Directing & Devising Diploma Course (ATCL)


Looking to become a Professional Director or Theatre Maker? Want to Work with the Traverse Theatre Directors, Award Winning Theatre Companies and Leading Expert Coaches?


A brief overview of the Directing & Devising Diploma Course by Acting Out Drama School Director, Clare Cairns

Check out what previous students have thought about the course!

Learn all about the Directing & Devising Diploma (ATCL) Course from the point of view a former student, Calum Moore as he talks about his exciting, informative and successful journey with Acting Out Drama School!


Acting Out Drama School's Part-Time Directing & Devising Diploma HND Unit Equivalent with Trinity College London trains students in directing, creating and devising theatre while preparing them for the professional world. 

Train with award winning Directors, Coaches and Theatre Companies. Previous Directors include Founder and Director of Acting Out, Clare Cairns, Artist Director of the Traverse Theatre, Orla O'Loughlin, Former Associate Director of Traverse Theatre, John Mitchell, Award Winning Theatre Maker, Philippos Philippou, Renowned Physical Theatre Director, Lewis Sherlock and Acting Out’s Ensemble and Film & TV Director, Marion Geoffray.


You will have a minimum of 9 residential days plus approx. 4 hours per week home-study.

Gain experience and build your networking skills while working towards an ATCL Performing Arts Diploma (Foundation Degree, England & equivalent to HND qualifications in Scotland).


Directing & Devising Diploma HND ATCL


You will also explore other Theatre Art Forms, including acting and writing.

You will have at least 9 full day lessons throughout the year by expert coaches, directors and practitioners.

Practical lectures and advice in the directing business are also included so you are kept up-to-date with current industry requirements and practice.

You will also have direct contact with all your coaches and directors throughout a 12 month period.

As Acting Out Drama School is connected to new writers and actors, you will also get the chance to work with some highly successful and award winning artists.

Acting Out Drama School

As well as the excellent training you would expect from an accredited Trinity College London and Acting Out Drama School Centre you will also receive:

  • An ATCL Performing Arts Qualification (a Foundation Degree in England, equivalent to an SQA HND unit)

  • Expert Training from Professional Directors and teachers in a minimum of 9 residential days covering a whole range of directing and devising theories, practitioners and performing-art subjects

  • The opportunity to Work with Award-Winning and Successful Professionals throughout the course

  • A Highly Informative Casting Observation Workshop with Casting Agents from Scotland and London

  • Opportunities for Assistant Directing Positions within Acting Out Drama School (and normally other Professional Theatre Companies)

  • Work with and Discuss the Industry with a Successful Director and Theatre / Film Maker from L.A.

  • A face-to-face Q & A Session with casting agents from Scotland and London

  • A Specialised Shakespearean workshop with an experienced Shakespearean Actor and/or Director.

  • A Full day or night with a Professional Theatre company during a production to observe a professional show in a famous theatre.

  • Q & A session with a professional director, following the theatre company visit

  • A Specialised Stage Combat workshop for directors from a Successful Actor, Director and Stunt Co-ordinator (normally from L.A).

  • A Presentation workshop on how to gain professional directing work today

  • The opportunity to meet the team from Equity and Learn about Professional Contracts, Networking & More

  • A discussion and meeting with a Professional Accountant to help start you off as a Self-Employed Theatre Maker

  • Equity Membership (payable to Equity)

  • Professional CV

  • Excellent Facilities in the centre of town

  • An NUS Student Card (payable to NUS)

  • Opportunities for Professional Head-shots with Award Winning and Agency Approved Photographers from London and Edinburgh  

  • Opportunities for Spotlight Membership

Acting Out Nov 2016 by Jon Davy


During your residential days of the Directing & Devising Diploma HND Unit Equivalent, your face-to-face lessons will take place in the heart of Edinburgh at the Augustine Centre, George IV Bridge (opposite the cafe where J.K.Rowling wrote Harry Potter)! Near to shops, cafes, train stations and buses, it’s a great place to study.


augustine church pic.jpg


The facilities are excellent with a large hall space, a newly refurbished theatre and smaller classrooms/breakout rooms. 

