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Millie’s UK University Spotlight: Best Universities to Go Into Acting!

Millie’s UK University Spotlight: Best Universities to Go Into Acting!

Article written and edited by Yadavi Madani.

Here are some of the best universities in the UK to go into acting, and how to get into them. Break a leg!

So.. what actually is a performing arts degree?

Performing arts degrees can range from anything between acting, drama, film studies or even musical theatre. There’s so much that goes into creating a production, so if you’re interested in performing arts and acting, you are sure to find something just for you!

But first, let us debunk a myth about these degrees: they are NOT easy. Lots of people seem to think that acting degrees are a walk in the park and only people who can’t handle more academic courses should take them, right? Wrong. The people who excel at drama and acting are those who are truly passionate about performing. It takes hours of work, rehearsals and bouncing back from failure to be successful.

With the right commitment and talent, it can be a fantastic degree with amazingly rewarding results, considering some of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood graduated from the following universities! Let’s take a look into some of them (the universities, not the movie stars):

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

This prestigious academy for performing arts was founded in 1845 in Glasgow, Scotland. The university ranks 1st in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 9th in the world (Top Universities) for performing arts, making it a top choice for aspiring actors. It’s a relatively small institution compared to other universities, with 1,280 students from over 50 countries. Its small size gives it an excellent staff-to-student ratio, with class sizes that allow for individual support to each student. Here’s some information about the university’s top ranked majors:

Acting

  • IB: 24 points
  • A-Levels: Any two A-Levels
  • Appropriate international qualification

Musical Theatre

  • IB: 24 points
  • A-Levels: Any two A-Levels
  • Appropriate international qualification

Contemporary Performance Practise

  • IB: 24 points
  • A-Levels: Any two A-Levels
  • Appropriate international qualification

While the academic entry requirements seem relatively low, you will have to attend an interview and audition that will be the deciding factor in your application. There are four rounds of auditions, with candidates being eliminated in each round.

First, you have to record a personal statement on-camera stating why the course is right for you. You will also have to record two contrasting speeches between 1-3 minutes representing different emotions. The panel wants to see you bring a character to life, not necessarily demonstrate originality of choice. The second, third and final round of auditions take place in front of senior figures at the academy, who will ultimately decide if you deserve a place or not.

“The panel wants to see you bring a character to life, not necessarily demonstrate great originality of choice.”

While it sounds scary, the audition process is there for you to showcase your talent, so if you believe that you can be a great performer give it your best shot! Find more about the application process here.

Did you know…

  • Some graduates from the university include names like Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education)?
  • The first international football game of Scotland vs England was held in Glasgow in 1872?
  • 85% of graduates in 2019 secured agent representation within one month of graduation?

And… CUT. That’s a wrap on The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland!

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Guildhall has seen many of its students take to the big screen thanks to its rigorous training and outstanding teaching. It ranks 2nd in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 6th in the world (Top Universities) for performing arts. The university was founded in 1880 in the City of London and has just over 1,000 students from over 40 countries.

“Guildhall has an array of world-renowned cultural institutions on its doorstep.”

The university’s top ranked majors span across its three main disciplines: music, drama and production arts. The application process relies heavily on auditions and interviews through which prospective students are eliminated or accepted into the university. There are three stages of auditions, with the first two being held online. However, the final callback is in-person in London. If you are unable to attend this, you will not be considered for the degree. Find more about the audition process here.

Did you know…

  • Guildhall graduates include Daniel Craig (Casino Royale), Naveen Andrews (Lost), and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)?
  • The university is situated close to London’s West End Theatres, Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House and the Southbank Centre, all places rich in the performing arts?
  • Guildhall is near some of London’s most famous landmarks, including The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Gherkin?


The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD)

CSSD is a prestigious and rigorous performing arts university in London founded in 1906, ranking 3rd in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 33rd worldwide (Top Universities). The university has 1,100 students and has seen countless of them go on to fame through film, television and theatre. Some of its top ranked majors include Acting, Theatre and Musical Theatre, all of which require 2 A-Levels (or international equivalent) and an audition to gain a place at the school. The above degrees have three stages of auditions, where you are required to prepare four components:

  • One memorised classical speech from their list
  • One memorised contemporary speech written after 1960
  • One devised piece inspired by a painting to test your creativity
  • One memorised song or poem (if you choose not to sing then you can only be considered for BA Acting courses)

Selected candidates will then be called for the second and final auditions, where you may be asked to perform some of their previous pieces or new ones. Through the audition process, the university is looking for fluent english, a “serious, ongoing commitment to an acting career”, trainable skills and a “readiness to take risks”. Think you’ve got what it takes? Find more about the audition process here.

Did you know…

  • CSSD alumni include none other than Dame Judi Dench, Carrie Fisher, Martin Freeman, Kit Harington and Graham Norton? And another fun fact: Ian McKellen offers mentorship to CSSD students!
  • They have a course on puppeteering? One of their top graduates Toby Olié was the puppeteer for the West End spectacular War Horse!
  • The university’s London location gives it great access to theatres and the West End, which is only a tube ride away?

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)

LAMDA is one of the oldest specialist drama schools in the UK, founded in 1861. The university has a much smaller size of 670 students, which allows it to give much more personalised and individual attention to each student. Some of its top degrees are Professional Acting, Directing and Classical Acting for Professional Theatre. The only academic requirement you’ll need is a fluent level of English, so international students will need to complete the IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 to be considered. Auditions are first self-taped and then an auditionist panel decides whether or not you receive a place at the university. You can find more about the audition here.

Did you know…

  • LAMDA has multiple short courses for those looking to try out acting before applying for a full time degree?
  • The university’s chancellor is Sherlock and Dr. Strange star, Benedict Cumberbatch?
  • LAMDA was a founding member of the Federation of Drama Schools?

Last but by no means least, a university specialised in dance and drama!


The Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

This prestigious dance and drama school is situated in Central London, recently founded in 2001. It ranks 10th in the UK (Complete University Guide), and is made up of small schools that each specialise in different disciplines of performing arts. Some of its top majors are Professional Acting and Screen Acting. For both of these courses you need a minimum of 2 A-Levels (or international equivalent) along with a series of auditions. The first audition round is online, consisting of two contrasting monologues. If successful you will be asked to submit a self-taped second round audition piece, and lastly there is a final round recall audition. Note: these courses are only open to UK residents. Find more about their acting courses here.

Did you know…

  • The campuses of the main schools are located in the heart of three vibrant locations: London, Bristol and Leeds?
  • Notable alumni include Daniel Day-Lewis, Olivia Coleman, Patrick Stewart and Pearl Mackie?
  • The Conservatoire is one of the newest founded performing arts universities in the UK?


Thinking of pursuing a degree in performing arts? Excellent! With the above-mentioned universities, and many more worldwide, you’ll have many opportunities to train in the performing arts and make a career for yourself through drama, theatre and acting! And remember, one of the great things about acting is that you can go into it at any time in your life: you’re never too old to start. Sign yourself up for a free consultation to plan your next steps at university!