The BTEC Course

Circomedia offers students aged 16-18 the chance to study on the UK’s only two-year Extended Diploma in Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre. 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 BTEC Degree Digtial Open Day is on Saturday 6th December and you can signup now by emailing us at This will be the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you have in our live student and teacher Q&A. Watch a live student performance and find our more about what makes our course unique.

There are limited spaces available so please book your place now to avoid disapointment.


“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.

Please note BTEC applications have reopened for a limited time on a rolling basis.

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.

Term dates

Induction Week: Mon 14th September – Fri 18th September 2020

Term 1 A: Mon 21st Sept – Fri 23rd Oct 2020 (5 weeks)

Term 1 B: Mon 2nd Nov – Fri 4th Dec 2020 (5 weeks)

Term 2 A: Mon 4th Jan – Fri 5th Feb 2021 (5 weeks)

Term 2 B: Mon 22nd Feb – Fri 2 April2021 (6 weeks)

Term 3 A: Mon 19th April – Fri 21nd May 2021 (5 weeks)

Term 3 B: Mon 31 May– Tue 22nd June 2021 (3 weeks)

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.

Students paying privately are not required to have any GCSEs providing they can evidence the ability to study at Level 3.

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.

Any questions? Take a look at our FAQs or email

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