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Drama and Creative Writing BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
3 years full time WW84 2018
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2018

This course is subject to validation.*

Why choose this course?

This course allows you to combine two subjects which have always been popular with our students. Do you want to gain knowledge and understanding of the history, practice and cultural significance of theatre, and writing for the stage? Are you interested in learning the craft of scriptwriting and enhancing your creative skills by exploring other forms including poetry, prose fiction, life writing and experimental writing? This is the course for you!

As well as doing lots of practical work, you'll also be introduced to a range of performance theories which you can apply to your practice as playwrights, performers, directors or researchers.

We have a strong link with Kingston's Rose Theatre - the largest producing theatre in south-west London. Drama students benefit from the resources and expertise of a professional theatre and gain important industry awareness. Regular classes are held in The Rose Studio, and occasional masterclasses on the main stage.

What you will study

The drama and creative writing course offers a dynamic, inclusive and authentic approach to the study of theatre and performance, allowing you to work in conditions emulating existing new writing theatres. Through active seminar/workshops, you'll acquire the dramaturgical, directorial, ensemble and performance techniques that will equip you to work in the performance industry.

Our existing relationships with theatres including the Royal Court, and The Bush (in addition to The Rose) and companies like Headlong, will be utilised to ensure that you are exposed to cutting edge methods and techniques. You'll also acquire up-to-date practical knowledge through masterclasses from practitioners like British playwright Laura Wade, award-winning English playwright Roy Williams, The Royal Court's Elyse Dodgson and Jack Bradley (former literary manager Royal National Theatre).

You'll also be encouraged to develop texts through workshops with performers, rehearsed readings and full productions. Students regularly take part in the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston, and the Camden Fringe Festival. Students who have previously participated in these activities have gained valuable professional experience adding to their employability.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module centres upon practical work designed to develop the skills appropriate to the undergraduate study of creative writing.  These skills will be focused in the following areas: the analysis and use of published writing; language and style; seminar/workshop practice; and habits of writing, self-reflection and revision.  The module will investigate how writers think about their craft and the techniques they use to write most effectively in their various mediums. Weekly lectures will be given by practicing writers who will introduce students to their own published work as well as that of a wide range of other authors. Students will read, analyse and discuss poems, short stories, plays and essays, and will develop a greater awareness of language and style in writing through a variety of exercises.  These workshop exercises will allow students to establish guidelines for constructive participation and encourage co-operation and self-reflection.

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  • This module is designed to familiarise students with a range of rhetorical strategies, aesthetic techniques, redrafting and editing skills, while also providing the opportunity to practise writing and editing in a number of literary and non-literary forms. In "Writing that Works" students are introduced to key techniques for writing effectively and they develop their ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in writing by studying a number of different forms of published texts, both literary and non literary. These abilities are first developed by reading and examining good and bad examples of writing in a variety of forms written for different audiences – from short stories and poems, to newspaper articles, commercial writing, blogs, ads, speeches, emails, informational pamphlets, and business letters.  In addition to the examples offered by tutors, students will be encouraged to source independently further instances of good and bad writing to share with the class in seminars. The next step is for students to practise and obtain tutor and peer feedback on their own writing in these forms and styles.  Transferable skills are embedded in the module through the editing and redrafting practice in which students synthesise the reading, analysis and feedback they have received in order to produce a portfolio of writing that works. The module will make use of the expertise of a number of our Writers in Residence, Distinguished Writers and Creative Writing staff who will present and discuss examples of their own writing that has, and hasn't, worked. 

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  • This module compliments and extends knowledge and understanding of key concepts of performance developed in Making Theatre Happen by focussing on the relationship between the actor and the written playtext.

    There are two interweaving strands and each is designed to serve as a foundation for students' ongoing studies.  Students explore fundamental components of drama such as plot, action, character and dialogue and examine ways in which each is presented in a series of written playtexts.  These plays are studied in detail and each is identified as a pretext for performance.  Students are introduced to ways of interrogating the texts and develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the relationship between what is written on the page and what is presented on the stage. The same playtexts are also used to explore a range of differing performance methodologies that can be utilised to identify the performance potentials of a text in a workshop environment.  Students are led through cycles of Preparation, Exploration and Realisation - understanding what these terms mean and the actions they consist of will be an important aspect of the module - and not only learn appropriate ways in which to create intelligent and imaginative performance informed by a written text but also develop a range of acting skills necessary to perform them effectively. 

    Throughout the module students are also introduced to the basic principles of theatre lighting and sound and will be encouraged to explore the impact of these technical elements when used in a performance context.  

