Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Theatre Costume
Our two-year course is aimed at students pursuing a career as a costume maker or supervisor.
You will cover all areas of costume-making, from pattern-cutting through to the finished garment, and gain the skills needed to take a design or costume reference and transform it into a finished garment. You will also gain knowledge and practice of the duties and managerial skills of a costume supervisor.
Please note some elements of this course may be taught digitally as part of a blended learning programme if necessary.
This course is aimed at both costume-making and costume supervising.
We teach costume-making from first principles, from basic sewing skills, pattern-cutting and grading, through to the finished product. The basic sewing skills are organised in five levels:
- Hand sewing, seams, hems, fastening
- Pattern matching, tucks, cording, pleats and gathering, buttonholes, eyelets, false lacing
- Openings, bias rouleaux and piping, facings and using bias
- Fastenings (zips and fly opening)
Although some time is given to completing all levels, you will be expected to work on them outside teaching hours.
All these skills, as well as other maintenance and alterations, are practised throughout the course by working on all the RADA public productions as assistants. This improves work speed and gives experience in working with different fabrics and vintage costumes from our store, as well as working with professional designers and directors.
The forms of pattern-cutting we teach are flat (block), cutting on the stand, and draping – although investigation into further forms is also encouraged, such as going straight to fabric, sizing up from a grid, and taking a pattern from an existing garment. You will also learn pattern manipulation and grading throughout the course.
Some garments are taken through to completion as class projects, including corsetry, ruffs, period shirt tailoring and millinery. Others form personal projects in the second year, which are supervised, although you will be expected to work semi-independently in preparation for professional work.
Costume supervising is taught in the classroom with script analysis, budget skills and communication and management skills. It is also practised, firstly with the second year BA (Hons) Acting students as part of a short Shakespeare project, which is toured around schools in the London area. You will then have the opportunity to supervise two or three RADA professional performances, or a film project.
We also provide experience of other elements of a wardrobe department. There are introductory classes in hair and make-up, wig knotting, history of costume and costume props, fabric treatments and props skills.
The term starts with basic sewing before going on to block pattern cutting. You will also spend three days in the props department before working as assistant and dresser on the first set of productions.
You will then look at cutting on the stand and manipulating patterns, before assisting and becoming dressers on the second set of RADA productions. Ruff-making and an introduction to corset-making follows. There is also linear teaching in history of costume props and professional development, with some more instruction in pattern-cutting to finish the term.
The second term continues with a full corset project, with further period underwear if time allows. You will spend a couple of days with professional dyers to learn about fabric treatments, before assisting on the next set of productions. A shirt project follows, as well as a session on the history of costume, and two days on hair, make-up and wig-knotting.
The last set of productions is followed by some time to further investigate pattern-cutting and an introduction to millinery with a Sinamay/fascinator project. The term is completed by supervising work on the second year BA (Hons) Acting combat performances, the Prize Fights.
The final term of the year spends more time on millinery, including felt blocking and working with Buckram. There is further alteration and costume-making work on productions, as well as costume supervising teaching and a week of working with a professional tailor to learn the skills to make a jacket.
The second year is focused on projects and productions.
You will choose to make two or three personal projects – which involve producing a costume from scratch, using a design of your choice – or to supervise two or three RADA productions (a RADA film is also an option).
The work created is presented at an exhibition for industry and the public at the end of the year.
During the course, each student undertakes at least one secondment of approximately five weeks. This period can be split between more than one placement and its length can be changed depending on individual students’ training requirements.
Timetable and workload
Class times are 10am-5pm, although the workroom is available in the evenings for extra work if required.
When working on the productions, however, hours can be long. In the lead-up, staff will work alongside you throughout the necessary working hours. Evening and weekend work is common, but we try not to work beyond 9pm.
When working a show role, for example dresser or costume supervisor, there may be long hours during the tech week (usually 9am-10pm). Once the shows are open, you will have linear teaching during the day and show work in the evening, which lasts as long as the performance and will often include Saturdays. Productions usually run for approximately 10-12 days including two Saturdays, after which working hours return to the norm.
