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

  • Experience a drama school ethos
    and approach 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.
  • Prepare for drama school or further training with high levels of individual coaching.

Our aim has been to create a drama school for 16-18 year olds 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 and you collaborate with working directors, designers and production staff.



Throughout the first year you’ll take acting class 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. You study Laban and the system of analysing and developing technical movement language and the relationship between space and dynamics. This system helps the actor 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. The emphasis is on building a tool-box of approaches that you can use selectively to find what works for you as an individual young actor.

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 May.


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 grade of Distinction*, Distinction, Merit or Pass.


You will need to be on track to get at least five GCSE grades 4-9 including Maths and English or BTEC Level 2 Diplomas (at Merit or Distinction). In exceptional cases we can take students who don’t have GCSE English or Maths at grade 4 or above and we can provide tuition in those qualifications alongside the course.

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 will be expected to contribute to the cost of theatre trips by way of a £200 one off trips charge, which pays for around 10 trips over the 2 years of the course.
TERM DATES 2022/23
Monday 5th September 2021 – Friday 21st October 2021
Monday 31st October 2022 – Friday 25th November 2022
Tuesday 3rd January 2023 – Friday 10th February 2023
Monday 20th February 2023 – Friday 31st March 2023
Monday 17th April 2023 – Friday 26th May 2023
Monday 5th June 2023 – Friday 14th July 2023 (Year 1 only)


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. Our course is run in partnership with The Cherwell School, students are on roll as Cherwell students and the school monitor our standards. We are subject to Ofsted inspection as is the case with very other Post 16 course.
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.