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  • The module introduces students to a range of contemporary cultural and critical perspectives on drama, and investigates the relationship between culture and performance. The major emphasis of the module is upon developing a refined understanding of how drama, theatre and performance operate in different contexts. The main features of the module are the investigation of ways in which drama expresses cultural and critical perspectives in practice, and the exploration of theories such as post-colonialism, feminism, and materialism as creative and analytical tools. The module is taught through seminar discussions and related practical workshops, supported by extra-curricular events such as theatre visits. The module is assessed formatively through the presentation of a performance essay and a supporting rationale.

    Culture and Performance provides an essential platform for students' understanding of Drama as a discipline, and helps to deepen their understanding of what theatre is, how and why it is made, and how it makes meaning. The module provides an essential introduction to later Drama modules that explore cultural and critical perspectives in more detail.

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Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This module is a core requirement for full field Drama students. It focuses on new writing and its pre-eminent place in contemporary British theatre culture. Building on skills and knowledge gained in The Actor and the Text and Staging Histories, the module is designed to allow students both to study key plays in depth and also to develop an understanding of the historical conditions that led to the primacy of the 'new play' in British theatre of the post war period. Taking the establishment of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court in the mid-fifties as a starting point, students will study key plays and playwrights in the process acquiring an accurate overview of the styles of writing that have been most acclaimed, influential and/or controversial in recent decades. Particular attention will be paid to British playwriting in the 1990s and the origins, impact and aesthetics of the In-Yer-Face school. Students will also consider the impact of cultural and institutional policies, such as the establishment of the Arts Council and the young writer's programmes at various subsidised theatres - the Royal Court, Soho Theatre - in shaping contemporary drama, its forms and principal preoccupations.

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  • The module introduces students to the craft of writing dramatic scripts for stage, screen and radio. Through a series of practical exercises, writing tasks and feedback students will become familiar with key principles of dramatic writing that apply across the three forms.  A refined sense of how 'conflict' and 'action' build suspense, tension, humour or pathos; of how to create characters that draw the audience's empathy; of the importance of 'subtext' and of how to harness the scenographic dimension through stage directions and settings, all contribute to the craft of a successful dramatic writer. In addition, sessions on radio and screen writing will not only introduce students to the specific conventions of these forms but also, in drawing attention to the spoken word and aural dimension (in radio) and visual story-telling (in screen), students will be sensitised to the power of the scenography as a component of dramatic craft.

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  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • This module is an option for those students taking Full Field and Half Field Drama in Level 5. It is an opportunity for students to enlarge particularly on studies in Staging Histories from Level 4. Three or four of Shakespeare's plays are studied in depth, and others used for reference. The plays are studied in a practical way, to explore their form and elicit their changing meanings in different theatrical and cultural contexts and at key historical moments. The module explores changing approaches to production since the first performances in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre and evaluates the impact which players and directors and their methods have had on the reception of Shakespeare at different particular moments. The module seeks to pinpoint how the social/ cultural/ political concerns of any given time have been dramatised in productions of the plays. Changing themes are explored to see how they might have been dramatised at different times, as a means of defining what has been meant and what is meant by ‘Shakespeare'.  Research tasks include the treatment of the plays in different playing contexts: on the stage, on the screen and in the workshop/ classroom.

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    • This is a core module for full-field Drama students and an option for those taking Drama as a major field. It builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills students gain in the Level 4 core module DA4002 Making Theatre Happen, enabling them to develop and adapt these within the context of devising theatre. It begins with an exploration of dramaturgical principles in relation to devised performance with a focus on how companies and practitioners select and respond to stimulus material of different kinds and how they shape that material into performance. Students study and critique devised productions and engage in creative exercises which enable them to experiment with a range of methods and techniques of devising. They then explore ways in which these approaches can be utilised and adapted within community and applied contexts. They are introduced to principles of theatre as social intervention, studying examples of applied theatre practice and participating in workshops focused around the employment of devising techniques in community contexts with a particular emphasis on collaborative methodology. For their assessment, students create a group-based devised performance They can choose to conceive of this as aimed at a specific audience such as a specific age group or community.  

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    • This is a core module for all Drama students. It builds on the knowledge, understanding and performance skills students have gained in Level 4 modules, particularly DA4003, The Actor and the Text and DA4001 Staging Histories. This module provides an opportunity to explore in detail the key facets of Modernism, as it was manifested in theatre.  The first part of the module explores the themes and principles of Naturalism in theory and practice. Students study its historical context and conventions alongside the work of key dramatists and directors who helped to shape Naturalistic theatre. The exploration of this key movement in modern theatre is underpinned by practice.  Key scenes are explored in detail and appropriate processes used to realise them in performance. The second part of the module explores the gravitation towards the ‘Anti-Realism' movement of the early twentieth century Avant-Garde, touching on Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism and Absurdism. The conventions, themes and principles of these movements are explored in terms of their social, cultural and political concerns. Selected texts from key dramatists will be fully interrogated within the workshop/classroom and their influence on performance today will be examined.