When working on the shows, the hours described above apply. When making a costume project, you will be expected to attend from 10am-5pm as a minimum, but can (and most students usually do) work some extra hours in the evenings in order to complete your projects.
You can find our term dates up to summer 2022 here.
Modules and assessments
Class and personal project work take place alongside roles on RADA public productions, all of which determine your progression through the course. Assessment takes place twice per term through a combination of finished garments and presentation folders, individual portfolios, research and self-assessments.
Year 1 (45 credits)
- Foundation technical theatre skills – 15 credits
- Foundation theatre costume skills – 15 credits
- Skills development – 15 credits
These are determined by undertaking two production roles in each term, alongside linear teaching.
Assessment Year 1
- six assessment points (two per term) which must all be passed to progress to Year 2
Year 2 (105 credits)
- Costume head of department supervisor (1) – 15 credits
- Costume head of department supervisor (2) – 30 credits
- Costume-making project (1) – 15 credits
- Costume-making project (2) – 30 credits
- Professional secondment and professional development exhibition – 15 credits
Assessment Year 2
- five assessment points (two per term), and passing the professional placement. The accumulated marks from the second year of the course determine the final grade.
Visit our theatre production staff list to read about our faculty.
Recent visiting professionals include:
- Sarah Palmer Manser (make-up and wig knotting)
- Mel McCleary (wig knotting)
- Deborah Tallentire (tailoring)
- Jessica Broas (millinery)
- National Theatre dye room
Apply by submitting our online application form, which will be followed by an interview.
We do not charge an application fee for this course.
A guide to our online application form
- Applications are online – you can fill out the form on a desktop, mobile or any other device.
- If you find that the form doesn't work, try using a different browser. We recommend Chrome or Safari.
- We ask questions about you including your address, school address, qualifications and household income.
- We ask for a passport-style photo of you. This can be a selfie or any other photo that clearly shows you from the shoulders up in portrait orientation up to 2MB in size. This is for our records only.
- Parts of the form will appear/disappear according to your answers – this is so we can collect the correct information for each applicant.
- The information we collect is confidential. Some of it is shared with our interview panel, but we mark this clearly on the form.
- You can save your progress and return to it later. If you press save, the form creates a URL which you will need to save or email to yourself. You can then use this link to return to your place in the form and continue filling it in.
- Once you have pressed 'Submit' on the application form you can no longer edit, so please make sure you have filled out everything correctly.
- You will receive a confirmation email to say your form has been submitted. This will also include a summary of your answers to the Your Details and Your Qualifications sections, so you have a record of these.
For 2021 entry, interviews will take place digitally. You will be asked to demonstrate your suitability for the course based on your previous qualifications and/or experience; we are particularly looking for enthusiasm for theatre and film work, and for all the various disciplines within a wardrobe department.
You will be asked to show any work that could support your interview, for example a garment or project that you have completed as part of a course or self-taught. We encourage you to share photos, notes etc. to help you speak about the processes you used, not just the finished item.
- be 18 years old by 1 September 2021
- have complete fluency in the English language
- have IELTs (academic) level 5.5 or above in all four components if English is not your first language
- hold a minimum of a foundation degree in a related subject
- have significant practical experience (gained through education or professional practice)
We will consider applicants without a relevant first degree, provided that they can evidence prior learning in this area or a related area for study at level 7.
Due to the creative nature of the course, the required balance of practical skills and independent learning ability are considered mandatory to progress within the course.
Information for disabled candidates
We consider diversity to be an enriching and vital part of what makes us one of the world leaders in providing vocational training. We encourage the opportunity for self-development regardless of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, marital status, nationality, sexual orientation, parental status, religion or belief.
We welcome applications from disabled candidates and encourage them to disclose relevant information regarding any disability when completing their application form, to enable us to provide additional support during the interview process. If you are a disabled candidate and would like further advice or guidance, please contact the admissions team directly.
