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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 traditional circus to create exciting new work.

  • Develop an innovative and imaginative approach to circus and physical theatre.
  • Expand your knowledge of potential styles and approaches of contemporary circus and physical theatre.
  • Ensures the rigours of good technique.

This unique course is run in partnership with Circomedia, the leading centre for circus with physical theatre in Europe. You’ll become an artist who is the creator as well as the performer.

Your training will expose you to a wide range of disciplines and styles and incorporates circus, dance, theatre, cabaret and outdoor theatre. With 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, staging and promoting your own work.

What you'll learn


This course aims to develop you as a well rounded circus-theatre artist. It is an intensive training course which has an emphasis on breadth rather than in-depth specialisation. In the first term strong emphasis is on skills training in the specialist areas. You’ll also be introduced to physical theatre and devising.

Emphasis moves increasingly towards creative application culminating in you individually producing a project shown to an invited audience. A final ensemble production, shown to the public, concludes year one. In year two you present devised work week-by-week and over the year gain more experience in street theatre.

You’ll perform at live events, which often include festivals. During the second year you broaden your range of styles and techniques which will help you reinterpret work through different mediums for various audiences, this includes learning how to stage work to showcase your work in the best way possible, and you begin developing and building up a diverse portfolio of work. You’ll also create a specific act or piece of work over an extended period.

We’ll help you build your knowledge of the performing arts sector so you have a clear understanding of how to promote yourself and your work.

Course structure

Specialist choices (acrobatics, aerial and manipulation)
In the first six weeks of the course you’ll do all three of the specialist choices before choosing two pathways to study for the remainder of the year. In the second year of your studies you’ll specialise in one of these.

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.

Body training
An important aspect of the course is ensuring you know how to look after yourself; understanding the practical techniques to look after your body as well as learning about nutrition to keep yourself in peak condition which will allow you to get the most out of a physically demanding course.

Complementary studies including practical, technical and academic theory
Understanding all the technical and practical aspects of performance also helps you when creating work. To help get the most out of the course,ground your knowledge of physical theatre and develop your academic skills in research and referencing you’ll explore the history of circus within the context of the history of circus.

Practice and evaluations
Throughout the course you’ll regularly show work to gain feedback from peers and tutors and help evaluate and feedback on other’s 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 are assessed in various ways to examine your range of abilities and skills. You are set course work, 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. In addition 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. It continues to train your core technique in your chosen skills with a more intense focus on one. 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 series of devising projects both in ensemble and solo work. 


Live events

Our students often get the opportunity to perform in events outside of the course such as in 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 studio. There is 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 and EU students full time

Course fees
2019/20 entry £9,250*
2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020
2021/22 entry Published Jan 2021

*Although we can accept international students who have dual nationality with an EU country, fee status and eligibility for student funding may be different. A student who has not been a resident in the EU for three years prior to the course start date may be deemed an international student for fee status and charged accordingly. 

To be eligible for funding from Student Finance EU or Student Finance UK, a student needs to have been living in the EU or UK for a certain amount of time. Please contact Student Finance to check eligibility.

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We are 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 would recommend including any artists or companies that have inspired you. The audition is a full day workshop and finishes with you giving a three minute performance of your choosing.

How do I apply?

If you’re interested in this course but haven’t applied before the UCAS deadline, please get in touch, as there may still be places available.

Ready to apply? Contact our admissions team at admissions@bathspa.ac.uk 

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

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