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    • DA5006: The Theatre Director: crafting productions for the stage.

      This is an optional module that enables Level 5 Drama students to explore in detail a range of theatre rehearsal and production processes.  Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the role and function of the theatre director in relation to the other key members of the creative team: actors, designers and technicians, and apply the skills and competencies they develop to the independent creation and production of theatre performance.  The module's initial focus is directorial preparation and students will use Katie Mitchell's The Director's Craft as a template to explore, amongst other things, production-focused play analysis; interpretation and Dramaturgy; workshopping the text and ways in which to rehearse a scene.  This section of the module will culminate in the preparation and presentation of a rehearsal demonstration.  They will then be encouraged to think about the production more broadly and produce a director's book demonstrating that they are able to to consider carefully the perspectives and approaches of theatre designers and technicians whilst discovering effective ways in which to collaborate with the production team.

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    • This is an optional module for all Drama students at Level 5 that runs throughout the academic year and introduces students to a range of European popular performance traditions.  Commedia dell' arte, pantomime and clown are typical examples of these traditions although the module could equally focus on a number of other forms.   The origins and histories of these modes of performance are examined and used as a foundation for the exploration of theory associated with academics and practitioners such as Jacques Lecoq, John Rudlin, Dario Fo and John Wright. Both the historical context and the theoretical framework provide a reliable basis for the practical exploration of essential techniques and conventions of performance associated with each of the forms studied.  The mutable and capricious Clown, an enduring feature of popular performance, is a recurrent figure within the module and serves as a playful means of approaching concepts such as presence, play, and the role of the spectator in the creation of meaning as well as common themes such as marginality, transgression order and chaos.

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    • On this module, students will have the opportunity to study fiction and poetry writing in greater depth, learning practical techniques for crafting expressive, imaginative work. Aspects such as voice, point of view, structure, character, imagery, and tone will be explored through the reading and discussion of texts by a variety of contemporary authors, whose work reflects the diverse range of styles and approaches at work today. Students will be asked to experiment with these elements in their own writing, and to participate in improving each other's work by offering thoughtful, constructive feedback. Along with developing their own personal sense of voice and style, students will practise applying skills learned on the module to real-world situations faced by professional authors, such as writing a piece for a commission or for a target audience.

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    • This is a dissertation-style module, taught through a combination of small-group sessions and individual tutorials, in which students will have the opportunity to work on a sustained creative writing project of their choosing. They will produce a substantial piece of writing in a chosen form, having undertaken contextual reading in that form and engaged in other research as appropriate, such as location scouting, conducting interviews, or visiting archives and specialist collections. Through group workshops and presentations, as well as one-on-one tutorials, students will receive constructive feedback and guidance on how to plan, structure, write, revise, and edit their projects, and gain advice in developing the skills and habits necessary to working independently. In addition, students will learn how to plan strategies for the possible dissemination and promotion of their projects in the world outside the university, as professional authors would, such as through various methods of publication or performance. By learning to work independently and by planning the dissemination and promotion of their projects, students will acquire the entrepreneurial skills and abilities necessary for success in self-employment and in other professions.

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Year 3 (Level 6)

  • Creative Writing Dissertation Project is a year-long 30-credit module which showcases and synthesises students' practical skills, knowledge gained, and creative talent nurtured and developed throughout their creative writing degree. It documents them in a unique portfolio that can be presented to a range of audiences, potential sponsors and employers. The specific nature and dissemination of the project is influenced by the type of joint-honours degree the students are taking and this is reflected in the proposal initiated and developed by students themselves in discussion with their supervisor. The project also builds on accumulated experience in research and creative writing in an inter- and transdisciplinary context, as it encourages students to make use of lateral thinking in order to draw on knowledge from across their course in conceptualising and producing their creative dissertation. It fuses creativity, initiative and imagination cultivated in a practice-based writing course with skills gained in joint disciplines in a way which resonates with the demands of contemporary creative economies and job markets.