Admissions, appeals and complaints
For information about RADA’s admissions, appeals and complaints procedures for higher education courses, please download and read our Admissions, Appeals and Complaints document. Please note that this process covers the following courses:
- BA (Hons) in Acting
- FdA in Technical Theatre and Stage Management
- BA (Hons) in Technical Theatre and Stage Management (progression year)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume
- MA Theatre Lab
Policies, terms and conditions
If you would like to know more about RADA’s admissions policies for higher education courses, please download and read our Admissions Policy
Please download the RADA Fees Policy for more information about fee levels and increases, deposits and payment.
Please see our Student Protection Plan for information about how we protect your rights.
You can read our terms and conditions for students here.
Tuition fees for the academic year 2021-22
Home (UK) students
Your course is two years in length so the total tuition fees for UK students will not be less than £13,810, and for international students not less than £25,276. Please note that we are likely to increase your fees year-on-year; see the RADA Fees Policy for more information about how we calculate tuition fee increases.
See below for information about whether you are classed as a Home (UK) or International student.
UK or International student?
There are strict regulations regarding residency which must be met in order to qualify for Home Student status. Please note: EU students who started a course in September 2020 or earlier are eligible to pay Home fees for the duration of their course; any EU student (except Irish nationals) starting a course from September 2021 onwards will have International student status, unless you have pre-settled status or settled status.
Home (UK) student
In order to be classed as a Home (UK) student you normally need to meet all of the following criteria on the first day of the first academic year of the course:
- You are settled in the UK (this means there is no immigration restriction on the length of your stay).
- You are ordinarily resident in the UK, and have been for the full three years before the first day of the academic year (ordinarily resident means that your main home is in the UK, and you are choosing to live in the UK).
- The main reason for you being in the UK was not to receive full-time education.
If you do not fall under the Home (UK) fee definition, you will be classed as an international student.
International students coming to RADA on a full-time course of more than six months will require a Student visa before coming to the UK to start your course. Without the visa you will not be allowed to enter the UK. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration website for further details.
The definitions on this page are only a very brief summary and there are a number of exceptions to the conditions listed. For more detailed information, please refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs guide.
Almost all materials you require for your course, including travel for any trips, will be included in your course costs.
Other materials costs: £300
The things not covered include footwear, clothes, play texts and stationery. International students will also have costs associated with the Student visa. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration website for further details.
Funding your training
It is important that you understand when you accept a place at RADA that you know how you will pay for it and whether you will need financial assistance. We do not take account of financial need when offering places, but we do reasonably assume that if you are applying to come to RADA, you will be able to pay the fees and support yourself.
This course does not qualify for a Postgraduate Loan through the Student Loans Company, but UK students are eligible for RADA scholarship support (see below for more information).
As PG Dip Theatre Costume students are not eligible for the postgraduate loan, RADA will consider applications for scholarships for students on this course. You should be from a family with an income of less than £25,000 to be considered.
It is unlikely that RADA will support all of your costs, so you should be able to fund the majority of your fee and living costs from other sources. Please note these are discretionary awards, subject to availability. Students should not rely on scholarship provision to be able to take up a place.
You may also be interested in
FdA in Technical Theatre & Stage Management
RADA’s two-year Foundation Degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management (TTSM) offers broad, practical training in all the areas that contribute to a theatre production, with the opportunity to specialise in your second year in the area you wish to take into a long-term successful career.
We are a close-knit, welcoming arts community where our students are individually supported throughout their training and beyond. Our students and staff come from many different backgrounds and from all over the world; we are united by our shared passion and commitment to theatre-making and storytelling.
We are based in Bloomsbury in Central London, near to University College London, Birkbeck, SOAS, the British Library, British Museum and a short walk to Covent Garden, the Southbank (National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe) and West End theatres. We are well-served by transport links, with mainline railway stations (King’s Cross, Euston, St Pancras) and a number of underground lines and buses within easy reach. Our location means we remain easily accessible for members of the industry and profession.
