Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performing Arts

This BFA degree offers a broad and holistic approach to the performing arts, one that not only concentrates on performance from a participatory perspective (that is to say, on being a performer), but also prepares the student for the wide and exciting range of careers available in the performing arts industry. While performance remains a central aspect of the programme, students are also prepared for the vast array of work that supports and produces performance, such as directing and staging, creating written material for performance, production, management, marketing and funding of the performing arts. The programme is based around live theatrical performance (with elements of recording used for diagnostic and development purposes), but at the same time a graduate is prepared for further study in all cognate specialisms in the performing arts, as well as for direct entry into a professional career. This is because the degree produces a wide spectrum of transferable skills such as effective presentational technique, expertise in using the voice and the body as communicative instruments, interpretational and compositional competency with written texts, management, marketing and fundraising abilities, and organizational skills. These are applicable not only in the context of the many career paths within performing arts, but also in a wide variety of social, cultural and business vocations.

The programme’s structure combines practical workshops and academic classroom modules. Approximately two-thirds of total weekly contact hours consist of modules devoted to practical aspects of performance. Students receive instruction in rising levels of live performance, including acting, voice control, dance and movement, direction and production. The students’ progress involves development and accumulation of material for a portfolio which provides evidence of their achievement of the programme’s required learning outcomes, and functions as a basis for individual assessment. The remaining one-third of weekly contact hours concentrates on class-based academic instruction that supports and contextualises the ascending levels of practical training, and includes such subjects as theatre history, performance theory, drama and politics, creative writing, management and marketing. 

The practical modules are based on a rotating roles model in which all students take turns in specializing in each of six roles in the course of the year: lead performance, support performance, direction, production, writing, and business (management, marketing and finance). Notwithstanding these separations of roles, students are required to demonstrate an understanding of the integration and interdependence of the activities and to provide mutual support, encouragement and help for all activity areas and for the group as a whole. The programme lays great stress on the development of an ensemble ethic; alongside the development of the individual’s creative impulses and abilities, the degree seeks to imbue the student with an awareness of the paramount importance of responsibility to the collective in performing arts practice. 

In the first year of the programme students are introduced to fundamental concepts of acting, including action, relaxation, spontaneity, monologues, projection, presence, substitution, gesture, movement, character analyses, voice and diction. These technical perspectives are developed through study of the Stanislavski system and the Meisner technique. Dance and movement foundational skills include a broad introduction to contemporary dance styles, and the development of kinaesthetic, rhythmic, spatial and body awareness; instructional perspectives include the Feldenkrais method, Laban movement analysis and contact improvisation. Classes on directing and production provide a practical analysis of approaches since the nineteenth century, including realism, naturalism, symbolism, epic, Brechtian and post-Brechtian methodologies. 

In year two, the focus shifts increasingly towards application and development of the skills encountered in the first year, with an accompanying analysis of key forms and practitioners, including devising, improvisation, clowning, mime, characterization and the Chekhov technique; the directing approaches of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook; and ongoing development of dance and movement competencies, including choreography, improvisation, enhancement of bodily coordination and movement vocabulary, improved conditioning to support technical capacity, and further exploration of contemporary dance styles. In the second year students also begin to examine the practice of play writing, initially through adaptations of canonical works, but increasingly by way of producing entirely original works for performances by the class. The movement towards a practical application of performance skills in year two is supported in both semesters by event management modules, which use as their case studies the designing, planning and running of various performing arts events by the class group. 

The final taught year of the programme concentrates on the practice of performing arts by the class. Although consideration is given to historical and contemporary approaches, the overriding focus is now on producing from within the group’s internal resources largely or completely original presentations for public performance. Whereas in the previous two years all members of the class have practised in turns the six rotating roles, in the final year the roles are assigned by the programme teaching team on the basis of individual abilities and proclivities identified in each student over the preceding semesters. Master class presentations are provided by established actors, dancers and directors, giving the class the opportunity to engage directly with those who have had significant experience in various aspects of the performing arts. These presentations are combined with workshop classes which prepare the student for participation in the performing arts industry, with sessions offering guidance by experienced practitioners on matters such as curriculum vitae and headshot preparation, interview and audition preparation and mock auditions. 

Throughout the course of their study participants are involved in a number of didactic and illustrative performance exercises, culminating in the showcase performances at the end of each academic year. The teaching staff provide guidance and advice in the preparation of these performances. At the same time the class is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the performance, and assessment is based both on individual execution of assigned roles and on the performance of the group as a whole. The process of development of responsibility and preparedness for a career in the performing arts culminates in the 1200-hour internship, completed as a fourth year or incrementally in the course of the three years during summer and other breaks. The internship is sourced by the College and is rigorously supervised and assessed, with regular meetings required with the College supervisor to monitor progress and on-site learning, and final assessment achieved by way of a detailed report.

