MFA Stage Design (lighting design, set design and costume design)
1 year / 2 years
The MFA in Stage Design is a one-year programme with a practical focus for professionals looking to specialise in lighting, costume or set design. Applications for 2023 are now open. The closing date is June 30, 2023.Apply Now
Course InformationCourse Begins: Mon 18 Sep 2023
Duration: 1 year, 2 years
When: Full-time, Part-time
If you have any further questions, enquire and we'll contact you.
The Stage Design programme is purposely designed to allow students to either specialise on one area of stage design (set, costume or lighting design) or to combine disciplines as desired for example, set and costume design or set and lighting design.
The course is designed to complement the Master in Fine Art in Playwriting and the Master in Fine Art in Theatre Directing. Students on all three programmes will work together in collaboration, developing a shared understanding of contemporary theatre practice and a collective appreciation of the dedication and commitment required to make innovative performances happen.
In addition to the core classes and workshops, individual and group tuition from The Lir’s Head of Design will be a key feature of the training. In addition, master classes by visiting practitioners will supplement the student experience. Professional placements are a key feature of the programme and all students will showcase their work in public productions at the culmination of the course. Students can opt to take this course either part-time (24 months) or full-time (12 months).
Full-time and part-time students will take three concurrent modules in the first two terms. The final module (Production Design) will be taught in the third term and subsequent summer months (for full-time students) or in the second year of the course (for part-time students) and will culminate with a professional production staged in one of The Lir’s performance studios. Term Three will be supplemented by an ongoing series of master classes from professional directors and theatre makers.
Students on the Master in Fine Art (Stage Design) will take two compulsory modules and choose two of four elective modules.
On completion of this postgraduate degree, you will qualify and graduate from Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin.
Application is through the Trinity College Dublin postgraduate portal, you can see that here.
To request a course booklet, please send an email to email@example.com
Applications for Sept 2023 start are now open here
Initial deadline 31 March, early application advisable as places offered after that date. Final deadline 30 June.
Browse the 2023 prospectus here.
Image by Keith Dixon.
The Lir Academy continues to be guided by the HSE guidelines in relation to Covid-19. You can see more here.
Application Details click to
In addition to the information required on the online form, you are also required to upload a copy of each of the following:
a) A letter that outlines the applicant’s theatre education and highlights the applicant’s stage design experience to date.
b) A ‘statement of purpose’ that refers to the applicants ambitions in terms of stage design.
c) A résumé (CV)
d) A portfolio of your work
e) Two references/testimonials; one from those familiar with your work and one from third level education
It would be extremely helpful if you could name the files according to the following format: NameLastnameEducation, NameLastnamePersonalStatement, NameLastnameCV etc.
APPLICATION FORM FOR MFA STAGE DESIGN (BOTH FULL TIME AND PART TIME)Apply Now
Duration click to
Students can opt to take this course either part-time (24 months) or full-time (12 months).
Compulsory Modules: click to
Contemporary Theatre Practice
This compulsory module will introduce students to a range of contemporary theatre practices. It will focus on Irish and international artists and companies, with a particular emphasis on contemporary productions staged in the theatres of Dublin. The principal aim of the course is to enable students to become conversant in the styles, forms, theories and practices that constitute contemporary theatre making in Ireland and across the world. The Contemporary Theatre Practice module is shared by all Master in Fine Art students (directors, designers and playwrights).
The aim of this compulsory module is to enable students to apply the skills acquired in their elective design modules to the development of their individual creative voice and practice, and in the design of one the final MFA productions. This module will be taught in the third term and over the summer months through individual supervision of two placements as assistant to a professional designer, and in the realisation of a design for public viewing in one of The Lir studios.
