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

Open Days

Our next Open Day is Saturday 29th February 2020 at our city centre campus in Portland Square. 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.

How To Apply

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

Deadline for applications is Friday 10th April 2020.

2019-20 Term Dates

Registration Day: Fri 13th September 2019

Induction Week: Mon 16th – Fri 20th September 2019

Term 1A: Mon 23rd Sept – Fri 25th Oct 2019

Term 1B: Mon 4th Nov – Fri 6th Dec 2019

Term 2A: Mon 6th Jan – Fri 7th Feb 2020

Term 2B: Mon 24th Feb – Fri 3rd Apr 2020

Term 3A: Mon 20th Apr – Fri 22nd May 2020

Term 3B: Mon 1st Jun – Tue 23rd June 2020

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. 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.

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?

Recent changes to funding rules mean that all applicants aged 16 – 18 musthave 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 Level 3 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 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.

Deadline for applications is Friday 10th April 2020.

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

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