Your full day sessions will run from approx. 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. 

You are also expected to do around 4-6 hours private study a week, preparing you for each session and a follow up assignment after each session. You must pass your assignments and exam to complete the course. Extra morning/afternoon sessions may be added for Professional Visits and/or extra Tuition. Some weeks will be busier than others.


Acting Out Nov 2017 by Jon Davy


You are also encouraged and able to enrol onto our vocational performing courses, such our Intermediate Acting Course and Advanced Acting Course where you will be apart of a performance in a professional theatre (agents are invited).





Your practical exam is an ATCL Performing Qualification in Performing Arts (a Foundation Degree in England, equivalent to an SQA HND unit). You will be assessed, graded and awarded your qualification by Trinity College London. Your examination day will be held in the Acting Out Exam Centre in Edinburgh.




The residential dates for 2020-2021 year are as follows:

Saturday 17th October 2020

Saturday 24th October 2020

Saturday 21st November 2020

Saturday 23rd January 2021

Saturday 27th February 2021

Saturday 3rd April 2021

Saturday 1st May 2021

Saturday 22nd May 2021

The 2020-2021 Exam is likely to be on one of these dates:
between 1st - 5th June 2021


The Equity Visit and Directing Business Day is likely to be in July on a Wednesday.

Your Observation Theatre Day can be any time during the academic year and depends on the Theatre Company and touring dates. In the past, students have been involved with Ludens Ensemble (Traverse Theatre), Platform Company (Traverse Theatre), apart of the Chrysalis Festival (Traverse Theatre) and in house working with our elite Actors and Directors at Acting Out.


* We may add more residential days, online sessions and voice tutorials depending on the requirements of the course. 

* All dates/changes/extra sessions are at Acting Out Drama School’s discretion.

* We can only put candidates forward for the TCL exam who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the course. These are students who complete all homework tasks, assignments and have an excellent attendance record.

* While we will endeavour to run things to the above schedule, sometimes dates, companies or arrangements may change



Acting Out Drama School is a Private Drama School, accredited by Trinity College London and offering students professional and vocational courses in acting.

The Diploma Acting Course fees include the standard college tuition fee, professional expertise, small class sizes, excellent facilities, preparation for working in the industry, sound business advice, Equity Membership plus opportunities for professional head shots, CV and Spotlight Membership. 

The full fee is only £1595.

On acceptance of a place, full payment is due or your choice of suitable instalment plan. Paying in one lump sum works out cheaper. For last minute applications full payment may be due before the start of the course.


Once you have applied you will be sent an automatic email with further details that we need from you.

These details include your experience so far (if any) and a quick test!

We will be looking for clear evidence of the abilities required for the course, evidence of practical and intellectual skills necessary for the nature of this course, and personal qualities that would contribute to the class and the school.

Decisions for application outcomes are normally made at the end of each month.

There is a small application fee of £10.00.




Is there funding for this course?

Most students pay for the course themselves as the cost is very small compared to higher educational qualifications. In the past, students who don't have the full payment upfront have paid for courses in instalments or made the most of student banking services such as the free student overdrafts or soft student loans (including career development loans). You can also contact your Local Education Authority or Charitable Trusts who help finance Performing Art Students. Check out your local library for more information. 

Will the SAAS pay for my fee?

Again, most students pay for the course themselves as the tuition fee is low. To build your connections to London (the place to be for actors and directors) Acting Out have chosen to work with Trinity College London for your certified qualification. Therefore as your qualification is an English qualification, the SAAS may not cover your tuition fee. You may still be entitled to a student loan. Check the question above about how students have paid in the past. 


I may need special assistance, is that possible?

Yes. Your coaches will be on hand to assist you if you need extra time, additional help, or more guidance. For the exam, as long as you can prove in writing that you are entitled to extra time, you should be able to secure it.


