Accessibility links


Sign In
  • Home
  • News
  • Degree in Costume Construction to begin in September 2015

Degree in Costume Construction to begin in September 2015

BA (Hons.) course will focus on the cutting and making of costumes for opera, ballet, theatre, film and TV.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

30 March 2015 at 11.00am | 20 Comments

In a bid to address the current shortage of high quality costume makers, a new degree course in Costume Construction has been announced by the Royal Opera House, University of the Arts London (UAL) and South Essex College.

The UAL-accredited BA (Hons.) course will be based at the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre at High House Production Park in Thurrock and will focus on the cutting and making of costumes for opera, ballet, theatre, film and TV. Modules over three years will include hand sewing techniques, pattern cutting, garment construction, and the history of costumes throughout the years. Students will also get the opportunity to work with professionals from the Royal Opera House on costumes featuring in new Royal Ballet and Royal Opera productions.

Students will be taught how to make costumes that are lightweight and flexible for Royal Ballet dancers to perform in, as well as create costumes that are made to last many years as productions may remain in the ROH repertory for up to four decades. They will also learn how to make a range of different styles of costumes from leotards for contemporary ballets, to historically accurate costumes for opera productions set in specific periods of history.

‘This course is a fantastic example of industry and higher education coming together to invest in young people, training them alongside the very best professionals in their field, and giving them skills that employers so desperately need,’ says Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House. ‘The skills the students will learn on this course will give them the foundation to work not only in opera and ballet, but also in theatre, film or fashion, expanding the job opportunities even wider for the graduates.’

As well as hosting the Costume Construction course, the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre will also be home to more than 20,000 Royal Opera House costumes and wigs, as well as historic costumes from the ROH Collection. The High House Production Park is also home to the ROH’s Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, the Backstage Centre, and High House Artists’ Studios.

To find out more about the BA (Hons) Costume Construction degree, visit the South Essex College website.

The building of the Costume Centre is supported by Bob and Tamar Manoukian, European Regional Development Fund, Thurrock Borough Council, the Foyle Foundation, the Royal Opera House and South Essex College.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

30 March 2015 at 11.00am

This article has been categorised Learning and tagged Backstage, costume, degree, Higher Education, learning, Making, South Essex College, Support, Thurrock, University of the Arts London

This article has 20 comments

  1. Ann Mace responded on 21 April 2015 at 7:59am Reply

    Can one do this degree via on-line. I'm in New Zealand.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 21 April 2015 at 1:22pm

      Hi Ann,

      I'm afraid we're not able to offer the degree online.


      ROH Content Producer

  2. Cassie Powers responded on 23 April 2015 at 8:28am Reply

    Greetings from Seattle Washinton,
    I am very interested in enrolling in that course. I'd move there if I could. To gain a trade, and go to school, I hope the UK immigration would accept me. I would hope I could share a flat with roommates?
    Thanks for your reply.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 23 April 2015 at 10:47am

      Hi Cassie,

      To apply, you'd need to go through UCAS, the central organization through which applications are processed for entry to higher education:


      ROH Content Producer

  3. Cassie Powers responded on 24 April 2015 at 8:18am Reply

    Thank you Chris..,
    I'll seriously look into it.
    If it happens, it might not be in September, but you never know. :)

  4. Ellouise Russell responded on 2 June 2015 at 9:02am Reply

    HI I have just finished my level 3 nvq hairdressing at South Essex College and am very interested in a costume and wig making apprenticeship. Do you have any? I understand that wig making is a dying trade and am finding it impossible to find a trainee job.
    Many thanks


  5. Daphne Currier responded on 17 December 2015 at 10:43pm Reply

    I am a retired textiles teacher. One of my ex students gained a first in her Textiles degree. She is amazingly talented and showed a facility in construction throughout GCSE and A level textiles. Is there a fast forward into costume work for such a student ? Or a fast forward ? At GCSE she made a dress from a vintage Vogue pattern that was very complex and it was stitch perfect. Should I encourage her to contact you with a c.v. and some photos of work ? I can vouch for her ability.

  6. Erin responded on 30 December 2015 at 1:53am Reply


    Are there any significant scholarships for international students? I am interested in this program, but since I currently live in Canada it would be very difficult to acquire the money necessary to move to England
    Many thanks,

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 5 January 2016 at 10:39am

      Hi Erin,

      I'm afraid we aren't able to offer international scholarships at this time.



  7. What an amazing program!

    I received my BA in Theater with focus in Costume design and Construction in 2000. I have a custom sewing business and also give private sewing lessons. Firstly, is there a foreseeable graduate program? I realize this program has only just started, but I'm curious about what the desired outcome is above and beyond upping the qualified stitcher/tailor pool (which is obviously very needed regardless). Secondly, are there opportunities available that would facilitate moving from the US? Is there a scholarship program for internships? I do understand that there are not yet scholarships for the undergrad program.

    I'm very curious about any opportunities there might be for someone in my position that already has a fair bit of experience, is very interested in the direction your program is going and would love to be involved somehow, but is across an ocean without personal means to facilitate a move.

    I see that you have been diligently replying to previous inquiries and appreciate it greatly!

    Thanks so much,

  8. Pauline Lincoln responded on 17 January 2016 at 2:40pm Reply

    Do you have any plans to offer short courses for amateurs. I have just offered to help make costumes for my granddaughter's dance school and I am finding the pattern drafting and working with Lycra much harder than I anticipated. Weekend or online courses would be fantastic. (and might earn some revenue) The Royal School of Needlework model is what I had in mind.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 18 January 2016 at 5:21pm

      Hi Pauline,

      We haven't any immediate plans to, but you never know - this may change in the future.



  9. Elizabeth responded on 19 January 2016 at 6:38am Reply

    This is literally the program of my dreams!! While going to the UK would be amazing, is anyone aware of a comparable program in the US?

  10. Sue Parker responded on 21 January 2016 at 3:22pm Reply

    My daughter has a BA 1st honours in womens fashion but is very interested in progressing into costume design. Could she go straight to a MA in this area, does the ROH facilitate this at all or would she have to do another degree altogether.

  11. Alison Derrick responded on 5 April 2016 at 4:19pm Reply

    Good afternoon - what a wonderful opportunity, my son would be perfect for this training but is very dyslexic and doesn't have A levels.
    Are there other courses he can attend to learn these skills without having to jump through the academic hoops?

    • Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning)) responded on 8 April 2016 at 10:34am

      Dear Alison,

      We help support dyslexic students all the time. This is not a barrier to learning. Please come along to our next open event at the Thurrock Campus on Wednesday 18 May:

      We will be able to give you and your son advice on what to do next. If he is passionate about Costume Construction, your son should definitely not rule out enrolling on this degree in the future.

      Best regards,
      (Head of Marketing and Communications, South Essex College)

  12. alyson responded on 2 May 2016 at 4:43pm Reply

    My daughter is very interested in the Costume Construction degree. Where would an international student live? Is there any housing affiliated with the school?

Leave a reply to Ann Mace · Cancel

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional