The BTEC course

Full-time circus-theatre education for 16+ on a Level 3 BTEC

Circomedia offers students aged 16+ the chance to study on the UK’s only two-year Extended Diploma in Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre.

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.



“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


Our next Open Day is Saturday 2nd March 2019 at our Kingswood campus just a few miles from the city centre. At the open day you’ll have the opportunity to take part in skills workshops and meet our teachers and current students. There will be a presentation about the course, time for questions and student performances too! Places are limited so book soon to avoid disappointment – email with your name, age (so we know which academic year you’re interested in) and whether you will be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

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 Ben an email on

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.

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 as we do not wish to discriminate against young people who have been home schooled. 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. If you are 19 or over please look at our FAQ section to check your eligibility. We can accept applications from international students within the EU and EEA however we are unable to take anyone requiring a visa to study.

What about English and Maths?

Recent changes to our funding agreement mean that all applicants aged 16 – 18 must have a minimum of grade 4 or grade C in GCSE English and Maths. Without these qualifications your place on the course will not be funded by the government. 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.

If you’re aged 19 or over then you are not required to have GCSE English or Maths.

What do you get?

A BTEC Diploma is the equivalent of two A-levels. If you successfully complete the first year, you may be able to stay on for an additional year and achieve an Extended Diploma worth three A-levels.

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.

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 Kingswood site. You’ll also 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.



“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues at Circomedia for providing a fantastic course and such a supportive environment. The latter was important for Finn as it was his first time living away from home. He described his BTEC as the best year of his life so far.”

  – Tina, parent of BTEC graduate

Any questions? Take a look at our FAQs or email Ben at


Below is a video of BTEC graduate Helena Humm (2016-18) performing her piece Fidget, developed for the end of year show. Helena is now studying at CNAC in France.

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