Elective Modules: click to
Set Design Workshop
This module aims to develop the student’s set design skills through weekly workshops exploring a range of dramatic and post-dramatic texts from various historical periods, as well as nurturing technical competence in the realisation of the student’s own design. The module will be taught over two terms in a series of workshops led by a professional designer. It aims to nurture the student’s design skills through project based learning devised to develop the student’s creative practice. These workshops will introduce students to the processes of historical research as well as the technical skills in the realisation of a design, including drawing, model-making, computer assisted design (CAD), and communication with other theatre professionals in the production process. Students will present their own practice in weekly tutorials for discussion and critique. In addition students will maintain a weekly journal of reflective practice in which they will analyse their process. In addition students will maintain a weekly journal of reflective practice in which they will analyse their process.
Costume Design Workshop
Similar to the Set Design Workshop this module aims to develop the student’s costume design skills through weekly workshops exploring a range of dramatic and post-dramatic texts from various historical periods, as well as nurturing technical competence in the realisation of the student’s own design. This module will be taught over two terms in a series of workshops led by a professional designer. It aims to nurture the student’s design skills through workshops aimed at developing the student’s creative practice. Those workshops will introduce students to the processes of historical research as well as the technical skills in the realisation of a design, including wardrobe maintenance, and communication with other theatre professionals in the production process. Students will present their own practice in weekly workshops for discussion and critique. In addition students will maintain a weekly journal of reflective practice in which they will analyse their process.
Lighting Design Workshop
This module will be taught over two terms in a series of workshops by a professional lighting designer. It aims to nurture the student’s design skills through workshops aimed at developing the student’s creative practice. Those workshops will examine the nature of light and its qualities, together with the functions of stage lighting, the role of lighting in theatre, with particular emphasis on the engagement of a director with stage lighting. Students will explore the relationship between lighting design and other design elements, e.g. costume design, set design. The mechanics of stage lighting will be covered in detail to include the principles of electricity, optics, light sources and theatre lanterns. Students will learn how to choose lighting instruments, calculate lighting angles, control light distribution etc., and will learn the basic principles of scale drawing, and how to produce a lighting plan. Other topics covered will include control systems, computer aided design, colour, and special effects. Students will maintain a weekly journal of reflective practice in which they will analyse their process.
Dramaturgy for Stage Design
This module will be taught over two terms a professional dramaturge and aims to introduce students to a range of dramatic texts with an emphasis on the dramaturgical composition of those texts. An understanding of the contexts within which those dramaturgical strategies were produced will also be fostered. This seminar and workshop based module requires students to examine key problems related to the creation and structure of play scripts in relation to scenography. Students will consider a variety of theories regarding dramatic structure, style and form, explore different approaches to text analysis from a designer’s perspective and learn to apply a scenographic vocabulary to a number of case studies. Classes will be in the form of workshops and seminars that will be in part practical in order for the practitioner to better understand how the play works in addition to what it means, as well as to engage with the lighting and spatial demands and possibilities of the dramaturgical structure of playtexts.
Fees click to
Fees for 2021/2022
Ireland and EU fees €11,972
Overseas/non-EU fees €21,789
Part-time fees (EU) €5,987 p.a.
Part-time fees (non-EU) €11,982 p.a.
Please note, tuition fees and other charges are subject to annual review by Trinity College Dublin which may result in a fee increase each year. All students (Undergraduate and Postgraduate, EU & Non EU) on courses/programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees and other charges (Commencement/graduation fee, Sports Centre Charge and USI levy) may be subject to increase annually. The annual revision is approved by Trinity’s Committee and College Board and typically increase by approximately 3% per annum or more in any given year.
For funding opportunities click here.
The Lir Academy Bursary click to
The Lir Academy Student Bursary Fund is open to all EU students who have been offered a place on the Undergraduate Bachelor in Acting, Undergraduate Bachelor in Stage Management and Technical Theatre or any of the Postgraduate courses at The Lir, National Academy of Dramatic Art, or are already studying here.
Students can apply for the bursary once a place has been offered on the course.
Non-EU students cannot apply for The Lir Academy Bursary, but they are eligible for other Trinity College bursaries. More information here.
MFA Stage Design Course Handbook 2022-23 click to
Download the course handbook hereStage Design Course Handbook