Classes and rehearsals are based in our buildings on Gower Street and Chenies Street. Gower Street, with its familiar façade, has been RADA’s home since 1905 and combines our history and heritage with contemporary theatre facilities that replicate today’s industry standards.
Our three theatres give you the opportunity to work in industry-standard spaces: the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, a fully flexible theatre with 194 seats; the GBS Theatre, a studio theatre seating up to 70; and the Gielgud Theatre, an intimate studio space seating up to 50. All our acting and theatre production students will work in at least one of these theatres during their time at RADA.
Studios and workshops
We have a range of studios and workshop spaces across our buildings on Gower Street and Chenies Street. These include teaching and rehearsal studios for actors; dedicated metalwork, carpentry, scenic art, video and props workshops; extensive props and costume stores; a costume-making workroom; a CAD suite; state-of-the-art sound studios; and equipment for filming on and off-site.
Our library houses a large collection of rare and out-of-print plays in the English language, as well as a good stock of books on many other aspects of theatre. You will also have access to a number of digital resources.
Refectory and RADA Bar
The Refectory offers subsidised meals for students (for example a salad bowl is £1.50) with hot and cold food daily. You may also heat up your own food to eat in the Refectory. The RADA Bar and café is open to staff, students and the public during the day (and in the evening during public productions), and offers a discount for RADA students.
Student services and support
We have a dedicated Student and Academic Services (SAS) department who are here to support you during your time at RADA from before you arrive until after you leave. You can drop in and see us if you need letters confirming student status, if you have queries about fees or student finance, or need assistance in applying for student finance.
We aim to get to know all students at RADA so we can help with your particular needs. You can find out who we are on the staff page.
The Student Wellbeing Service is located in our Chenies Street building and includes pastoral care and access to counselling at a time that suits our students’ busy schedules. Students can drop in or make an appointment to see someone, free of charge.
RADA has a relationship with a local GP (Ridgmount Practice), which is open to students living in designated postcodes. We can advise you on areas which will give access to this practice, especially if you have ongoing health needs. RADA offers students free access to physiotherapy on referral.
Chaplaincy and faith services
We have students from all faiths at RADA and our Student and Academic Services team can put you in touch with someone from a particular faith to support you at RADA. We do not have prayer rooms on-site at RADA.
Support for disabled students
We support students as individuals at RADA, and we will work with you to make appropriate adjustments and ensure that you can obtain additional support. We encourage potential students to disclose any disabilities early in the application process so we can make reasonable adjustments for you.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs that you might have because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or other disability. These allowances are additional to your other student finance and you won’t need to repay them. Find out more information about DSAs here.
Once you have a place at RADA, we can assist in identifying whether you are eligible for support. You will likely require a ‘needs assessment’ to determine what adjustments and financial assistance is necessary. We have a relationship with the North London Regional Access Centre (run by Middlesex University), and direct students to this service.
In keeping with our personalised training, you may be able to receive additional support for any condition or impairment directly from RADA. We will determine this with you as you progress through your course.
Where to live
RADA does not currently have its own student accommodation. This means that our students live in one of the following:
- local halls of residence, including those run privately
- with other students in private houses and flats
- lodging with another person.
Find out more
Once you have accepted your place at RADA, we will provide information about local accommodation contacts. We aim to connect incoming students with one another, which can help you to look for accommodation together. Our current students will also be looking for people to share with, and we also help you to make those connections.
For low-income students (i.e. those from a background of under £25,000), please talk to us once you have your place if you might struggle with a deposit for a flat or house.
Some students will carrying on living at home whilst at RADA and others live across London. We advise that you balance out both the time and cost of a commute with spaces that might seem more expensive, but are closer to the Academy – you will spend a lot of time here.
Our students pay an average of around £650 per month (based on a 12-month contract) for a room in a shared house. Some private halls can be considerably more expensive. If you have specific access needs, please speak to someone in our Student and Academic Services team for assistance in finding an appropriate place to live.
