NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

CRICOS: 083699F

BFA (Design for Performance)

Home Study Undergraduate BFA (Design for Performance)


3 years full-time on campus

Fees 2025

$17,400 / year AUD (domestic)

Semester Dates 2025

Semester 1: 10 February – 20 June
Semester 2: 21 July – 21 November

Applications for 2025 intake

Open Monday 3 June 2024

Contact Admissions

+61 (02) 9697 7686

BFA (Design for Performance)

Course Overview

Good questions stretch the limits of our imagination and creativity. Curiosity in design is an attitude; a form of critical thinking for engaging with our world and articulating our place within it. NIDA graduates don’t just shape our stages and screens, they challenge and inspire us to see a better world.

NIDA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design for Performance offers emerging designers the skills, space, opportunities and pathways to forge creative and versatile careers across all parts of the performance and entertainment industries.

Learning is embedded in staged individual and collaborative design projects, with students, teachers and industry mentors working collectively to create an environment for mutual learning that brings together the best in critical thinking and immersive practice. You will apply intellectual inquiry and dramaturgical principles with both analogue and digital observation and representations skills. You will also interrogate language, spatial forms, materials, technologies and techniques to develop innovative stage, costume, props and lighting designs for live performance and screen productions.

Throughout your degree, you will create designs for live productions, short films, music videos, devised works, installations and industry collaborations. Students are encouraged to take risks, without fear of failure and empowered to create new ideas, design solutions and opportunities, and innovate change from the ground up.

You will graduate from NIDA with a robust skillset, valuable industry connections and confidence about your future in stage and screen design.

  • Apply critical, creative, and sensory skills to spatial, scenic and costume principles to create meaningful designs for performance contexts.
  • Synthesise knowledge of current technologies, materials, methods, and techniques in the development, communication, and realisation of design concepts.
  • Embrace collaboration and use effective verbal, written and/or visual strategies to communicate and exchange design thinking and technical information.
  • Recognise the importance of curiosity and inform practice through knowledge of local, international, and historical perspectives, as well as personal experience.
  • Apply innovative and entrepreneurial skills to develop leadership qualities and autonomous and collaborative practice.
  • Recognise and articulate an empathetic and inclusive social, ethical, and cultural literacy, including sustainability, within design practice.

Students are at NIDA from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. During production terms students may also be required for rehearsals after hours and on weekends.

Additional time also needs to be allocated to library work, research, preparation for classes and private study. For this reason it is difficult for NIDA students to maintain regular part-time jobs. Studying at NIDA is a big commitment so students need to manage their time and resources carefully.

All NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are three-year full-time courses. All NIDA Master of Fine Arts courses, except for Cultural Leadership, are 18-month full-time courses.

2025 Semester Dates

Semester 1: 10 February – 20 June 2025
Welcome Week: 3 – 7 February 2025 (First years & MFA only)
BFA Term 1: 10 February – 11 April 2025
Mid-semester break : 14 – 25 April 2025
BFA Term 2: 28 April – 20 June 2025

Semester 2: 21 July – 21 November 2025
BFA Term 3: 21 July – 12 September 2025
Mid-semester break: 15 – 19 September 2025
BFA Term 4: 22 September – 21 November 2025

Term dates exclude public holidays. View 2025 NSW public holiday dates.

Year One

  • Design Studio
  • Representation
  • Dramaturgy and Analysis
  • Production Techniques
  • Performance and Ideas
  • Performance Makers
  • Story and Place

Year Two

  • Design Studio
  • Dramaturgy and Analysis
  • Production Techniques
  • Film Studio
  • Story and Place
  • Contexts of Performance
  • Student Led Projects

Year Three

  • Design Practice
  • Film Practice
  • Professional Practice

In your final year, you will be placed with a design professional or professional arts company.

Download 2024 Course Overview

Our graduates have won numerous awards, including Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, AACTA Awards, APDG Awards, Green Room and Sydney Theatre Awards. They have designed for Cirque du Soleil, Bangarra Dance Theatre, as well as feature films from international studios such as The Amazing Spider ManThe Matrix, Romeo + JulietBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeThe Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2Watchmen300Garden StateThe FavouriteGame of ThronesThe Great GatsbyMoulin Rouge!True History of the Kelly Gang21 Grams, not to mention several Olympic Games and more.

Potential careers:

  • Stage and screen set/production designer
  • Stage and screen costume designer
  • Art director
  • Lighting designer
  • Properties designer
  • Event designer

Meet the team

Open Day 2024

Learn more about the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design for Performance program from Open Day course information session on Saturday 15 June.

Admissions Criteria

Domestic students with overseas qualifications must supply certified translations of their qualifications.
International students with academic qualifications that are not in English will need to attach a certified, official translation in English in application portal.

