BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma
2 years
Curriculum Manager: 
Nicola Kingsley

What is the BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts?

The role of the performer in the 21st century is very demanding and the training and skills required to meet the needs of this challenging industry need to be learnt to an exacting standard.  The BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts aims to equip students with performance skills and methods to work in today’s professional theatre. You will need to be a very focused and committed individual and willing to apply yourself fully to this 2 year course.  This course provides a wide variety of skills in Dance, Drama & Singing.

The course is delivered through 7 core units that everyone studying this course nationally will cover, with an additional 6 units chosen by Alton College.

The core units cover areas of the performing arts such as:

  • Investigating influential professionals in the industry by describing, analyzing and comparing their work.
  • Creating a group performance based on a specific brief
  • Creating a series of solo performances based on a specific brief
  • Learning about job roles within the industry, the skills relating to pitching an idea and self promotion
  • Developing and using skills as a dancer, actor and singer
  • Arts in the Community
  • Performing to a live audience

The additional units may cover:

  • Musical theatre
  • Jazz dance
  • Singing techniques
  • Acting styles
  • Choreography
  • Children’s theatre
  • Physical theatre
  • Screen acting


Is the BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts suitable for me?

The 2-year Extended Diploma in Performing Arts at Alton College is a full-time course which is an excellent way to prepare you for future work in the performing arts and supporting industries. You will need to be totally focused, dedicated and committed to all projects over this 2 year period working as a member of a team and independently. If you enjoy performing and developing your creative ideas through performance, rehearsal and workshops and thrive on the challenge of developing original and established works of theatre, this course is ideal for you. You will learn and develop skills within acting, singing and dance and the process of creating original work in all three disciplines.

How will I learn?

Learning will take place through a variety of challenging creative projects, assignments and public performances. You will be taught by specialist staff within the Wessex Arts Centre.  You will work in teams and independently on a regular basis i.e. performance, workshops, musical theatre, research/exploration, evaluation of professional theatre/dance, presentations, discussions, written tasks etc.  There will be high expectations of your commitment on this BTEC course.  In addition, a highly focused and dedicated approach to your studies will result in producing work of the highest standard at BTEC level 3.  

How will I be assessed?

You will study a total of 13 units during the two years of the course. The units are assessed via controlled assessments and coursework – and this may include the production of portfolios, shows, presentations, creative practical projects, and staff observations. None of the units require you to sit a formal examination, although some creative tasks are set by the exam board and some written work will be sent off for marking.
For each unit you complete you will be awarded a Pass (P), Merit (M), or Distinction (D) grade. As this qualification is equivalent to 3 A Levels, you will also be awarded an overall grade consisting of three grades – such as PPP, MMP, or D*DD.
Students must complete and pass the first year to be awarded a Foundation Diploma and progress to the second year and full Extended Diploma.


You may want to progress to either vocational training at a 'stage school' or conservatoire or to gain a degree/Higher National Diploma in a Performing Arts based subject at University. Alternatively, this course will also provide an invaluable knowledge and experience to work within other related areas of the theatrical profession i.e. direction, production, arts marketing etc. Occasionally some students use transferrable skills gained on this course such as creativity, communication, team working, confidence etc to go into other non-related fields.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. Alternatively if you have studied at level 2 you should have achieved a merit or above. Vocational courses are an ideal qualification for students who prefer coursework. To study this course you should have experience and interest in performing arts.

Course costs

All BTEC students will be asked to finance theatre trips throughout the course. Additional costs will include the following: printed course materials, dance kit, stationary, DVDs/CDs and a 4GB memory stick. 

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Drama and Theatre Studies

A Level
2 years
Curriculum Manager: 
Nicola Kingsley

What is A Level Drama and Theatre Studies?

Drama and Theatre Studies is a practical, intellectual and artistic subject. You will be expected to explore the structural elements of theatre from the page to the stage. In order to be successful and enjoy this subject, you will need to have a keen interest in the history of drama and study the practitioners, theatrical forms and conventions that make theatre such a compelling and exciting subject. You must be able to analyse and critically deconstruct the work you study, create and witness. It is recommended that students have achieved a C in GCSE Drama and English.

Is Drama suitable for me?

Current Drama students have stated that they find A Level drama exciting and challenging with an excellent mix of both practical and theory work. Students find the productions they work on in both years highly rewarding. Also, if a student clearly has design skills, these can be evaluated and considered for concentrated study when productions take place.

You must be prepared to put in the extra time that is required, outside of class, for rehearsals when in productions. There is a large workload so you need to be very organised and have an extremely dedicated and conscientious approach in order to be successful in both your practical and written work.

How will I learn?

Lessons are a healthy combination of practical learning supported by the necessary academic theory needed to understand the work being studied. Learning takes place through the following: practical workshops, researching background material on a playwright, written research (social/cultural/historical), rehearsal of a production, participating in improvisation, devised work and class discussion. These methods increase understanding of the subject and provide more detail and substance to the students work.

The style of homework varies according to the unit of exam work. Research, essay writing and rehearsals are all integral to the course. 4 to 5 hours of private study per week are expected in addition to timetabled lessons. This can, at times, all be taken up with external rehearsals.

How will I be assessed?

Component 1: Devising (*Component Code: 9DR0/01) 

Coursework - 40% of the qualification - 80 marks

Content Overview 

  • Devise an original performance piece. 

Assessment Overview 

1)  A Portfolio (60 marks, 40 marks assessing AO1 and 20 marks assessing AO4) 

2)  The devised performance/design realisation (20 marks, assessing AO2).  

Component 2: Text in Performance (*Component Code: 9DR0/02)

Coursework - 20% of the qualification - 60 marks

Content Overview 

  • A group performance/design realisation of one key extract from a performance text. (worth 36 marks)
  • A monologue or duologue performance/design realisation from one key extract from a performance text (worth 24 marks)

Component 3: Theatre Makers in Practice (*Paper Code: 9DR0/03)

Written examination - 2 hours 30 minutes - 40% of the qualification - 80 marks

Content Overview 

  • Section A - Live theatre evaluation
  • Section B - Page to Stage: Realising a Performance Text
  • Section C - Interpreting a Performance Text 


The course can lead you to studying drama at university, drama school or a Performing Arts course at the end of your A Level. Many students go on to study Drama and Theatre Studies/Performing Arts at a higher level and progress to working in theatre, television, film and video. It has also proved invaluable in the journalistic, teaching and legal professions.

When students study Drama and Theatre Studies at A Level it invests the individual with invaluable skills in articulating thoughts, exploring ideas, sharpening communication skills and providing the ability to work within a group situation both in a practical and academic setting.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C. We would normally expect you to have studied GCSE Drama or participated in a range of performances.

Course costs

All students will be expected to provide their own textbooks, stationery, computer disks and calculators (where appropriate).

Essential: £60 for textbooks.

Desirable: you will be expected to attend many theatre trips as part of the course. The cost of any trips and workshops can exceed £100.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Course Code




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