Actor Musician BA (Hons) – 2017 entry

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

What you'll study

This new GSA degree will develop your skills as an actor ­musician, enabling you to take advantage of the ever-­growing demand for versatile professional performers who can combine superb acting ability with a high standard of musicianship.

Programme overview

The BA (Hons) Actor Musician degree has been created to sit alongside Guildford School of Acting's (GSA) internationally recognised programmes in Musical Theatre and Acting.

For many years these programmes have been at the forefront of delivering top-quality actors and performers to the industry.

As with all GSA degrees, the focus is on developing the versatility to work professionally, in this case as an actor or actor­ musician, in a wider range of theatrical contexts.

Over the course of your studies you will explore and develop broad and specialised performance skills in acting, singing, musicianship and dance, alongside important critical and evaluative skills.

The result of the training is a highly disciplined, individual and versatile performer who has both artistic integrity and the ability to work in collaboration with others.

You will also benefit from GSA’s widely respected international reputation for training musical theatre practitioners, who have for many years fed the live and recorded entertainment industries with front-rank actors, performers and technicians.

This added GSA advantage will be invaluable as you build your performing career.

Programme structure

Year 1 (FHEQ Level 4)

The first year of study is split into two semesters each of 15 weeks' duration. The course explores the core techniques that you will need as an actor in a range of theatrical settings, from plays to musicals

Compulsory modules:

In vocal studies you will benefit from the high level of teaching for which GSA is internationally renowned. You will study small-group singing, where you will work on technique and the understanding of your voice, as well as ensemble singing, which brings together the group to develop skill and technique.

Alongside this, voice is taught, allowing the spoken voice to become free and responsive across a range of texts.

Context runs throughout the first year and here you will look at a range of different historical and academic approaches to theatre, embedding the skills that you will need in the third year as part of your research project.

Musicianship is a unique module to the Actor Musician course, in which you will work with musical directors and music lecturers to embed the skills of working and playing as an ensemble, arrangement and also specific study of your specialist area (for example woodwind, keyboard, brass, and so on).

Across the first year there are points given for extended tutorials for one-to-one teaching (generally six per semester) on your singing voice and your main instrument.

Year 2 (FHEQ Level 5)

The second year of study carries on developing and widening core technique skills in vocal studies and musicianship, again with an emphasis on you working together, playing together and singing together as an ensemble to develop the skills and professional qualities needed to work as an actor musician.

Context carries on throughout the second year, with repertoire introduced to extend your range of vocal songs and instrumental pieces to play.

Acting becomes a workshop series of rehearsals, where in the first semester you will look at three or four different texts (one by Shakespeare), where the skills of the actor musician are integrated into the work and a piece of theatre begins to take shape that utilises the skills of the ensemble.

In the second semester music theatre becomes the focus of the workshop again with texts studied with the intention of creating a vehicle for an ensemble of actor musicians.

Compulsory modules:

Year 3 (FHEQ Level 6)

The third year of study is mainly about performance. Three performance projects will run to a public audience the first a dramatic text, the second a piece of musical theatre and the third a piece of theatre created and devised by the cohort as their own work.

Throughout the year you will maintain skills with classes delivered by music lecturers, tutorials and dance workshops and the year culminates with a showcase at a West End venue.

You will also develop a research project, reflecting on and analysing the role of the actor musician and looking over your training as you enter the industry.

Compulsory modules:

Throughout the programme the emphasis is on your development as a performer and as an actor. The ethos of the course is to create an ensemble that is capable of taking any piece and working together to find new ways of exploring, interpreting and performing a piece of theatre.

Your skills when you leave the course will enable you to work as both an actor and an actor musician across a range of texts and performance contexts.

Professional recognition

Accredited by Drama UK.

Additional costs

There are associated costs with this programme:

  • Production expenses: £175-350 - Portfolio photos
  • Safety equipment and/or uniform: £240 approx. - Uniform including specialist footwear and boneprop
  • UK-based activity: £150 - Theatre trips (students should aim to see some live theatre throughout the course of their programme)

Grand total: £565-740 approx.


Auditions are held between November and May each year and early application is advised to guarantee audition availability. Further information can be found on the GSA website.

We try to make our auditions as enjoyable as possible. We are looking for potential and, if we see it, we would like you to feel convinced that GSA is the best place for your training.

The Actor Musician audition is split into two sections and takes place over the course of one day. In the morning, you will:

  • Present one song to the panel (no longer than three minutes in length)
  • Take part in an acting workshop for which you should prepare one classical monologue (in verse) around two minutes in length
  • Take part in a dance/movement workshop (for which you will need dancewear)

After lunch, the panel will be joined by music staff who will listen to one pre-­prepared piece on your chosen instrument. This piece should be no longer than three minutes in length and should reflect the kind of repertoire that you consider a strength.