The course aims to prepare you for a career in costume supervising and costume-making, across theatre, TV and film. The training has also led students into other career paths connected to the specialism, for example:
- Running wardrobe
- Touring supervisor
- Dyeing and breaking down
- Fabric printing
- Costume hire
With further training, the course can lead to a profession in the following areas
- Wig making and styling
- Costume designing
Recent graduate destinations
Graduates have recently worked in costume-making, supervising and other costume and wardrobe related roles at:
- Almeida Theatre
- Bridge Theatre
- Lyric Hammersmith
- Royal Albert Hall
- Southwark Playhouse
- Theatre Royal Stratford East
West End productions
- Aladdin the Musical
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Heathers the Musical
Regional and international tours
- The Crucible
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- Madagascar: the Musical
Film and television
- BBC's Strictly Come Dancing,
- ITV's Dancing on Ice
- Netflix's The Crown
- Leavesden Studios
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout
We no longer produce a physical prospectus. All the information you need about our full-time courses can be found on our website, including course content, costs and funding, graduate destinations, the application process, welfare support and where to live.
Due to the restrictions in place in response to Covid-19, we are not able to hold in-person open days this year. Details of digital events will be announced soon; sign up to our mailing list here to receive information.
RADA does not use the UCAS service for applications and we have an independent admissions process. Apply via the online application form at the top of this page.
You will receive an automated email confirming receipt of your application when you have submitted it. We will then contact you with a date for your interview.
Please note the admissions office can get incredibly busy at peak times while we process applications and schedule interviews and auditions. We’ll try to get back to you as promptly as possible. If you haven’t heard from us after one month of sending your application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can confirm whether we have received your application, or update you on when we anticipate having an interview date for you.
If you are ill on the day, please email email@example.com in advance of your interview time. We will try to provide an alternative date, but this may not be possible as it is dependent on where we are in the admissions process.
No. You should apply for a place in the year before the September you wish to begin your training.
The PgDip in Theatre Costume is not eligible for any government funding, so students on this course will need to be able to finance their training themselves.
We do not take account of financial need when offering places, but we do reasonably assume that if you are applying to come to RADA, you will be able to pay the fees and support yourself. However, we will consider applications for scholarships for students on this course.
Please read our ‘Costs and funding’ section above for more information.
There are different fees for UK and international students. You must have lived in the UK for three consecutive years prior to starting the course in order to qualify for UK level tuition fees.
If, for example, you were born in the UK but then moved to Australia for twenty years, you would be liable to pay the international rate.
Please read the information under 'Tuition fees' to know if you are an UK or international student.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and is now in a transition period. In June 2020, the UK government announced that EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the 2021-22 academic year. This does not apply to Irish nationals, or anyone who benefits from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.
There is an intake of up to four students in September each year.
Due to the academic timetable including evening and weekend classes or productions, there would be little opportunity to work during term time.
It is important that students have a balance of study and rest throughout their time at RADA to enable them to complete their training satisfactorily.
Generally, we do not accept student transfers into our higher education courses. For our higher education Theatre Production courses (FdA Technical Theatre and Stage Management, one-year BA (Hons) Technical Theatre and Stage Management top up award and PgD Theatre Costume), we are unlikely to accept students part-way through the course. We take students from other institutions into the BA (Hons) TTSM top-up award, but not part-way through the year and they must apply and be interviewed as with all applicants.
We are not able to support students transferring between courses at RADA, particularly between acting and theatre production degrees as these are very different and vocational pathways. A student wishing to change direction would need to be interviewed or auditioned to join one of the other courses.
You can download our policy statement on transferring courses here.
Due to the restrictions in place in response to Covid-19, all interviews will now take place online. We are planning to hold digital events so you can get an insight into our facilities and find out more about what it is like to come to RADA; sign up to our mailing list here to receive information.
Current RADA students are continuing their courses with a combination of in-person and online training. We will continue to adapt our training in light of changing government protocols and advice, but please note courses in September 2021 may encompass some elements of online training.
RADA is currently closed to the public and to visitors. Please read more about our Covid-19 protocols here.