Foundation Degree in Circus Arts

Challenge perceptions of what circus is and explore multiple ways of approaching creative work. As well as building on what you know, develop a curiosity to bring to all areas of your practice.

Course overview

The Foundation Degree in Circus Arts is a two-year course which aims to develop a broad range of the skills required as a professional circus artist.

The Foundation Degree is intense in order to sustain technical and creative progression, with an equal focus on artistic creativity and collaboration. The focus is on the continuous assessment of each student’s individual progress, as well as performance related assessment both as an individual and as part of an ensemble. Students’ analytical and critical skills are also assessed through research presentations, essays and other assignment projects.

The degree is delivered at the National Centre for Circus Arts and is awarded by the University of Kent. Students must complete and pass all modules in both years of the course in order to obtain the qualification, and progress on the BA (Hons) Degree. Entry on to the BA (Hons) is at the discretion of the Higher Education delivery team.

  • Award

    Foundation Degree in Circus Arts


    We do not go through UCAS. Applicants need to apply directly through the school


    National Centre for Circus Arts – London


    University of Kent


    2 years (full-time), 35 hours a week, 33 weeks in the year


    September – July

Module map

Each module is worth a specified number of credits: enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests. You must take modules worth a total of 120 credits at each level of the course.

Our teaching is informed by research, and active performers and directors who are already working in the professional industry. Modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline.

You can always find the most up-to-date information about your modules and who is teaching them on Teams, our virtual Learning Environment (VLE), when you have registered onto the course.

As part of our Quality Assurance Processes, this course undergoes a periodic review. There have been some amendments to the modules in the 1st year of the Foundation Degree that will be implemented in 23/24 and some further amendments to all courses which will be implemented in 24/25.

Please see Module Specifications below for further information about each module. You can see the course summary by clicking HERE.

Foundation Degree Year 1 (Level 4)

During the first year of the Foundation Degree in Circus Arts students can expect to spend an important amount of the autumn term being inducted into the workings of the National Centre for Circus Arts, preparing 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 we are sure that they are safe and secure in their use. Throughout the year they will undertake intensive physical classes in a range of circus-related activities, as well as sessions in performance, movement and contextual studies, which allow students 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 NCA101 – Circus Discipline. 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. Please see below list of disciplines that the National Centre offers:

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)

Acrobatic Disciplines

  • Hand to Hand
  • Chinese Pole
  • Acro Dance
  • Hand Balancing
  • Banquine

Juggling and Manipulation

  • Ball, Club & Ring Juggling
  • Hula Hoop
  • Hats, cigar boxes, ball spinning and “Gentleman juggling”

Big Space*

  • CYR Wheel
  • Teeter Board
  • Tight Wire
  • Slack Rope

*Invite Only – due to varying factors students will only be assessed in these disciplines by invitation only.

In the final term we create a timetable that prepares students for continued development in the 2nd Year of the Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.

Foundation Degree Year 2 (Level 5)

The second year of the course is devoted to the development of a student’s technical abilities in their circus discipline and other technical skills as well as increasing their understanding of creating, devising and performance contexts. Students will have a tailor made timetable that is specifically designed to support them in the development of their circus discipline, as well as scheduled independent learning sessions to allow students to work towards becoming an autonomous learner.

A typical week during year two will include classes in your specific discipline, other physical complementary classes, acrobatics, performance, movement and contextual studies, as well as time for research and independent practice.

Attend an open day

Experience what it is to be a National Centre for Circus Arts student

Open Day

Download the prospectus

More information, with all your degree questions answered

Download our prospectus

Entry Requirements

  • Applicants must be 18 or over on entry.
  • Applicants will be able to demonstrate their intent to pursue professional employment in circus arts.
  • Applicants will be required to demonstrate a proficiency in both written and verbal English language. For the Foundation Degree in Circus Arts this would normally be GCSE English or equivalent International English Language Testing System. Overseas students may be required to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) prior to entry in order to meet VISA requirements.
  • Applicants must fulfil parts 1 and 2 of the admissions process. If the applicant is from outside the UK or they are unable to attend an audition day they may request to submit a full video audition (instead of attending part 2).
  • There are further entry requirements for BA (Hons) applicants. Please check our BA course page for more information.


Applications for our Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) Degree courses are now closed for 24/25.

*The Courses at NCCA are validated by the University of Kent. We periodically review and enhance them to ensure we are delivering high quality degree courses to our students. The next review is scheduled during the 23/24 Academic Year and any developments or changes to the course will be implemented in the 24/25 Academic year. We will inform all applicants about changes to the course when applicable but for now the course summary document available on the website here is the course you will be applying for. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact Stevie Taylor ( or Joanna Young (


Admissions process

The admissions process is made up of two parts.

Part 1: Apply and submit video

1. Apply directly through our website. Applications will open again in October for 2025 entry.
2. Submit your video link within the application. See part 1 video guidance and criteria
3. Once we have received your application form and video, we will invite you to part 2 (a one-day audition*) so long as you meet the entry requirements above.

*Or a full video audition depending on circumstances.

Part 2: Attend an in-person audition or submit full video

Part 2 Auditions will be held in April at the National Centre for Circus Arts building, London. Find out more about in-person and full video auditions.


How to find us

Shoreditch Electric Light Station, home of the National Centre for Circus Arts, is based in the heart of Shoreditch.

Old Street Underground Station (Northern Line) is 4 mins away and just two stops from St. Pancras International Rail Station. The London Overground network is close by as well as numerous bus routes making Shoreditch Electric Light Station easily accessible from all areas of London.

Further information

Attend an open day

Experience what it is to be a National Centre for Circus Arts student

Attend an open day