Exactly how is the course structured?

The course is made up of around 25-30 learning outcomes over the year. You have approx. 9 sessions of face-to-face days (as well as some online tutorials depending on the course and students). These cover a variety of different directing, devising, writing and performing art training techniques. There are also other days and opportunities added. 

Your main sessions are conducted by expert directors, coaches and theatre makers from all over the world who you will be in contact with throughout the course (and after too, there is no time limit as all the coaches love their job and are happy to help if they can).

There are approx. 10 assignments and pieces of homework to submit as well as many more to practice and explore in your own time. You must pass all the assignments to complete the course. Full details on all your learning outcomes and assignments will be given prior to starting your course.

There are additional benefits we include such as an Equity Membership (so you can start working and building networks straight away), business training days, including how to be pro-active and get work, meeting and working with Management Agencies, our recommended contacts for you in the industry, Q and A session with a professional actor, director or theatre maker, as well as a visit behind the scenes in a professional theatre company.

You also have opportunities for professional headshots and Spotlight Membership (depending also on your experience thus far). 


What if I miss a session?

If you miss sessions due to illness or a prior commitment, we do everything we can to ensure you don’t fall behind. There is lots of contact between students and
coaches. It’s normal for coaches to send a breakdown of what was covered after each session as well as help students with assignments if they need it. So missing one or two sessions due to sickness is okay, as long as you can put the work back into your
course in your own time. 

After I apply and send away the details requested in the automatic email, when do I find out if I’m successful or not?

After we receive your email detailing what we have asked for, decisions are normally made and sent to you at the end of each month.

Do I get an Equity Membership on completion of this Course?

Yes, this course has been vetted and approved by Equity. All students who pass the course and are present on the business day in July, not only meet Equity and gain a huge amount of knowledge about the professional industry and how to start your professional journey, but you will also be offered full Equity Membership. If you miss the business day, you can still gain Equity Membership. You will be given all the details you need at the right time.

How do I get my Spotlight Membership?

On the Business Day you will meet and work with a number of organisations including Casting Directors, Management Agencies, Professional Actors, Directors and Equity. One the biggest topics we cover on this day is Spotlight and how to get your membership. By attending this course, you will gain a professional qualification which you can use towards your Spotlight credits in conjunction with any credits you gain from other professional work.

If you do not have professional work yet, we would recommend you apply and try to gain a place on our Assistant Directing Positions that we offer all our Directing students throughout the year. This is so you can gain professional experience while you are training, making it easier to apply for your spotlight membership on graduation.

If you still don’t have professional experience by the time you graduate, don’t worry. This is where your Equity Membership comes in. Your Equity Membership is guaranteed on this course and will ensure your future experience is professionally contracted. You will also work with casting agents and meet industry professionals throughout your course, so you could also gain professional experience simply by networking.

If you follow the advice we, casting directors and management agencies give you on the Business Day regarding Spotlight, you will have a very good chance of being accepted and gaining that membership. Despite this being a part-time course, most of our students do go on and gain their Spotlight Membership.

Overall, you are in good hands!

Do I need a Visa?

If you are not from the UK, you don’t need a visa to enrol onto any of our courses (providing you are legally allowed to stay in the UK or are traveling in and out of the UK for your residential day each month). We have lots of foreign students and you would be very welcome to join us.

Will this course allow me entry onto the second year of a directing / performing arts degree?

It all depends on how strong your application is when you graduate. Students have been very successful previously when wanting to gain further education or professional work. The course is a great place to start your education and your professional journey. This is a diploma course (which is the English equivalent of a foundation degree) but it’s not the first at uni (as it would need to be full time). Even so, many of our students are offered places on the second year of degree courses, and above. Around 30% of our students are offered MA places (Year 5, thus skipping 3-4 academic years). Overall, anything is possible and the harder you work within this course, the better your chances of academic success in the future.


How do I apply?

Just click below. There is a small application and audition fee of £10. Once you have applied, you’ll get an automatic email with further details.