Modules - Foundation Degree - 1st Year


During the first year of the Foundation Degree in Circus Arts students can expect to spend an important amount of their autumn term being inducted into the workings of the National Centre for Circus Arts, preparing for their time as a student here and getting to know their year group. Students will gradually be inducted into the use of spaces and equipment, and will access these resources when the staff are sure that they are safe and secure in their use.

Throughout the year students undertake intensive physical classes in a range of circus-related activities, as well as sessions in performance, movement, and contextual studies which allow them to gain an understanding of circus in a wider performance context.

The Specialisation Process

Specialisation happens over the course of the autumn term as part of module CA110 – Specialisation Assessments. It is a collaborative process between the student and staff, leading to a decision about which circus discipline is suited both physically and creatively to that person.

Big Space discipline options will be invite only. Discipline choices will be based on:

  • Availability of teachers
  • Space restrictions
  • Ability

Our goal is to help the circus performer to establish the foundation for a long and fruitful career. We aim for all students in this first year to have completed this process by the end of the spring term.

The National Centre offers the following disciplines:

Aerial Disciplines

  • Single point trapeze
  • Static trapeze
  • Doubles trapeze
  • Hoop
  • Rope
  • Silks
  • Straps
  • Multi cord (Basic level of rope and silks required)
  • Net/loop (Basic level of rope and silks required)
  • Aerial pole (Basic level of Chinese pole required)
  • Cradle

Acrobatic Disciplines

  • Hand to hand
  • Chinese pole
  • Acro dance
  • Hand balancing
  • Banquine

Juggling and Manipulation

  • Ball, club and ring juggling
  • Hula hoop
  • Hats, cigar boxes, ball spinning and 'gentleman juggling'

Big Space*

  • Cyr wheel
  • Teeterboard
  • Trick bike
  • Tightwire
  • Slack rope

*Invite only – due to varying factors students will only be assessed in these disciplines by invitation only during the specialisation module

In the final term we create a timetable that prepares students for continued development in the second year of the Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.

The year comprises six core modules:


Preparing for Circus (60 Credits)

Term: Autumn, Spring and Summer

This module focuses on essential aspects of your training. It will be the core physical activity of your first year, moving from general circus skills through to the development of the basic and fundamental technical skills appropriate for your future development in your chosen specialist discipline. Students are assessed on their technical progress and understanding, as well as the early stages of developing their professional practice. The module also introduces students to movement and performance work in the first term.


Introduction to Ensemble (15 Credits) 

Term: Spring

This module introduces students to the specific creative and technical demands of creating an ensemble performance. Students are assessed on their engagement with the devising and rehearsal process.


Movement (10 Credits) 

Term: Spring and Summer

This module aims to develop foundational elements of physical performance. Sessions will encompass a range of techniques and explore approaches to improvisation, and students will be assessed on the quality of their movement work, as well as a reflective essay.


Play and Performance (10 Credits) 

Term: Spring and Summer

This module allows students to engage with the essential conventions and techniques involved in different forms of performance. Sessions will involve continuous exercises and presentations, and students will be assessed on the quality of their work in these sessions.


Performance in Theory and Practice (15 Credits) 

Term: Spring and Summer

This module explores the theoretical and practical application of historically significant performance practices to contemporary circus. Students are assessed through performance work and an essay submission.


Specialisation Assessments (10 Credits)

Term: Autumn and Spring

This module provides students with the opportunity to research and experience a various range of appropriate circus disciplines. At the end of the module, students will have gained insight and knowledge that will allow them to make a more informed and positive choice of their area of circus specialisation.

Students will work in strict collaboration with the teaching staff to choose the most appropriate specialist discipline and will create journals documenting this process. Big space discipline options will be invitation only and all disciplines will be chosen based on availability of teachers, space restrictions and ability.

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