Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

BA Performance Costume

UCAS code: W451

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing BA Performance Costume

This unique programme teaches costume design and costume making.

Our curriculum includes:

  • costume design for stage and screen
  • costume making
  • historical pattern cutting
  • puppetry
  • character and text analysis
  • life drawing
  • textiles
  • millinery
  • set design
  • model making
  • computer skills

Why Edinburgh?

You will be encouraged to be an innovative, individual and adaptable designer and maker. Our programme is highly respected by the industry, demonstrated by our impressive graduate employment rates and the international profile of alumni work.

We have many links with the film and stage industry. These provide invaluable work experience opportunities while you study, giving you the best chance of employment on graduation.

What you will learn

Through concept, colour, cut and texture, performance costume designers' ideas can respond to:

  • the written and spoken word
  • music
  • movement
  • location
  • historic period

You will learn to become skilled at producing accurate recreations of costumes as well as expressing imaginative flair.

Performance costume crosses a range of art forms, including:

  • theatre
  • dance
  • opera
  • television
  • film
  • performance art
  • music video
  • installation

We encourage innovative and individual creative responses while balancing a strong craft and technical expertise.

You will study Design and Screen Cultures courses alongside your studio work. These provide a contextual and theoretical understanding of contemporary design.

Year 1

You will be introduced to the theoretical and practical aspects of performance costume through a series of design projects.

You will be introduced to:

  • designing costumes for text and character
  • sewing, textiles and construction skills
  • drawing for character skills, life drawing and illustration

In the Design and Screen Cultures course, you will address the key histories and theories of design.

Optional courses

You will be able to take up to 40 credits of optional courses.

These can be within ECA or across the wider University. Your choices will be subject to availability and discussion with relevant course organisers.

You will be able to select a range of courses that reflect your interests and enhance your main study.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will be set a range of design projects covering a variety of performance costume design challenges.

You will:

  • develop a greater understanding of the design process through practical tutorials in pattern cutting and sewing
  • be introduced to set design and model making and a variety of skills workshops
  • make one costume from your design work
  • learn to produce a design book, as a means of editing and showcasing your design work
  • take courses that include life drawing, textiles and computer skills

Optional courses

Alongside Design and Screen Cultures courses, you will be able to choose a 20 credit optional course. This can be either within ECA or across the wider University, subject to availability.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will design for two projects, making design books for both (life drawing, textiles and computer skills are integrated into the projects).

You will:

  • develop your pattern cutting skills through the study of historical pattern cutting
  • make two costumes from your design work, one of which will be historically inspired
  • take a further Design and Screen Cultures course

You will also have the opportunity to take an internship and/or study abroad, which will help broaden your understanding of the discipline.

Year 4

In Year 4, you will:

  • select your own concepts and projects to design for in your final year of study
  • develop confidence in research methods and the expression of ideas through your ability to contextualise your theoretical and practical work
  • complete a written dissertation

Design and costume work

You will also:

  • consolidate your practice and research through the production of a final body of design and costume work
  • design for two projects of your choice in consultation with your tutors
  • produce a design book for each project and make two costumes from this personal design work

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

Design students benefit from studio-based learning at our Lauriston Place campus, along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college.

Some Design and Screen Cultures teaching takes place across the University Central Area, depending on room availability.

Optional courses

Optional courses are taught within ECA or the wider University campus.

You will have access to the University's extensive libraries, computing and technical facilities. These include:

  • laser cutters
  • 3D printers
  • digital textile printers

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in Edinburgh College of Art's estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA


Throughout your programme you will have many opportunities for work experience with stage and screen companies in Scotland or further afield.

Study abroad

You will have the opportunity to carry out an international exchange programme with a fashion course in Shanghai, China, subject to selection and availability.

How will I learn?

Most design teaching and learning involves experiential courses situated in a studio environment.

Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • critiques

You will develop research and critical thinking, as well as the following contexts that shape creative design practice:

  • visual
  • intellectual
  • social
  • professional

These elements are taught through Design and Screen Cultures courses and involve participation in:

  • exhibitions
  • competitions
  • collaborations
  • live industry projects

How will I be assessed?

We use continuous formative assessment throughout your study. This helps give meaningful feedback and encourages experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Formative assessment for compulsory courses can include:

  • portfolio
  • presentations
  • essays against course learning outcomes

There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any course you study.

Summative assessment at the end of all courses is informed by your:

  • academic progress
  • creative progress
  • performance throughout

Your course grades are calculated through this summative assessment plus a moderation process.

Many of our graduates go on to work in the screen and stage industry in roles such as:

  • costume designers
  • costume makers
  • costume assistants
  • costume supervisors
  • costume illustrators
  • stylists

The professional skills and abilities developed on the programme prepare our graduates for a rewarding career path in the creative industries.

Many of our alumni are now successful practitioners. Recent credits include:

  • Dune
  • The Father
  • JoJo Rabbit
  • Wheel of Time
  • Shadow and Bones
  • Downton Abbey (both film and TV series)
  • The Crown
  • Game of Thrones
  • Outlander
  • Poldark
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Scottish Opera
  • Northern Ballet
  • V&A Museum in London

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements


Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

Performance Costume portfolio brief

Portfolio guidance

(Revised 21 September 2023 to add link to portfolio brief.)

Important dates

  • 1 December 2023: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 31 January 2024: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 6 February 2024 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: mini-portfolio submission deadline.

(Revised 30 August 2023 to add portfolio guidance and important dates.)

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Performance Costume

Additional costs

In Performance Costume, there is a provision for pattern cutting paper.

You will need your own calico for toiles. You can buy this from us, as well as:

  • pattern cutting textbooks
  • drafting materials
  • basic sewing materials (approximately £150)

For the costume makes, you will need to source and buy fabrics. You can get these from the stock held by us or from external specialist suppliers. The cost of each costume varies hugely depending on the individual, on average costing between £100 to £400.

You will also need to pay the costs of:

  • art and printing materials for your design work (approximately £120)
  • design books (approximately £55)


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding