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Three students are working around a table in a studio, cutting and generally working with paper patterns and cerise pink fabric. The student in the foreground has their back to the camera. Image: Joseph Wilson

Performance Costume - BA (Hons)

BA (Hons)


4 years
Study abroad


This programme is for anyone with a passion for costume and a strong interest in the performing arts. If you have found yourself excited by costume in theatre, film, opera, musicals or dance, and longed to be involved in the creation of memorable and exciting images through costume, then this course is for you. 

Costume students are creative thinkers, inquisitive and open to new ideas, they are natural problem solvers and good communicators. You don’t need to be proficient in pattern cutting skills just yet, but if you want to be a Performance Costume student, you will be open to learning these skills.    

From the start, as a student of Performance Costume, you’ll be immersed in an exciting programme of discovery. You’ll explore the role of art and design in a modern society and, in particular, the role of costume design in the performing arts.  

The Performance Costume programme offers specialist training in both Costume Design and Making for stage and screen. You’ll learn how to respond to text, music and performance concepts and to develop designs for costume that are simultaneously innovative and supportive of the performer’s role. You’ll develop a repertoire of core skills, ranging from research, design for character, textiles, millinery, computer skills and illustration to pattern cutting and costume construction.


There are many career opportunities for our graduates including costume designers, costume makers, costume assistants, costume supervisors for the screen and stage industry. 

The professional skills and abilities developed on the programme prepare our graduates for a rewarding career path in the creative industries. Our graduates have an excellent track record of employment across the world including: Dune, Wheel of Time, Shadow and Bones, Downton Abbey, The Father, Game of Thrones, Outlander, The Crown, the Royal Opera house, Scottish Opera, National Theatre, Northern Ballet and the V&A. 

Why you should choose this programme


Develop both your creative and practical skills, enabling you to design well thought-out, wearable, innovative and expressive costumes for a range of performing arts contexts.


Develop personal projects in your final year, putting your most exciting ideas into practice.


You'll be at the heart of a community of like-minded creatives within the School of Design and ECA, supported by leading academics.


Graduate with the skills to enter a wide range of design-related careers in the creative arts, education and media.


You’ll be supported by academic staff and practitioners from the world of costume design. All will have specialist skills which will add to the range of your knowledge. 

  • 1st year internship. First year students’ intern with fourth year students assisting them in the completion of their final pieces. This creates a strong work ethic and professional networking opportunities.  
  • End of year Performance Costume live show. This event involves all Performance Costume students it provides valuable experience working with directors, choreographers, lighting designers and technical backstage staff in a theatrical venue.  
  • Live projects. Students are given opportunities to work on ‘live’ projects. These have included the 2018 opening ceremony of the Edinburgh International Festival entitled Five Telegrams a collaborative project with 59 Productions and composer Anna Meredith and more recently an environmentally focused design project and exhibition of costume work in collaboration with the Edinburgh Science Festival. 
  • Visiting lecturers and industry professionals. A number of high profile visiting lecturers from theatre, film and TV, past examples have included Tom Piper, Gabriella Slade, Robert Macfarlane and Trisha Biggar.

Widening Participation

ECA works with the University of Edinburgh Widening Participation (WP) team.

Widening Participation for undergraduates at the University of Edinburgh

Find out about Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES), a Widening Participation programme for eligible S4 to S6 students at state secondary schools in the south-east of Scotland.

ACES website

How to apply and entry requirements

If you'd like to study on an undergraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through UCAS. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to: 

  • See the structure of the programme and what you will study each year
  • See detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • Get information on what to expect after you apply
  • Find out about fees
  • Find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Application process

The portfolio guidance listed below is for 2024 entry. Portfolio guidance for 2025 entry will be updated by September 2024. 

You are required to submit a digital portfolio as part of your application which evidences your artistic ability and potential, and we strongly suggest that you begin to plan your portfolio as soon as you decide to apply. 

Please allow plenty of time for preparing your digital portfolio as it should be well presented and have a clear structure to it. Scan and photograph your work carefully to ensure clarity of images, you should also add in annotation to contextualise your ideas to the assessors.  

How you decide to put your portfolio together and what you decide to include will give us an insight into you as an individual and as an artist, include work you are proud of and show us your personality through that work, be selective and show your process as well as your final outcomes. The inclusion of drawing, in particular life drawing, is also recommended. 

Portfolios are assessed anonymously by staff on the Performance Costume programme we are looking for: 

Research and visual exploration

What are you interested in? What is influencing your work and what images do you find inspirational and informative in the development of your ideas?  

Idea development

Demonstrate the ability to explore and develop your ideas in a creative and unique manner. 

Selection and resolution

Final choices and presentation of final ideas demonstrate a considered resolution to a design brief. These should show good selection choices from the development stage and be well presented and evidenced. 

Contextual awareness

What is occurring in the arts sector at this time and who are the contemporary designers that inspire you and your work. What recent productions have you seen and how does this inform your current practice?

Portfolio advice video

Design portfolio guidance

Join Interior Design lecturer Gillian Treacy who will talk you through how to put together a competitive portfolio for our Design programmes, and what our academics look for when assessing your work.

Get in touch

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Undergraduate Admissions Office
+44 (0)131 650 3565

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