After this a brief theory/sight­reading workshop will take place and you will be interviewed individually. You will need to prepare:

  • One musical theatre song (no longer than three minutes)
  • One classical speech (in Shakespearean or Jacobean verse, no longer than two minutes)
  • One solo instrumental piece

Please note that GSA does not provide instruments, so you will need to bring your own. There will be a secure area on the day for you to store your instrument.

We may be able to provide larger instruments (piano, percussion, and so on); ­please contact us after you receive your audition date to confirm that we can provide what you need. Please note that loose, ill­-fitting attire is not suitable for auditions.

Contact hours

  • 6 per cent personal tutorial/small group teaching
  • 30 per cent medium group teaching
  • 22 per cent large group teaching
  • 42 per cent studying and revising in your own time

Graduate prospects

Our graduates have an unrivalled employment record in West End shows and national tours. Our very distinguished alumni include performers such as:

  • Brenda Blethyn OBE
  • Oliver James
  • Bill Nighy
  • Owen Teale
  • Celia Imrie
  • Jonjo O’Neill
  • Kobner Holbrook-­Smith
  • Billy Carter
  • Ian Kelsey
  • Rob Kazinsky
  • Chris Geere
  • Claire Cooper
  • Justin Fletcher MBE

West End productions

  • Les Misérables, Queen’s Theatre
  • The Light Princess, The National
  • Spamalot, Playhouse Theatre
  • From Here to Eternity, Shaftesbury Avenue
  • Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales
  • Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre
  • The Commitments, Palace Theatre
  • Dirty Dancing, Piccadilly Theatre
  • Mamma Mia!, Novello Theatre
  • Matilda the Musical, Cambridge Theatre
  • Once, Phoenix Theatre
  • Stephen Ward, Aldwych Theatre
  • I Can’t Sing, London Palladium
  • Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre
  • Top Hat
  • Ghost
  • Hairspray
  • Shrek
  • Merrily We Roll Along
  • Color Purple
  • Sweeney Todd

UK tours and regional theatres

  • Shrek
  • Legally Blonde
  • Happy Days the Musical
  • Dreamboats and Petticoats ­
  • The Buddy Holly Story
  • West Side Story
  • Avenue Q
  • Cats
  • 9 to 5
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • The Lion King
  • Oliver!
  • Betty Blue Eyes
  • Evita

2017 Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?



We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking in our offers.

Access to HE Diploma

QAA recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma with 39 Level 3 Credits at Distinction and 6 Level 3 Credits at Merit - QAA recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma with 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 Credits at Merit.

BTEC (QCF Level 3) Extended Diploma


European Baccalaureate

75 per cent 74 per cent

International Baccalaureate

35 34 points

Scottish Highers

Scottish Advanced Highers AAB/Scottish Highers AAABB-Scottish Advanced Highers ABB/Scottish Highers AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma and A-level AA-Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma and A-level AB

Other international qualifications

If you are an international student and you don’t meet the entry requirements to this degree, we offer the International Foundation Year.

Select your country:

Required subjects

GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C/4 or above (or international equivalent).

The course does not require a specific grade standard. However, your playing and sight-reading ability should be of a high level and your understanding of harmony and music should be advanced – roughly equivalent to Grade 8 ABRSM and Grade 5 Theory.

Selection process

Offers are made in terms of grades and a successful audition (which will include acting, movement and singing/instrument workshops).

Applicants who can demonstrate exceptional talent, and can satisfy the panel of their ability to successfully complete the programme, may also be considered.

A non-refundable audition fee is usually charged. Further information can be found on the GSA website.

English language requirements

6.5 IELTS minimum overall

6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill

If you are an international student and you are concerned that your English is not to the required standard, you may benefit from the International Foundation Year, run by the Surrey International Study Centre.

Please note that the University of Surrey offers English language programmes and is also an IELTS Test Centre.

See 2018 entry information

Course Options

Qualification Course Length Professional Training UCAS code KIS code
BA (Hons) 3 years AD29 View KIS data set

Tuition fees

View a complete listing of all ongoing fees for our undergraduate programmes.

The University will assess your fee status. If you are unsure whether you are likely to be considered a home, EU or overseas student for fees purposes, the UKCISA website offers more information.

Additional costs

There are additional costs associated with this programme – view the additional costs section for full details.

Bursaries and scholarships

We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.

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International students

Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.

How to apply

Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.

More info


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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