Circus degree – FdA – Bath Spa University

Contemporary Circus with Physical Theatre


Foundation degree

Key facts

FdA in Contemporary Circus with Physical Theatre
Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Taught by
Course length
Two years full-time
UCAS codes
Institution Code: B20
Course Code: W900

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our foundation programmes. See ‘Interested in applying’ for more information.

Merge physical theatre, movement and circus to create exciting new work.

  • Develop an innovative and imaginative approach to circus and physical theatre.
  • Expand your knowledge of performance styles and approaches to integration.
  • Establish a strong technical and theoretical foundation for performance.

This unique course is run in partnership with Circomedia, a leading centre that has been at the forefront of contemporary circus and physical theatre education for over 30 years. One of Circomedia’s core educational beliefs is that minds and personalities need developing just as much as physical skills. That's why they nurture their students to take an imaginative and forward-thinking approach to training and performance.

Your training will expose you to a wide range of disciplines and styles. Alongside a grounding in physical technique and skill, the course also explores the various cultural, historical and social contexts in which these disciplines sit.

You'll learn the technical, practical and logistical elements of working professionally as a performer. This includes managing, and promoting your own work.

What you'll learn


This course aims to develop you as a well rounded circus-theatre artist who can be both creator and performer. It's an intensive and highly practical course with an emphasis on breadth rather than narrow skill acquisition. The first term begins with an introduction to the practical circus disciplines of aerial, acrobalance and object manipulation. Later in the year, students specialise further within these areas, alongside continuing classes in physical theatre, movement, fitness and conditioning, critical thinking and contextual studies.

Emphasis moves increasingly towards creative application as you plan spring and summer projects shown to an invited audience and a final ensemble production at the end of the year. Other performance opportunities include a group Christmas show and street theatre performances at various events around the UK.

During the second year you broaden your understanding of performance styles and techniques such as burlesque, clowning, stand-up comedy and live art. Essential employability skills are developed as you learn how to produce a business plan and create a showreel and portfolio. You'll receive training in how to teach circus to others and plan and deliver an actual lesson. The year culminates with the Ensembles project; a group devised work of significant length performed to a public audience.

Students who successfully complete the Foundation Degree can apply for a third top-up year to achieve a full BA (Hons) Contemporary Circus with Physical Theatre.

Course structure

Discipline choices (acrobalance, aerial and manipulation)
In the first six weeks of the course you'll train in disciplines before choosing your own for the remainder of the year. You'll receive up to four discipline classes per week.

Physical theatre, movement, voice and creative studies
This core component allows you to explore how to reinterpret work through different mediums for a range of audiences.

Fitness and conditioning
An important aspect of the course is ensuring you know how to look after yourself. You’ll learn practical techniques to look after your body, and learn about nutrition to keep yourself in peak condition.

Complementary studies including practical, technical and academic theory
Understanding all the technical and practical aspects of performance helps you when creating work. You’ll explore the history of circus, and develop your academic skills through written research projects.

Practice and evaluations
Throughout the course you'll regularly show work to gain feedback from peers and tutors and help evaluate and feedback on others’ work. This is vital for creators and performers in developing work and allows you to begin doing so in a safe and comfortable environment.

How will I be assessed?

You're assessed in various ways to examine your range of abilities and skills. You're set coursework and assessed through public performances, creative project development, artistic and theoretical presentations, written feedback and reflection, personal training logs, practical tests, research and essay work.

How will I be taught?

Teaching is delivered through practical classes, formal lectures, small group tutorials, one-to-one tutorials, supervised practice sessions, and visits from external specialists. You’ll also devise and perform presentations each week for tutor and peer feedback.

In your first year you'll be introduced to Personal Development Planning in the form of journals and reflection. The second year of your study develops the processes and techniques introduced in your first year. You create personalised action plans of the technical and conditioning learning and progress you want to make, and measure yourself against this plan. To develop your creative performance-making skills, you'll have a series of devising projects, both ensemble and solo.


Live events

Bristol is one of the major hubs for circus in the UK, partly due to Circomedia and its significant contribution to the industry. Students benefit from these close ties as they receive lectures and workshops from visiting practitioners and experts. Students often get the opportunity to perform at events outside of the course such as local and national festivals and with existing circus-theatre companies.

Alumni (companies and performers)

We're proud to have many fantastic alumni; visit the Circomedia website to find out more about them.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

The course is hosted at Circomedia’s Kingswood site which boasts six training spaces including three aerial spaces and mirrored dance studio. There's also a student room with a kitchen, quiet study room, classroom and IT suite. This site also holds a library with a comprehensive selection of books and media on contemporary circus with physical theatre.

Students get to perform their final shows in Circomedia’s impressive church venue in the centre of Bristol. Converted and saved from dilapidation in 2005 by The Churches Conservation Trust, this building houses the UK’s largest indoor trapeze rig and aerial facilities unparalleled in the South West.

Book an Open Day


UK students full time

Course fees
2022/23 entry £9,250
2023/24 entry Published Jan 2023
2024/25 entry Published Jan 2024

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We're looking for individuals that want to go further than just developing skills. The course is physically demanding so it is important to demonstrate that you can keep up with the demands of the course.

However, you’ll also need to be enthusiastic about pushing yourself further creatively and be open to explore how contemporary circus, physical theatre and yourself can develop. Check the Circomedia website for entry requirements.

Interview and portfolio guidance

We select students based on their application to UCAS and an audition. Your application should demonstrate your passion for developing as a performer and creative artist, and we recommend describing any artists or companies that have inspired you in your personal statement.

The audition is two full days of workshops and includes a three minute performance of your choosing.

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the "apply now" button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply pages.

Cirocomedia photo © Ben Tansey

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