Drama as a subject community covers degrees as different as single subject vocational degrees in acting or stage management; multi-disciplinary programmes such as in performing arts; programmes with an historical focus; and, degrees which focus on contemporary performance studies.
There are also programmes which allow you to combine two (sometimes three) different subjects, typically called Joint or Combined degrees. These combinations may also vary in the extent to which you spend time in each subject, with Major combinations allowing you to concentrate more in one area, less in your Minor subject.
Make sure, then, when looking for a degree that you look carefully at the titles of the programmes on offer and the descriptions of them provided in prospectuses.
All these degrees have to meet a UK-wide standard set out by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA): the Subject Benchmarks for Dance, Drama and Performing Arts. How they do this will vary from programme to programme and from institution. It does mean, however, that there are some expectations which all courses have to meet.
What qualifications do I need to study Drama?
There is no single list of required qualifications to study Drama. It is important, however, that your qualifications and experience enable you to meet the challenges of your degree. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate the ability to work across different modes of study (including practice, reading, reflection and research); to communicate your ideas in different formats and media (writing, presentations, workshops and performances); and in different settings and roles (individually, in group projects).
What's the best Drama degree?
There is no such thing as a single ‘best degree’. There are a number of things that may mean that a degree that allows you to play to your strengths may be entirely unsuitable for someone else with whom you’re studying on your current course. The best course is the one that is best for you.
In deciding which course to choose from, you might ask yourself:
- What are my strengths and weaknesses? Will this course help me develop?
- What topic areas am I interested in? Are these reflected in the modules/course outline?
- What interests me about this particular programme?
- What is the career I want to pursue? Have graduates from this course followed this route?
What about league tables?
Don’t believe any league tables you see in newspapers and online! They are often compiled using data that is already out-of-date by the time they are compiled and which include elements that may have little impact on your experience as a student.
For example, in assigning a value to research undertaken within a department, league tables may be drawing from a research census that includes staff who are retired, have moved institution or who have little direct engagement with undergraduate teaching.
Equally, where an institution has identified an issue from the National Student Survey, you can be sure that much attention will be being paid to putting it right. That won’t be reflected in any league table that you’ll see.
The government will be asking each institution to publish results under a UK-wide set of headings which will help you compare each course and institution. Look for these, not league tables.