• CollegeLCF
  • Start dateSeptember 2018
  • Course length15 months

MA Costume Design for Performance

Places available 2018/19

This course has places available for UK and EU applicants only. Applications have now closed for international students.

You can apply for this course via the ‘How to apply’ section on this page.

The costume design course aims to develop confident and experimental practitioners who will push the boundaries of the subject of costume beyond its established traditional role.

About this course

Taught largely on a one to one basis, by international practitioners, experienced lecturers and senior researchers, this MA will nurture and challenge your creative ideas about costume and performance.

You will design, realise and experiment with costume based performance ideas for both live performance and film that enable you to define your individual position in relation to contemporary culture and practice, while responding visually to the relevant performance context.

MA17 Costume Design for Performance Show 

Behind the scenes teaser film at MA Costume Design for Performance at MA17.

A video made by MA Fashion Media Production student Marie-Therese Hildenbrandt about the UAL Markings Festival, which celebrated the relationship between performance and illustration.

MA Costume for Performance students participate in UAL's Markings Festival, celebrating performance and illustration.

Girl in costume, with blue make-up.
Nianhan Cao

Nianhan Cao - view Showtime profile

Costume by Stamatia Megla

Stamatia Megla, 2013 - view Showtime profile


  • LCF Library

    Take a tour of LCF's world renowned fashion library, ideal for research and study.

  • Media facilities at Lime Grove

    Take a tour of Lime Grove's media facilities from photographic studios to darkrooms.

  • LCF's social spaces

    Explore our social spaces, for collaborative study and breaks, across our six sites in London.

Course detail

Beyond the understanding of performance and the role of character creation through costume, the study of Costume Design at MA level allows you to locate your practice within the wider realms of contemporary culture and art, as well as within the relevant dramatic, social and political contexts.

The course offers many opportunities for collaborations within the college or the wider context of the University of the Arts as well as with practitioners from the large performance and art sector in London and the UK.

The relationship between drawing, practical realisation and performance is central to the way design is approached: ideas are developed on paper, 3D modelling, through movement, as well as through pattern cutting, textile and material manipulation and practical testing. Practical experimentation is achieved through access to the extensive technical facilities available within the college and the expanding knowledge of the uses of analogue and digital methods.

The costume studios are well equipped to enable students to develop their ideas into practical realisation, and expert technical support is provided for students on a weekly basis.

Course structure

15 months, level 7, 180 credits

Term one:

Costume for Live Performance (40 credits)

Research Methods (20 credits)

Term two:

Costume for Film (40 units)

Collaborative Unit (20 credits) - find out more

Terms three and four

Masters Project (60 credits)

Travelling across London

The renowned London College of Fashion library is at our John Prince’s Street site, and you will need to travel to this site, and possibly others, during your course to use the library, which is open seven days a week in term time, and for tuition and special events.

Course structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.

Course units

The Costume for Live Performance unit explores costume as central to a dramatic narrative developed live by the performer within time and space. Considering theatrical contexts in its broadest sense as performer and audience relationship, it explores contemporary concepts for the creation of narratives and performances that focus on the body and costume as conveyor of meaning.

Practice and theory in the development of concepts and technical realisation are interdependent for the design process and performance creation. Work will develop individually in response to your particular focus, whilst workshop sessions will introduce you to the full range of supporting facilities available.

While generating conceptual costume-based approaches to performance, you will situate your practice within broader performance contexts and in relation to key practitioners, thus connecting your design work to current cultural debates in contemporary performance practice.

You will experiment and explore your design ideas and will be expected to develop solutions through experimentation, demonstrating initiative in researching the professional context while building a network of contacts. You will also develop your technical skills in the realisation of your designs for the performer’s body, considering movement, materials, scale, sound and lighting in your design concept.

You will develop creative, presentation, communication and management skills through shared peer presentations, practical workshops, master classes, and individual tutorials, as well as through the practical performance workshop where your realised design will be explored in its potential for communicating a meaningful narrative.

The purpose of the Research Methods unit is to introduce you to the range of research methods, approaches and tools that are available to you in order to conduct your post graduate project.

The unit will cover philosophy and ethics in research, primary and secondary research methods, including quantitative, qualitative and visual research methods, and how to analyse, evaluate and disseminate research findings.

The unit will consider research in a range of contexts relevant to the cultural and creative industries and enable you to understand the relationship between theory and practice.

The Costume for Film unit focuses on costume for performance viewed through the camera lens, contextualising the practice of costume design for film and all other visual recording media from a broad cultural and artistic perspective. You are expected to situate your practice within theory and in relation to key practitioners.

The presentation of character on the screen is explored in depth through conceptual development, practical design realisation and the ability to utilise the techniques unique to film such as framing and editing, thus developing a practical understanding of professional constraints and opportunities. You will gain such understanding through research and investigation into film makers, production designers and post production technology, as well as through practical workshops for story board, film editing and specialist textile manipulation.

The unit will culminate in a practical film shoot where the realised designs are explored by the performer and recorded as planned from previously developed storyboards.

The Collaborative Unit is designed to enable you to innovate, engage in developmental processes and participate in collaborative working practices. You will be encouraged to develop the professional negotiating and networking skills that you will need in order to be successful in the cultural and creative industries.

The nature of this collaboration may be within your own course, with students on other courses or with industry. The project that you undertake will depend upon your discipline and the specific requirements of your course. Further details will be available in your unit handbook.

The Masters Project is an important piece of work which will provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in relation to your discipline and chosen project.

