College of Arts
School of Fine & Performing Arts
Project Lead
Siobhan O’ Gorman
Project team members
Michael Hoyle
Bryony May Kummer-Seddon
Maeve O’Dwyer
Project start date
3rd September, 2018
Project end date
20th May, 2019

Teaching & Learning Innovation

Diverse teaching modes for Scenography and Design students

In January 2019, Siobhan O’ Gorman (BA Drama/Theatre) led the first iteration of a new level two, semester B module, Scenography and Design. The challenge was to achieve a balance between research-led teaching that promoted knowledge of historical and contemporary practice whilst introducing students to different modes of industry-facing material and digital design. It was also important to ensure that, through the curriculum, the university’s ‘internationalising the curriculum’ was addressed.

Schedules were arranged so that each of the key aspects of scenography was covered through a range of practical workshops with practical tutors (Michael Hoyle and PhD student Bryony May Kummer-Seddon) and discursive seminars. It was expected that getting students engaged in scenographic histories, theories and praxis would be challenging. To address this, O’Gorman set a vacation task and arranged a guest lecture with art historian Dr Maeve O’Dwyer during feedback week. These additions gave students the opportuntity to ‘hit the ground running’ in terms of interpreting audiovisual cultures and thinking scenographically.

In seminars, students then encountered a range of aspects of the international field through active learning opportunities such as quizzes, group research activities (including in-class ones using Padlet) and formative tasks that mirrored the final assessments (mini-presentations and mini-portfolios). The latter allowed students to try out ideas and receive formative feedback in advance of their assessment which, according to module evaluations, they largely appreciated. Students were encouraged to focus on different international practices and practicioners for in-class presentations which allowed all in attendance to engage with a wide range of material and to learn from each other. Some comments on the module were:

 ‘I am enjoying the collaborative workshops – especially lighting! The seminar discussions are quite an active part of the module. Presentations are working really well for assessment prep.’

‘It’s my first time studying theatre design and I have already learnt loads.’

‘All the readings are useful and help guide my understanding; seminars and workshops informative; mini-tasks (i.e. portfolios and presentations) give us a chance to practice and experiment.’

Padlet was used by students to share the findings of group research tasks on different scenographers anonymously, live in class. 

Students engaged in active learning throughout the module, creating drawings for costume-led performances and making presentations.

Scenography and Design students experiment with props and masks on a trip to the National Theatre, London, in March 2019.


Students created detailed scenography model ‘boxes’