For more information, read our Admissions Transparency Statement.

Entry is by merit selection.

General entry requirements for accredited courses are as follows:

  • Have completed a Higher School Certificate or equivalent qualification at the end of high school for undergraduate courses.
  • Be 18 years of age by 31 March in the first year of enrolment for domestic students in undergraduate programs.
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English.
  • Have skills and knowledge appropriate to the level and discipline into which the applicant is seeking to gain admission.
  • Have an evidenced interest in the performing arts.

Applications are encouraged from domestic applicants who:

  • Have previous higher education study.
  • Have vocational education and training.
  • Have work and life experience (having left school more than two years ago).
  • Are recent secondary education applicants.
  • Identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Applications are encouraged from international applicants who:

  • have successfully completed a Genuine Temporary Entry (GTE) interview.
  • have completed the equivalent of a Year 12 or final year of high school qualification
  • have an English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 7.0 with no band score less than 6.0 (IELTS 8.0 for BFA Acting).
  • Are 18 years of age at date of enrolment for international students.
  • Have skills and knowledge appropriate to the level and discipline into which the applicant is seeking to gain admission.
  • Have an evidenced interest in the performing arts.

Recognition of Prior Learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.

NIDA may grant credit for:

  • Formal study undertaken in recognised education institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions.
  • Credentialed courses provided by recognised professional bodies, employers and other authorities, where appropriate certification is available; and
  • Prior learning, where such learning can be sufficiently evidenced.

The principles underlying the assessment of credit transfer/Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applications are that the policy and procedures are:

  • Aligned to the Higher Education Standards Framework and the Vocational Standards for RTOs.
  • Designed to maintain the integrity and reputation of NIDA’s accredited courses for which credit or RPL is applied and support the collaborative nature of NIDA’s conservatoire training model.
  • Consistent, equitable, transparent, and accountable.
  • Based on processes of comparable standard and integrity to those used to assess the relevant subject.
  • That students are not disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for the course of study or qualification.

NIDA Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

Apply for RPL/Credit Transfer

Domestic students with overseas qualifications must supply certified translations of their qualifications.

We select students who:

  • demonstrate commitment and motivation in relation to the arts, entertainment and related industries, to their chosen discipline, and to the course of study
  • provide evidence of their capacity to work creatively and imaginatively
  • demonstrate an aptitude to collaborate with peers as part of a creative process
  • demonstrate a range of knowledge, skills, technical abilities and/or problem-solving techniques relevant to their discipline
  • demonstrate cultural and contextual awareness
  • articulate and communicate ideas clearly

Due to the volume of auditions carried out, we are unable to provide you with individual feedback. The decision of the audition panel is final.

It is not possible to defer an offer of a place at NIDA.

How to apply

Applicants MUST apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the BFA Design for Performance is by interview. Applicants will need to prepare a project and portfolio as part of their application.

The application process for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) consists of two rounds:

  • Round One – online application, with artist statement and portfolio
  • Round Two – interview

Only applicants who are successful in Round One will be invited to an interview.

Download Application Guide

1. ARTIST STATEMENT (must be submitted as a PDF)

This is a statement that describes the kind of artist you are, your career goals, and what attracts you to the Design for Performance course. This should include your understanding of the role of design in the performance industry (this could include stage, screen or other emerging platforms). Please provide us with any previous relevant experience.

Your statement should include one example of live performance you have seen recently whether in-person or recorded, and describe the design elements (set, costume, lighting, video, etc.), explaining the role they played in creating meaning to the performance.

The statement should not exceed 800 words. Please include the production name, venue and location, and the design team’s names if possible. Please include up to five images, where possible.

2.  PORTFOLIO (submitted as a PowerPoint or PDF)

Your digital portfolio should show us who you are as a creative thinker and demonstrate your ability to develop and express ideas and concepts with visual, spatial and material language.

A good portfolio will demonstrate your creativity and passion, and your level of design skill. This can include work produced in the workplace, at school, at university, at home, or for leisure and can include examples of:

  • Production photographs from plays, performances or film projects you have worked on.
  • Design projects, including development journals.
  • Drawing, digital drawing, drafting, painting, printing.
  • Photography, collage, illustration, graphic design.
  • Storyboarding, concept art, animations, film editing.
  • Model-making, digital modelling.
  • Making projects, including models, sculptures, costumes, properties, and scenic art.
  • Anything else that demonstrates your visual thinking and skills.

Your portfolio should be curated and simply presented to show your best work. It is better to have fewer examples of higher quality, between 12 and 24 pages should be enough.

The choice and presentation of your portfolio images is an example of your design thinking and visual communication that we will consider. You will be asked to talk through your portfolio at the interview.