    In its format, the portfolio of work included in the Creative Writing Dissertation Project reflects stages of project development and execution encountered in a range of creative and research industries (proposal/bid, creative practice, dissemination and evaluation). Specific phases are designed to strengthen initiative and enterprise, in a process which benefits from employability-related skills gained in Level 4 and Level 5 modules such as, but not limited to, Writing that Works and Independent Creative Writing.

    Throughout the project, students gain knowledge of the most effective ways of presenting creative work to a wider audience including employers, sponsors, and commissioning bodies. Against the increasing dominance of self-publication, they learn how to operate successfully in the literary market without traditional networks of support. The work on the portfolio emphasises transferable skills and employability, as well as entrepreneurship and self-reliance, whether the students are preparing to enter the job market, work freelance or progress to post-graduate study.

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  • This module is an optional module for all Drama and Creative Writing students at Level 6 and runs throughout the academic year.  Responding to the changing status of live performance in the twenty-first century, the module explores alternatives to the mainstream 'dramatic' tradition of playwriting. It takes into consideration how cultural shifts such as the advent of new technologies and a global community are or might be reflected in contemporary writing for the stage and in media-based performance (for example audio drama and experimental film). Students encounter a selection of play-texts and performances from the historical and contemporary avant-garde which act as prompts to their creative explorations of playwriting and performance writing methods and techniques.  Students are encouraged to be experimental and innovative in their own writing, and to question the role of both the theatre and the playwright.  This is a practical and creative module that may involve performance-based exercises (for example improvisation and task-based performance) as well as writing ones.

    The module develops understandings and themes encountered in DA5005 The Play Today and is particularly suited to students who achieved a pass or above in DA5001 Write Action.  The module is ideal preparation for students who are considering Master's Level study in playwriting (particularly Kingston University's MA Playwriting), as well as those looking to pursue performance-making after graduation.

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  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • The cultural impact of music hall, variety theatre and differing incarnations of cabaret has been felt at various times since the latter half of the nineteenth century and the legacies of these traditions continue to inform a wide range of current performance practice. This year-long module, which is optional for all Drama students at Level 6 provides, an opportunity to study a range of popular performance forms from historical, theoretical and practical perspectives.  It therefore enables students to investigate issues such as the impact of Modernism and the emerging avant garde on the cabaret culture that spread throughout Europe, but significantly not as far as the UK, during the late nineteenth century; the importance of the halls in the development of popular culture; the birth of alternative cabaret and subsequently alternative comedy as a reaction to the Thatcherite politics of the late 1970s and early 1980s; and the current popularity of neo-burlesque.  It also supports the exploration of essential practicalities such as the development and expression of a performer's personality; establishing rapport with the audience; ways in which material might be generated; and the necessity of presence and spontaneity.   

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    • This is a year-long optional module in the Creative Writing field. It provides an opportunity for students to challenge their work in each form (Prose, Poetry, Drama) by reading experimental writing within and across genres and traditional form boundaries, and to produce a portfolio of work that engages with experiments of their own. It will follow a lecture/seminar format, with some small-group workshops and tutorials, as well as an online forum for peer review. It may be of interest to students wishing to engage in experimental writing in a sympathetic environment.

      The main features of the module are the study of experimental literary texts of the 20th and 21st centuries -- such as experimental novels that play with form and genre, visual, concrete, digital or alternative poetry, and innovative drama – and the creative writing practice either in imitation of such experiments, or in the experimental creation of new and hybrid forms and genres. This dual focus on experimentation – a conceptual exploration and the practical testing of literary boundaries -- enables students to produce work that challenges, experiments with, or reflects upon preconceptions of form, genre or language.

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    • Building on knowledge and skills acquired in Level 5, this module is designed to provide students with in depth knowledge and understanding of key trends in playmaking in the twenty first century. In particular the module allows students to develop critical awareness of the complex relationship between geopolitical events and pressures including the War on Terror, the excesses of late capitalism, postfeminist debates and the digital revolution and theatre in contemporary Britain. The module considers how policy makers, theatre companies, dramatists and theatres have responded, and continue to respond, to the social, political and economic pressures that problematise the very idea of Britain and Britishness in the twenty first century. The course will focus on the performance of contemporary British identities in relation to class, ethnicity, gender and nation.

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    • Tragedy, Catastrophe, Trauma is a special-study option module in the third year Drama field, and may be taken by both single honours and joint honours students.

      The module examines how ideas about tragedy have changed, and how these changes have produced different forms of tragedy at different times. The major emphasis of the module is on approaches such as Howard Barker's Theatre of Catastrophe, where the idea of tragedy is re-worked in relation to the practitioner's understanding of contemporary social, political and cultural contexts.

