An academic difference: value of London Met Theatre and Performance degrees highlighted by the Stage

A new report looks at how London Met's theatre and performance courses create future leaders, and the value that theatre degrees can offer students over traditional drama schools.

Date: 29 March 2021

London Met’s theatre courses, which last year were named number one in the country for student satisfaction, feature in a new report from the Stage exploring the additional value that academic theatre degrees can offer students over traditional drama schools. 

London Met’s own courses are highly practical and led by experienced practitioners, including course lead for Theatre and Performance BA Rishi Trikha, who spoke to the Stage’s Lyn Gardner. 

He explained how performance degrees open up the world of drama careers to their students, saying: "Almost everyone arrives saying they want to be an actor. We start to interrogate that with them, and by the time they get to the end of the second year, many will be rethinking and saying they want to be a costume designer or a director. We have an agility within the programme to cater to their developing interests."  London Met students receive considerable training in acting but also learn many other skills.

In addition, he believes that being part of a bigger institution, with other students studying different and non-related theatre courses, can be an advantage and broaden minds. "Having worked in a conservatoire, I have seen how the culture in a specialist academy can become a bubble. You don’t get that in a university, where every student is part of something bigger."

Gardner noted that the offer from drama schools and universities has traditionally been very different, but that this is moving closer together, with the former’s increased emphasis on academic criticism; and the latter’s on performance and practical skills. 

"At London Met, we’ve always seen ourselves as trying to create leaders, whereas what drama schools have done traditionally is create employees," says Trikha. "If drama schools are going to create leaders too, that is only a good thing for the industry. It’s what we’ve always been trying to do here. We’re not just replicating industry norms or accepting that the industry operates in certain ways and that students have to toughen up to deal with that. We see them as change-makers, and we encourage them to feel confident enough to demand decency and dignity and push for change."

In the latest two student satisfaction surveys (NSS 2019 and 2020), London Met received 100% satisfaction for teaching on the course, the highest in the country.

Read the report in full: An Academic Difference - what do unis offer that drama schools can't? (PDF)