The statement and portfolio must be submitted as PDF files and clearly titled with your name as follows:

  • fullname_statement_BFADFP_2024
  • fullname_portfolio_BFADFP_2024

You will upload both your Artist Statement and Portfolio in the ‘Course Specific Application Requirements’ attachment section of your online application.

You will be advised by email if you are successful in Round One. If you are successful, you will receive an invitation for an interview in Round Two. This will include confirmation of an interview date.

Please note all efforts will be made to give successful Round One applicants their preferred interview date, but NIDA cannot guarantee the date and time as it is subject to staff availability.

How to prepare for your interview

Each applicant will be interviewed for approximately 45 minutes. All interviews will take place via Microsoft Teams. A link to be provided prior to interview.

During the interview, we will discuss your Artist Statement and Portfolio (please make sure you have it on hand); your ideas about theatre, film and the broader creative and entertainment industry; and why you want to study Design for Performance at NIDA.

There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about NIDA or about the interview itself.

You will be advised of the outcome of your interview by email.


Some tips:

NIDA recognises that interviews can be stressful, but we will do our best to make your experience as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

The interview process is friendly, informal and open, and is designed to give you the best opportunity to show us your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.

Remember, the more time and effort you put into your application and portfolio, the better prepared you will be, and the more you will enjoy the interview.

Fees and Scholarships

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

Domestic Students

Domestic tuition fees overview

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Degree Course duration 2025 Annual tuition fee $AUD* Estimated total course tuition fee*
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) Three years $17,400.00 $52,200.00

2024 Domestic Undergraduate Student Fee Schedule

2023 Domestic Undergraduate Student Fee Schedule

International Students

International tuition fees overview

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students, please read full details here.

Degree Course duration 2024 Annual tuition fee $AUD* Estimated total course tuition fee*
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) Three years $34,920 $104,760

2024 International Undergraduate Student Fee Schedule

*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and if you enrol you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolments.

** EFTSL – Effective Full-Time Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full-time study load of 1.0 for an academic year. For consistency, the EFTSL have been rounded to 3 decimal places. This is not indicative of the full value of the EFTSL but represents an accurate load for fee calculations.

Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.

What is FEE-HELP?

FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student’s tuition fees.

In 2024, the FEE-HELP loan limit is $121,844 for most students.

A loan fee of 20% applies to FEE-HELP loans for undergraduate courses of study. The FEE-HELP limit does not include the loan fee.

The Government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their income rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

For more information go to

Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?

  • You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:
  • an Australian Citizen; or
  • hold a permanent humanitarian visa

Those NOT eligible for FEE-HELP are:

  • New Zealand citizens – refer to the Study Assist website
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Overseas students

Financial Assistance

Eligible students, who are Australian residents, can apply to Centrelink for financial assistance through Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY. Visit Centrelink or call 132 490 for more information.

NIDA is committed to making its education and learning more accessible to the most creative and talented individuals across Australia with a range of scholarships aimed to remove financial barriers, providing students with the opportunity to study at NIDA while being relieved of some of the cost of living, relocating and study expenses.

NIDA scholarships are made available by the generous support of donors, sponsors, corporate partners, trusts and bequests, through the NIDA Foundation Trust, and enable a significant increase in financial assistance to ongoing and students commencing study in 2025.


Further Information

The table below gives an indication of the educational backgrounds of the 2024 commencing undergraduate BFA peer cohort in all disciplines at NIDA.

It should be noted that as selection and admission to courses at NIDA is based on merit the statistics below may not be indicative of the educational backgrounds of commencing cohorts on a year-to-year basis.

L/N – Low numbers: the number of students is less than 5.

Applicant Background Number of students Percentage of all students
(A) Past higher education study 11 17.7%
(B) Past Vocational Education and Training study 22 35.5%
(C) Recent secondary education
Admitted on basis of other criteria and ATAR was not a factor
20 32.3%
(D) Work and life experience 8 12.9%
International students L/N L/N
All students 62 100%


NIDA’S Registration Status

Registered as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA

Registration Renewal Date

25 June 2025

CRICOS Registration

Code: 00756M

This allows NIDA to enrol international students on student visas into CRICOS approved courses.

Self Accrediting Authority*

Yes – partial self accrediting

Registered Higher Education providers may be authorised by TEQSA to self-accredit courses of study.

Course Name Status CRICOS Code
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) Self-Accredited by NIDA under TEQSA’s determination of Self-Accrediting Authority for NIDA. 083699F

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more info about NIDA courses, admissions and facilities? Check our FAQ page for answers to commonly-asked questions from future students.

This qualification is recognised in the Australian Qualifications Framework

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. Read more information about the AQF.

What does it take to put on a show?