The BTEC Course

Circomedia offers students aged 16-18 the chance to study on the BTEC extended diploma in Performing Arts Practice. If you are older than 18 you might be interested in one of our other courses here.

A BTEC is a Level 3 qualification that follows on from GCSE. The course features the same academic rigour as A Levels whilst also focusing on more practical learning.

The course gives young people from the age of 16 the chance to learn a range of circus disciplines (aerial, juggling, acrobatics and balance) alongside classes in physical theatre, movement, and devising. Underpinning this practical skill development is a rigorous programme of academic study in which learners will investigate theatre practitioners, plan a community project and explore various employment opportunities within the arts industry.

Open Days

Our next digital BTEC Open Day will be in January 22nd 2022. Please email us at to book your place now!

“There’s something for everyone here. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done circus before because whatever you do you’ll be supported to explore your creativity.”

– Natasha, BTEC graduate now studying at Codarts

How To Apply

Applications for the course are made directly on our website here.

Get to know the BTEC

Hopefully, the following information will answer most of your questions about studying on the BTEC with us. However, if you have any more questions, please drop us an email at

What will you study?

You’ll have the opportunity to study a range of circus disciplines, including juggling, balance, aerial and acrobatics. You’ll learn about physical theatre, movement and performance techniques, as well as developing your knowledge of influential practitioners and the business skills vital to working within the performing arts industry. The course is very physically intensive and you will need a good level of fitness. Your learning is underpinned by academic study and assessments will be both practical and written.

Documentary by BTEC Graduate Tove Tozer.

What do you need?

You need to be aged 16+ to apply for the course. We recommend that applicants have four GCSE passes at grades A* – C (or 9 – 4 in the new 2017 grading structure) however it isn’t essential. If you are aged 16 – 18 you must have a GCSE in English and Maths (please see below).

You don’t need to have any previous circus experience, but you will need to demonstrate some ability in a physical or performance related discipline such as dance, drama, gymnastics, parkour or martial arts. Applicants will need a good level of fitness as this is a very practical course!

Applicants aged between 16 and 18 will have their course fees funded by the government (providing you have English and Maths GCSE). Adult funding (19+) has unfortunately not been granted by the funding agency for our new course specification. This means if you are aged 19 or over then you will have to pay privately. Alternatively you could consider the Foundation Degree course.

We can accept applications from international students within the EU and EEA however we are unable to take anyone requiring a visa to study.

If you do not meet the funding requirements then we can accept private payment. The course costs £3,750 per year. Please note that private students will still be enrolled on the BTEC qualification and are expected to fully engage in all aspects of the course.

What about English and Maths?

To be eligible for government funding it is a requirement to have GCSE English and Maths at grade 4 or grade C or above. If you are a European student with qualifications equivalent to GCSEs then you may be eligible for a funded place providing your qualifications are confirmed by NARIC.

Technical Requirements

All students need to have a basic level of IT Literacy; using Word or Docs to create, edit and save written work, other software such as Microsoft Teams for organisation and Microsoft Outlook for emails.

All students will need to complete work independently and so will need access to their own IT equipment (not a mobile phone) to complete written assignments.

For students enrolled through City of Bristol College you will be able to access a Microsoft Office Account for free which will enable you to use Word, Teams and other software. For students who are paying privately you will need to have access to the Microsoft Office Package including Microsoft Teams and to separate email account which can be used for Circomedia communication.

What do you get?

A Level 3 BTEC Foundation Diploma is the equivalent of one and a half A-levels. If you successfully complete the first year, you may be able to stay on for an additional year and achieve a full Extended Diploma worth three A-levels. Both the Diploma and Extended Diploma carry UCAS points with which you can apply to university.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues at Circomedia for providing a fantastic course and such a supportive environment. He described his BTEC as the best year of his life so far.”

– Tina, parent of BTEC graduate

Where will it take you?

Many of our BTEC graduates progress to study on Circomedia’s own Foundation Degree course, while others have gone to develop their skills at schools across Europe including Codarts, DOCH and CNAC. BTEC students have also gone on to join professional companies, set up their own, or taken their careers in a whole other direction. You can find out more by reading about our alumni.

BTEC graduate Helena Humm left Circomedia in June 2018 and is now studying at CNAC in France. Below you can watch ‘Fidget‘, her piece from 2018’s end of year show entitled ‘In Focus‘.

Where will you train?

Most days you’ll have the chance to train in the historic St Pauls Church in central Bristol, while once a week you’ll train at our campus in Kingswood, also home to the Degree students. Circomedia provides supervised practice sessions outside of college hours so you can really hone your skills.

You’ll have the opportunity to perform at St Pauls Church for our twice-annual BTEC shows – giving you a real taste of what it’s like to be a professional circus performer.

Term Dates

Term dates for the BTEC 2021-2022 will be as follows:

Induction week: week commencing Monday 13th Sept 2021
Autumn Term: Monday 20th September – Thursday 9th December
Half Term: week commencing Monday 25th October

Xmas Break: Friday 10th December – Sunday 2nd January

Spring Term: Tuesday 4th January – Friday 8th April 2022
Half Term: week commencing Monday 21st February

Easter Break: Monday 11th April – Friday 22nd April

Summer Term: Monday 25th April – Thursday 23rd June (Yr 2 finish Friday 17th June)
Half Term: week commencing Monday 30th May

Any questions? Take a look at our FAQs or email

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