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The Best Universities and Schools to Study Drama – The UK has a rich theatrical heritage. People come from all over the world to study drama in the UK because of the historic institutions, the excellent teachers and the established industry.
If you are thinking about studying drama then you may want to know about the universities and schools that offer the best and most competitive drama programmes.
For performing arts subjects like drama or music, there are usually two main higher education paths to take: the university route or the conservatoire/drama school route.
You can receive a great education in drama at universities like the University of Manchester or the University of Essex. Or you can take the specialist route and apply to world-famous drama schools like The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) or The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
In this feature, we’ll separate the two, listing 5 of the top universities and 5 of the top conservatoires where you can study drama in the UK.
So, let’s take a look at 5 of the best Universities to study Drama.
University of Essex
The University of Essex offers a variety of undergraduate drama courses. You can immerse yourself in dramatic literature from Ancient Greek tragedy and Shakespeare, to modern plays from around the world. They are in the Top 20 universities for overall student satisfaction for Drama in the 2021 National Student Survey because they offer excellent classroom teaching, practical sessions and a professional experience.
University of Manchester
The drama course at the University of Manchester allows students to study theatre, performance, and screen media under experienced teachers and practitioners. As well as the course, students can benefit from the theatrical tradition and dramatic culture all around the bustling city of Manchester. The university consistently ranks towards the top of the Drama Course league tables and enables students to receive a wide and diverse theatre education.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Royal Holloway is a constituent college of the University of London. They offer a BA (Hons) course in Drama and Theatre Studies. It is a three-year course, with the first year teaching the basics, the second year allowing for students to choose their modules and the third year culminating in a group project.
Through seminars and workshops you can explore the ideas and the culture behind theatre, examine dramatic texts and learn how to perform on stage. Royal Holloway is one of the largest and most influential Drama departments in the world and it is a great place for any young performers to study.
University of Bristol
The University of Bristol’s Department of Theatre is one of the best places to study drama in the UK. They offer a single honours theatre course as well as a number of joint honours courses including BA Theatre and English, BA Theatre and Film, or BA Theatre and French.
All of these courses are a great way for passionate actors and students to learn, experiment and discover. Bristol, home to the world-renowned Bristol Old Vic Theatre, is also a brilliant city for drama enthusiasts.
University of Glasgow
One of the best ways to study drama is by taking the University of Glasgow’s four-year Theatre Studies MA. The course aims to give students a critical, historical and practical education in theatre.
From classical to modern, modernism to postdramatic, the course is intense and detail-focussed. Any graduate from the University of Glasgow’s Theatre course will have a comprehensive dramatic knowledge and great practical experience.
Now, let’s have a look at the drama schools:
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
In the heart of the City of London sits the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Interdisciplinary collaboration is central to the way Guildhall approaches education. The school encourages music, drama, and production students to learn from each other.
To study acting at Guildhall applicants must pass through a three-stage process: the first round audition, the second round audition and the final recall audition. It is a rigorous application process and the substance of the course is also challenging. It is all designed to provide the best possible education for those eager to study drama.
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is also based in the heart of London. Founded in 1904, RADA has always been a prestigious place to study drama, offering a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
Thousands of people apply for the three-year BA in Acting course but RADA only accepts 28 each year. It is competitive because it ranks as one of the best drama schools in the world to study. They have an illustrious alumni list and continue to provide a great environment to study drama.
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)
The London based academy, is the oldest specialist drama school in the UK. They are a world-leading conservatoire that provide courses in drama, literature, musical theatre and poetry.
As with other reputable drama schools, getting into LAMDA is not easy. But if you are accepted you can expect a unique and transformative education. At LAMDA you will receive a grounding in both traditional and more modern drama techniques and theories.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
The Old Vic is one of the most celebrated theatres in the whole of the UK. It is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world and has been home to many famous performances.
It’s not easy to be accepted to study at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. They receive thousands of applications every year for their three-year BA acting course and, like RADA, accept only 28 people. It is competitive but an education at the Old Vic will stand you in good stead if you want to have a long career in acting.
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
The premiere drama school in Scotland is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It is a fantastic place to receive an education in everything to do with drama, theatre, and theatre production. Notable RCS alumni include James McAvoy, David Tennant and Alan Cumming.
The undergraduate programmes include courses in Acting, Musical Theatre, and Contemporary Performance. Like RADA and the Old Vic, the RCS has a great history of providing first-class drama education to budding young actors from all over the world.
All of these courses offer a wide and diverse drama education. The drama schools like RADA or LAMDA offer an intense and immersive theatre experience. Whereas the top university courses offer a broader, more accessible dramatic education.
If you are interested in studying drama at a university or at a conservatoire the institutions listed above are a great place to start looking. The courses will evolve and change as new teachers or instructors shape them to their liking. So it’s a good idea to look at a detailed prospectus before making a decision.
Good luck with your auditions!
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