Throughout the Masters Project, you are guided and supported by tutorials and peer and staff evaluation at interim stages. You will be allocated a supervisor for your project and will complete a learning contract outlining how you intend to develop and deliver your project. The Masters Project may take a variety of forms by negotiation and is assessed by presentation in an agreed format.

Showing your work

All students are advised to set up a profile on portfolio.arts.ac.uk, UAL’s new portfolio platform, which can be done at any point during your time at LCF and will last for up to 12 months after graduation. This platform is often used to source student work for promotional use on the website, social media and for print and can be a great way of getting your work seen. You may also be asked to have a portfolio profile for the selection process when it comes to degree shows.

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and seek to recruit students from diverse socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds. We are committed to supporting all our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

Home / EU and international applicants

This section includes information on how to apply, course entry requirements and selection criteria.

2018/19 entry

Both Home/EU and international students can apply for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Alternatively, international applicants can apply through an overseas representative in your country.

Application form

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will need to contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

Extra information required for applications to this course

When you are submitting your application form, you will also need to provide the following pieces of documentation in support of your application:

Curriculum vitae

You will be required to submit a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) in support of your application. This should include your full education and employment history.

Personal statement

The personal statement is your opportunity to tell us about yourself and your suitability for the course that you intend to study.

Some key points to consider:

  • Make sure that personal statement is your own work and is about you.
  • Explain why you want to study the course you are applying to.
  • Try to link your skills and experience required to the course.
  • Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the course and link these with your personality.
  • Make sure it is organised and literate (grammar, spelling, punctuation check).


You should submit a 1,000 to 1,500 word written essay. Please include bibliography and referencing. The essay title that you should respond to is:

'Analyse the contribution that costume makes to the development of character and narrative in a particular production (theatre, film or TV)'.

Study proposal

Your study proposal should be no more than 400 words (excluding research sources and bibliography). It should:

  • describe the performance context of the proposal, demonstrating your knowledge of the historical and contemporary context of your area of study;
  • suggest the area of study in your project proposal, e.g. a particular text(s)/ subject area(s) you might be interested in exploring/devising around;
  • consider that the study proposal does change in consultation with tutors; however we need to ensure that you are thinking on the right level for MA study.


You will be required to submit a digital portfolio with a maximum of 30 images that you consider would help support your application. Submit your portfolio via the university’s digital portfolio tool, PebblePad. More details will be sent to you after you have submitted your application. Please include digital versions of drawings, photographs of realised designs, speculative design, sketch work, process, photographs, etc. Label and present any visual work with care, including dates and captions.


Entry requirements

Entry to this course is highly competitive: applicants are expected to achieve, or already have, the course entry requirements detailed below.

  • An Honours degree at 2.1 or above in a related discipline. Applicants with a degree in another subject may be considered, depending on the strength of the application;


  • Equivalent qualifications;


  • Relevant and quantitative industrial experience for a minimum of three years.

Selection for interview will be made on the basis of your application, including the personal statement, the reference, the supporting written statement, and examples of relevant work.

If you are selected for interview you will be asked to bring a portfolio of previous work,

Student selection criteria

The course seeks to recruit students from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and welcomes applications from mature students.

What we look for

The course seeks to recruit students who can demonstrate:

  • the potential to develop their practical and critical abilities through academic study;
  • critical knowledge of a subject area;
  • a capacity for intellectual enquiry and reflective thought;
  • an openness to new ideas and a willingness to participate actively in their own intellectual development;
  • initiative and a developed and mature attitude to independent study.

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. The level required by the University for this course is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each skill

For more information, read the University's English Language requirements page.

International applicants

The International Recruitment Office at the London College of Fashion will help to guide you through the application process and answer any specific questions that you may have regarding our courses. This may include portfolio advice, the application process and fee advice. We offer a ‘drop-in’ facility for applicants who may be in London and wish to obtain further course and admissions information. Please contact us for further information on this facility. We can also arrange a tour of our facilities if we are given prior notice.

Our contact details are: London College of Fashion, International Office, 20 John Prince's Street, London W1G 0BJ.            

If you have a question, you can contact our International Recruitment Office by calling +44 (0)20 7514 7656 / 7678 / 7629 or completing our Online Enquiry Form.  

International applicants should contact the Admission Office by emailing lcf.international@arts.ac.uk about portfolio requirements (if applicable), interview times and dates.

Fees and funding

Home / EU fee


This applies for the 2018/19 academic year.

UAL Home/EU alumni receive a £1,000 discount.

Course fees may be paid in instalments.


Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the 'ELQ' fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. For enquiries relating to ELQ fees, please complete the course enquiry form.

International fee


This applies for the 2018/19 academic year.

UAL International alumni receive a £1,000 discount.

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarships search

Career paths

MA Costume Design for Performance graduates practice as designers in both the text-based mainstream but also the devised/arthouse live performance and film sector. They often take the collaborative performance work initiated during the course further and as a result, their work has been seen in major national and international festivals, including Prague Quadrennial and Edinburgh Festival, Critical Costume Helsinki (Finland), Pamplona Festival (Spain) and has been exhibited at the National Gallery London, the V&A Museum, National Centre of Performance Art in Beijing, Museum of Modern Art Shanghai and in many other venues in the UK and abroad.

Graduates find employment as assistant designers and costume supervisors in the theatre and film industry in leading institutions such as the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and on films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Suffragette. Others have built careers as experts in specific technical areas of costume, such as, pattern cutting, surface textiles, print and dye or fabricated, sculptural costumes. Some graduates are currently working for major fashion labels such as Chanel, Dior, McQueen and Lawrence Xu producing often unusual one-off costumes and objects for the designer’s catwalk shows.

Graduates have found work with artists, whose work borders on performance, such as Lucy Orta and Tracy Emin.