The first step on the road to becoming a professional actor.

  • Experience drama school level training with an average of 21 hours of teaching time a week.
  • Learn approaches to professional acting taught by working industry professionals.
  • Achieve an Extended Level 3 Diploma, equivalent to 3 A levels.
  • Qualify for an automatic recall audition for Bristol School of Acting degrees.

BSA 16-18 is a drama school at diploma level with a professional ethos and rigorous approach.

The course prepares you to think as a professional actor and equips you with the skills to progress to drama school and into the industry. You are taught by expert staff and you benefit from the wide professional networks that those staff bring. The core of the course is the acting class which runs over the two years and takes you through the approaches of Stanislavski, Uta Hagen and Meisner. Staff support you to develop a personal acting process, using techniques from all the approaches. Voice and movement classes support the development of your acting instrument and specialised units, such as Acting for TV and Comedy, develop your skills. The course works towards productions in year 2. These are professionally staged with high production values and you collaborate with professional working directors, designers and production staff. We have a partnership with Tobacco Factory Theatres where many of our productions are staged.

You’ll share a building with the BA Acting students and so will be immersed in the drama school environment and you’ll be fast tracked to a recall stage audition for any of our BA acting courses.

We have an enviable record of helping our students secure places at top drama schools and we currently have ex BSA students at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Rose Bruford College, Manchester School of Theatre, Arts Ed, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Drama Studio London, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and our own BSA degree courses.



Throughout the first year you’ll have Acting classes in which you explore the core acting system of Stanislavski. During the class you work on scenes from contemporary plays, building your skills in script analysis, understanding the building blocks of character and exploring truthful character in action. You also make an in-depth study of the acting exercises developed by Uta Hagen. Uta Hagen was one of the great acting teachers of the 20th Century and her seminal book Respect for Acting is a handbook for the course.

Alongside acting you take voice and movement classes each week to develop your skills. In voice you explore the techniques that underpin strong vocal support, use of breath, articulation and resonance. You learn how to employ a wide range of vocal dynamics to voice character and to be able to project in a variety of theatre spaces. Movement class focuses on training the body as an actor’s instrument and the relationship between space and dynamics to create characters with strong physical lives.

You will also take units in:

  • Rehearsal Skills in which you work on scenes for performance, learning how to rehearse professionally, apply a variety of rehearsal techniques and develop your own approach to preparation.
  • Acting for Camera in which you work on contemporary TV and film scenes. The objectives of the unit are to learn the basic techniques of ‘revealing’ rather than ‘playing’, develop skills in preparing for a scene and learning the technical skills required of the process, such as marks, playing for a variety of shots and continuity.
  • Audition Preparation that will help you select audition pieces and understand the techniques of auditioning, in preparation for drama school and university auditions you do in your second year.

The year culminates with a public production of a piece of ensemble theatre for young people and provides you with the opportunity to put all the skills you have learned in year one into practice.


Acting class continues with a detailed exploration of Meisner technique to develop spontaneity and truthful reactions.

You’ll take units in:

  • Comedy. You are introduced to the basic techniques of comedy drama and apply them to two contrasting styles of comedy scene. Texts are chosen from genres including comedy of manners and French farce to contemporary dark comedy, social comedy and satire.
  • Physical Theatre. You explore the work of practitioners such as Lecoq, Frantic Assembly and Pina Bausch and create an ensemble piece of physical theatre.
  • Shakespeare and Jacobean theatre. This unit introduces you to the way an actor unlocks and communicates complex text.

Throughout year 2 you have individual tutorials to work on your audition pieces for drama school and university acting courses. The highlight of the second year are the productions staged in February and July.


Submit your application on our website by visiting You will then be invited to an audition. We will send you a selection of audition pieces to choose from (or you can choose your own). Depending on the result, you may be asked to attend a recall audition.

Though experience of dance, drama or expressive arts are advantageous in giving you a sense of what’s involved, we are more interested in raw talent and welcome your application even if you have had little or no experience.


The course is a practical one. There is some written assignment work but much of the evidence is filmed and evaluation is conducted through filmed interview. We describe the course as consisting of 80% practical and 20% written work. There are no examinations. You are assessed continually through an assignment for each unit. On successful completion of the course, you will be awarded an overall Distinction*, Distinction, Merit or Pass grade.


You will need to be on track to get a grade 4-9 in GCSE Maths and English (Language OR Literature).


The programme is fully funded for students ages 16-18 at the start of their course. Students will be eligible to apply for a discretionary bursary. Auditions are also free of charge but students are asked to contribute to the cost of theatre trips by way of a one-off £200 charge which pays for around 10 trips over the 2 years.

TERM DATES 2023/2024

Term 1: 11th Sep 2023 – 20th Oct 2023 

Term 2: 30th Oct 2023 – 15th Dec 2023 

Term 3: 3rd Jan 2024 – 9th Feb 2024 

Term 4: 19th Feb 2024 – 28th March 2024

Term 5: 15th April 2024 – 24th May 2024 

Term 6: 3rd June 2024 – 28th June 2024 

TERM DATES 2024/2025

Term 1: 16th September 2024 – 25th October 2024 

Term 2: 4th November 2024 – 20th December 2024

Term 3: 6th January 2025 – 14th February 2025

Term 4: 24th February 2025 – 4th April 2025

Term 5: 21st April 2025 – 23th May 2025

Term 6: 2nd June 2025 – 4th July 2024 

* Year 2 Acting Diploma’s spring holiday may differ dependant on production rehearsals


What kind of qualification will I achieve?
Our Extended Diploma qualification is a RSL Level 3 Course in Creative and Performing Arts and is a full-time 2 year course. RSL are one of the leading awarding bodies offering specialist qualifications in the creative arts.
Who quality assures the qualification?
BSA is responsible for over 300 learners at diploma and degree level and has its own robust quality assurance procedures. course is run in partnership with Cabot Learning Federation (CLF), one of the largest academy chains in the South West. Students are on roll as CLF students and CLF monitor our standards.
Can a Level 3 Diploma get me into university?
Absolutely. Extended Diplomas are awarded the same UCAS points as A-Levels, and are welcomed by universities. Different courses have different requirements, however, so we would always recommend students do their own research to check the entry requirements of courses they may want to follow. It is important to note that the qualification is considered a passport to a wide range of performing arts, media and humanities subjects at many universities and choosing this course does not close down your university options.
Is the course approved by the Department for Education?
Yes. The qualification number for the RSL suite of courses is: 601/8617/3 and it can be found in the DfE Performance Tables.
Does the course equip me to get into drama school?
Yes. Though entry to drama school is exceptionally competitive, the course has been designed to give you the best possible chance of successfully applying and being prepared for a drama school training.
Does the course attract UCAS points?
Yes. The qualification is awarded as one of 4 single grades – Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*. If you achieve a Distinction* the qualification has 168 UCAS tariff points or 3 A-Levels at A* grade. A Merit has 96 UCAS tariff points or 3 A-Levels at C grade.
What if I change my mind and don’t wan’t to progress with acting?
In some cases we may be able to negotiate a move down to a smaller qualification taken over 1 year. However, you are entitled to 3 years post 16 funding so if you were to leave the course at the end of year 1 you could still sign up to a full 2-year programme at another institution.