      The main feature of the module is critically-informed experimentation with staging a tragic drama for today. The module is taught through practical workshops exploring key texts in the development of tragedy. These texts are introduced and contextualised through a series of seminars and research tasks. The module is assessed formatively through presentations in class, and summatively through an academic essay, and the performance of an extract from a Barker play.

      Core materials are provided through Study Space and the LRC. This module provides students with an independent and in-depth practical and critical engagement with the origins, development and significance of different forms of tragic theatre.

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    • This challenging and interesting special study module aims to provide you with the opportunity to engage with different examples of popular fiction such as crime fiction, romance, the thriller, and science fiction. It will enable you to identify the standard practices of popular genres and understand why they succeed or fail in particular texts. It will encourage you in the critical study of narrative techniques to best learn how to apply them in a work of popular fiction. You will experiment in writing crime, SF, thriller and romance stories before choosing one or two of these genres to take through to your final submission. All this will be put into the context of more general and transferable lessons to be learnt in the art of compelling storytelling.

      For each genre studied you will read two core novels, plus a more general theoretical text on narrative construction. The module is lead by a writer of four published crime/thrillers.

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    • This is a year-long optional module in the Creative Writing field. It allows an advanced, detailed, and extensive study of forms of dramatic writing (stage, screen, and radio) giving students a sophisticated understanding of its developments, codes and contexts, and allowing them to engage with this genre from the perspectives of both theory and their own writing practice.  Starting with the study the work of contemporary playwrights such as Martin Crimp, Lucy Kirkwood, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Caryl Churchill, we will examine how such writers who were produced by the main new writing houses (Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Royal National Theatre) have responded to significant social events and phenomena through the genre of drama.  Our approach will be both theoretical and practical and we will use the techniques acquired from this study and apply them to an exploration of other dramatic forms such as film, television and radio.  Conceptual analysis is reinforced by practical work designed to enable students not only to understand the conventions of their chosen genre but also to apply them creatively to their own writing. The module may suit students wishing to devote extensive consideration to developing their expertise in writing for the stage, radio, film and television, and produce a sustained body of work within its conventions. This special study will be taught in small groups by members of staff who have extensive experience of writing drama across a range of forms.

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    • Applied Theatre is a placement-learning module, which investigates the process of making drama and theatre in communities and non-traditional performance spaces, both practically and critically.

      The main emphasis of the module is on developing the practical skills and contextual understanding needed to facilitate theatre processes and/or performances in partnership with a local community group or organisation. The main feature of the module in Semester One is a structured experimentation with a range of applied theatre techniques, which are read against important critical questions. This part of the module is taught through seminars and practical workshops, exploring case studies, key concepts and techniques, critical questions, ethics, aesthetics, and project design. In Semester Two, the main feature of the module is the delivery of a practical drama, theatre or performance project, of a significant scale, and taking place in partnership with a chosen constituency within the local community. This part of the module is made up of independent, student-led research and practice. The student project is supervised practically through placement visits by Drama staff, ongoing creative laboratories, as well as by the submission of research, project design and planning materials. The module is assessed formatively through presentations in class of practice and research, and summatively through the delivery of the placement project, reflective writing, and, where necessary, an end of project viva.

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    • This year-long module focuses on the study and creative practice of (auto)biography and memoir, some of the most interesting and thriving literary genres. It is aimed at those students tempted by the idea of writing about their own and others' lives, wishing to read a variety of life stories and examine the many different ways in which a life story can become a book. We will explore exciting examples of autobiographical writing, looking at the highly literary and the popular bestsellers alike. Authors will range from Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein to Tracey Emin and Cheryl Cole, or another of your favourite – or most irritating -- celebrities and his or her ghost writer.  We will sample, and experiment in, some of the many subgenres of life writing, which include childhood narratives, investigations of family secrets, testimony, graphic memoir, illness memoir, stories of trauma and abuse, war memoir, celebrity autobiography, and many others. Conceptual analysis will be reinforced by practical work designed to enable you to understand the issues in relation to your own creative life writing project.

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You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

*Subject to validation

We have robust internal approval procedures to ensure that our programmes of study are of the highest quality and will offer our students the best academic experience.  Our approval process is called validation.  Where a course is described as 'subject to validation' this means that the course is in development and the details are in the process of being finalised by the University. Whilst courses on our website with the status of 'subject  to validation' are approved by Kingston University, validation is not guaranteed. Should the course not go ahead you will be informed by the University and assistance will be provided to those who have been offered a place to find a suitable alternative course either at Kingston University or another provider.

Please note that students who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK will not be issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for courses that have a Subject to Validation status.

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Contact us

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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