voice, singing, contemporary and jazz dance
  • Provide a taught programme of study to support you in learning new skills and in developing your individual practice, within the culturally diverse environment of West London
  • Provide enhanced tutorial support to help you develop your educational and vocational abilities, and your personal qualities and attitudes
  • Develop the ethos and creative process of a small, touring production company
  • Provide the foundation for a range of administrative, technical and creative careers in Performing Arts, where you could make a staged contribution to employment
Key course features


  • BTEC (EdExcel) Higher National Diploma Performing Arts
  • JACS Code: 034W
  • Institution Code: W65
  • Date of production: December 2003
  • Date of revision: June 2005
  • Further revision: September 2008: minor changes & new unit list; September 2013: new unit list

Level: Level 5

Mode: Full-time

Start Date: 25 September 2017

Who is this course for?

Dedicated students who want to become actors and performers, including mature students with non-traditional qualifications. The course is highly practical but it also demands academic ability.

About the course

The course is delivered by enthusiastic staff with industry experience. It is divided into core and optional units covering all aspects of performing arts from research, performance and production to professional practice and management. Throughout the course you will develop skills in acting, dance and singing.

You will spend a minimum of 14 hours at college per week. At least 80% of this time will be spent with a professional lecturer. In addition to this you will be expected to work independently.

The course is structured around three areas of study:

  • Performance work: in our studio theatre
  • Knowledge: independent and group research in the history of contemporary theatre, how theatre companies work, copyright and health and safety
  • Skills: including acting technique, movement for actors, voice, singing and dance, and basic stage design.

You will study:

  • Acting for camera
  • Alternative approaches to acting
  • Creative arts professional practice
  • Creative arts research skills
  • Dance for musical theatre
  • Devising for performance
  • Employability skills
  • Movement for the actor
  • Naturalistic acting
  • Physical theatre
  • Singing for musical theatre
  • Theatre in education
  • Applied contemporary performance practice
  • Classical acting
  • Innovative theatre performance
  • Jazz techniques and performance
  • Outreach drama
  • Peforming arts workshop leadership
  • Preparation, process and production
  • Singing techniques and styles

You will use our Endeavour Theatre and dance and performance studios with a rehearsal room and costume department.

You will set up your own production company and run performances in college and on tour.

Information correct at 23 June 2016.
Additional opportunities

Recent projects have included work with the Donmar Warehouse and Theatre in Education tours of devised work to local primary schoools. There are also trips to view theatre performance and exhibitions in central London.

How will I be assessed?

The course is continually assessed through vocationally based assignments, finishing with a major project and assessed show.

Regulation of standards:

  • Assessment conforms to Edexcel regulations
  • Internal Verification of assignment briefs and assessment standards
  • External moderation of samples of work by external examiner
  • Public performance, inside the college and at external venues, to show standards of work
Where next?

Second or final year of a BA (Hons) degree or work on stage or behind the scenes in film, theatre or TV productions.

The college boasts numerous success stories including students who have secured parts in films and TV productions, while others work in dance companies and the theatre both on stage and behind the scenes.

Entry requirements

The standard minimum entry qualification is a grade E at A Level, National Diploma or equivalent, preferably supported by a pass in GCSE English.

We encourage mature students to enter with a pass in an appropriate Access Certificate. We consider other background and experience and may accept students without formal qualifications.

All students are interviewed and given an audition before an offer is made. The International Office will organise an appropriate interview for overseas students: telephone or portfolio or as required.

If you need advice before you apply, please call 020 8326 2020 or email info@west-thames.ac.uk.


This fee is for one year of study and may be subject to change in subsequent years. The course fee is usually covered by your student loan and you will not need to pay this back until you have completed this course and when you are earning over £21,000 a year. Home students may receive a bursary of £600 to help towards expenses (usually in February, subject to satisfactory attendance and progress on the course).

Please note that if you have already achieved a degree, you will be liable to pay a higher fee (£7,000 in 2014-15).

The fee for international students for 2015-16 was £8,000 and the 2016-17 fee is to be confirmed.

How to apply?
Please apply via www.UCAS.com or click the "apply now" button below and fill out the online application form. An adviser will be in touch regarding interview dates.


  1. Neil Reynolds

    Level 3 Performing Arts

    Neil Reynolds

    "We do a lot of different genres so we can do anything that's thrown at us. The course has really helped me with my comunication skills and with auditioning. In April I played a main role in a TV show called T BOY on London Live. It was my first major performance and the course really helped me and gave me the confidence to do it."


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