MA Historical Costume

MA Historical Costume engages the student in the potential of performance design and garment construction to explore complex ideas; some of which could stray into other areas of artistic experimentation. Students may come to the course with a background in costume, fashion, textiles or theatre/performance design or may have studied subjects from across the humanities including arts and performance. This master’s programme supports and encourages the student to investigate individual practice within an interdisciplinary framework, whilst developing a critical theoretical context for their work. The very special and unique nature of course delivery, through shared lectures, seminars, critiques and tutorials encourages both a ‘freewheeling’ atmosphere as well as an intense immersion in creative practice.

Whether students are interested in looking at historical influences or current socio-political issues related to dress, students will challenge the context of their study in design or historical costume construction within the broader framework of contemporary practice.

Course info

Course duration

1 year (full-time, 45 weeks)
2 years (part-time, 90 weeks)

Contact admissions

Headshot of Rebecca Pride

Rebecca Pride – Course Leader

BA (Hons) Drama and Theatre Studies, Higher Diploma in Fine Art (HDFA) Slade, PGCE, SFHEA, Doctor of Education (2019-2023)

Rebecca Pride graduated as a theatre designer from the Slade School of Fine Art, then in 2005, after 17 years in industry, Rebecca joined the Arts University Bournemouth as a lecturer, becoming course leader for BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design in 2009. Rebecca became an Associate Professor in 2020 and now focuses fill time on the MA Historical Costume course within The Graduate School.

In 2018, the BA course she led was awarded a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Distinguished degree level education in Costume Design for the leading UK creative industries.

What you'll study

The course is supported by lectures and seminars in areas of dress history, construction and design to enable students to critically reflect on, and to consider the place of their practice within the discipline. Seminar discussion with a diverse range of artists will invite critique of students’ work. The intense testing of work and practice in a challenging but safe arena is a particular element of the MA programme and an innate strength of the learning process that is engendered at the Graduate School.

Areas of expertise within the course team include: Historical Costume Construction, Costume Design Skills, Scenography and Dress History.

The exciting potential of this course is the ability to experiment and innovate whilst you hone your skills as a maker or designer. It fosters originality and creativity in the application of techniques of enquiry, research and making. It locates your practice in the interdisciplinary and global context, be it theoretically based in historical research and analysis or on a live production involving the transformation of costume design from page to stage.

You can download the programme specification.

Course structure

MA Historical Costume is designed to enable the student to follow their research interests at M level whether that interest lies in historical costume construction or performance design. Working with students and staff from across a breadth of MA disciplines students will enrich the wider post-graduate dynamic at AUB with the individual experience and graduate expertise they bring with them.

The first unit of study Strategies for Practice: Identification allows for investigation into the specific area of study, which will involve research in the area of costume history that will be the focus of the following units of study.

As students’ progress through the Strategies for Practice: Identification unit they will be expected to choose and connect with a theme and exploit its interpretation and potential to inform the direction of their Masters’ Project 1 and 2.

Areas of expertise and engagement with external professionals

The Undergraduate BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design course is one of the leading courses in the UK specialising in costume construction, set and costume design (Scenography) and film costume design skills. These specialist areas of study contribute to the quality and breadth of practitioners that Masters students in MA Historical Costume have the opportunity to meet and engage with within the studio, seminar and lecture theatre.

All staff within the course team act as senior members of practice led societies including the Performance Design Educators Collective (PDEC) and The Society of British Theatre Design (SBTD) as well as OISTAT and USITT. All Masters students are invited to contribute to the course Industry Liaison Group (ILG) which will always include members from both the theatre and film industries.

The Costume with Performance course enjoys the company of leading academics including visiting professor scenographer Professor Pamela Howard OBE, author of What is Scenography? (2009 and 2019), Oscar winning designer and AUB Honorary Fellow Jenny Beavan OBE (designer of The Kings Speech, Sherlock Holmes and The Chronicles of Cranford) as well as leading costume maker and Honorary fellow Jane Law.

Studios and resources

Students on the MA Historical Costume course benefit from specialist facilities and equipment, tailored to the studies of the course which reflects industry practice.

Your interview and portfolio

As part of your application to MA Historical Costume, we’ll invite you to interview and we’ll want to see your portfolio.

Electronic Portfolio

If you’re unable to attend interview Admissions will request a link to an online portfolio. Please don’t submit a portfolio until you have this request which will give details of how to submit to admissions. We’ll require a digital portfolio of approximately 20 images – please use these Portfolio Guidelines to help you prepare.

Related courses

Back to courses