The programme is made up of the following components:

45 credits minimum from the performing arts major, including

CW201 Introduction to creative writing*
PA202 Introduction to performing arts management*
PA203 Acting and voice 1*
PA204 Dance 1*
PA205 Principles of marketing*
PA207 Direction and production 1*
PA208 Acting and voice 1*
PA209 Dance 1*
PA300 Dramatic writing 1
PA302 Event management for the performing arts
PA303 Acting and voice 2
PA304 Dance 2
PA306 Direction and production 2
PA307 Acting and voice 2
PA308 Dance 2
PA309 Event design and experience for the performing arts
PA310 Theatre craft 1
PA400 Dramatic writing 2
PA401 Performance on screen
PA402 Theatre craft 2
PA403 Acting and voice 3
PA404 Dance 3
PA405 Performing arts project 1
PA406 Direction and production 3
PA407 Acting and voice 3
PA408 Dance 3
PA409 Performing arts project 2
PA410 Theatre craft 3
PA411 Theatre craft 4
PA425 Internship (1200 hours / 30 credits – completed as a fourth year or incrementally in the course of the three years during summer and other breaks)

*Denotes general education module

30 credits minimum of general education classes
• The 200-level creative writing and liberal arts classes are all rated as general education courses and may be counted towards the general education requirement.

45 credits of free electives
• The remaining classes to achieve the required total of 120 credits may be freely chosen by the student, with the proviso that prerequisite stipulations are followed.
• The student may select as free electives more than the minimum 45 credits of performing arts major classes.
• The student may select as free electives more than the minimum of 30 credits of general education classes.
• If a student wishes to take a minor, a minimum of 15 credits must be taken in the minor, with at least 9 credits in the upper divisions (300+); these minor credits are taken from the free elective requirement.


Sample course schedule

Year 1

  • Introduction to the performing arts 
  • History of drama
  • Introduction to performing arts management  
  • Acting and voice 1 (9 hours per week)
  • Dance 1 (3 hours per week)
  • Principles of marketing 
  • Drama and politics
  • Direction and production 1 (3 hours per week)
  • Acting and voice 1 (6 hours per week) 
  • Dance 1 (3 hours per week)

Two end-of-year showcase performances

Year 2

  • Dramatic writing 1
  • Theoretical perspectives on performance or Representations of sexualities
  • Event management for the performing arts
  • Acting and voice 2 (9 hours per week)
  • Dance 2 (3 hours per week)
  • E-commerce and internet marketing for the performing arts
  • Direction and production 2 (3 hours per week)
  • Acting and voice 2 (6 hours per week)
  • Dance 2 (3 hours per week)
  • Event design and experience for the performing arts

Two end-of-year class showcase performances

Year 3

  • Dramatic writing 2
  • Performance on screen
  • Master class presentations
  • Acting and voice 3 (9 hours per week)
  • Dance 3 (3 hours per week)
  • The business of performing arts
  • Direction and production 3 (3 hours per week)
  • Acting and voice 3 (6 hours per week)
  • Dance 3 (3 hours per week)
  • Performing arts project

Four capstone end-of-year showcase performances


PA425 Internship (1200 hours, completed as a fourth year or incrementally in the course of the three years during summer and other breaks)

Entry requirements

The programme has one intake per year: September.

Applicants should furnish evidence of graduation from high school (secondary school), with final-year subjects to include completion of English.

A prospective student should submit an application for the course directly to the Admissions Office at American College Dublin. 

Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent).

An interview and audition is required for entry to the BFA in Performing Arts course.  For the audition you must prepare one classical monologue (ie. pre the year 1900) and one contrasting modern monologue (ie. post the year 1900). Each piece should be approximately three minutes. Students should contact the Admissions Office at American College Dublin for details on the interview and audition process.

Further education students

The College accepts students from further education colleges to all of its courses.  Students must have gained three distinctions in a cognate area of the programme that they wish to study. Students must have a full level 5 or level 6 award and this award may have been taken over a number of years. Students with a FETAC qualification can gain access to both American College Dublin and American College Delaware.

Mature student application

Mature applicants can apply directly to the Admissions office. An interview and audition is required for entry to the BFA in Performing Arts course.  For the audition you must prepare one classical monologue (ie. pre the year 1900) and one contrasting modern monologue (ie. post the year 1900). Each piece should be approximately three minutes. Mature students should contact the Admissions Office at American College Dublin for details on the interview and audition process.

Other EU applications 

Every student who has taken examinations in an EU member state is expected to have completed English in his or her final year.  The only exception to this is students who have completed the A-Levels. These students must have taken mathematics and English for their O-Levels.    

For overseas students Skype auditions can be arranged. More information is available in the Admissions menu or by contacting the Admissions Office, Tel: +353 1 6768939; Email:

Along with academic knowledge that students receive throughout the duration of their chosen subject, students will also acquire and develop transferable career skills from their degree discipline. These skills along with potential career paths are provided below to give you a well-rounded view of what the course has to offer. 

These skills include:

  • Communication 
  • Writing skills
  • Creativity
  • Effective presentation techniques 
  • Management, marketing and fundraising abilities
  • Interpretational and compositional competency with written texts
  • Organisational skills
  • Research skills
  • Time management

The BFA in Performing Arts is designed to prepare students for a number of future careers in following:

  • Theatre 
  • Arts and event management 
  • Local and community broadcasting 
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Cultural and business vocations 

The programme also serves as preparation for students to participate in a variety of postgraduate programmes such as the MFA in Creative Writing and MB in International Business. 

“The BFA in Performing Arts is the most ideal performance course in the country! In the theatre business, you need to be able to work in so many different areas, and the BFA programme nurtures just that! It ideal for anyone who wishes to follow the life of a performer and the versatility of the course is second to none. The experience alone of combining three of the nations top institutions is worth anything! American College Dublin, Cois Céim Dance and The Gaiety School of Acting combined add up to one phenomenal course. Thinking performance? Look no further!”

Jamie Nagle, BFA in Performing Arts, Current student.

Do you have a question? Need some advice? Contact the Admissions Office.