The Oxford School of Drama

Guide to applying to Drama Schools in the UK

An image of a white man applying to drama school in the UK. The image is a close up of a white man with a black t-shirt preparing to speak through a microphone

At The Oxford School of Drama we want to give every applicant the best possible chance of securing a place on one of our courses so we have produced a useful guide to help you when applying to our School along with general tips for creating a self-tape that are useful if applying to any of the Drama Schools in the UK.

Drama schools in the UK are the best places to study acting and drama

If you want to pursue a career in acting or drama, then there is no better place than The Oxford School of Drama to hone your skills. We are considered to be one of the top 10 Drama Schools in the UK. The acting courses are designed to help you reach your full potential through vocal, physical and imaginative techniques. We have an emphasis on building artists and creators and provide you with the ability to continue learning and developing throughout your professional life. We are a small school, and we offer a unique setting to train. A combination of  the calm of the countryside and the hustle and bustle or Oxford and London.


In this article we will guide you through the process of applying to the School and take a look at how you can get the most out of your self-taped application to any Drama School in the UK.


Applying to Drama Schools in the UK

To apply to a Drama School in the UK, you will need to apply within the audition season and take part in an audition process for the course(s) that you are applying for. It is advised to apply as early in the season as possible so that you can make sure you are available to attend any in-person recall auditions. It is important that you experience what the School is like in person so that you get a real sense of what it would be like to be a student at the School.


Useful Tips For Applying To Drama Schools in the UK

When applying for an acting course in a Drama School in the UK you will most likely be expected to have a classical and contemporary speech prepared. When choosing your pieces, choose a role that is close to your age, so that you can really relate to it and bring yourself to the role. You will work with the same speeches for a long period of time so try to find one that excites you or inspires you. When filming your speeches, try to limit yourself to 3 takes so that you remain natural in your approach. 

Some Drama Schools in the UK run short courses which give you a chance to prepare for auditioning for Drama School and get a feel for the teaching at the School.


What do Drama Schools in the UK expect from your taped application?

Drama Schools in the UK generally require a self-tape as part of the application. This is usually considered your First Round audition. If you are new to creating self-tapes, consider the following when filming your audition:

  • Pick a quiet room with some space to move and no background noise so that you feel comfortable when filming.
  • Stand away from the background which should be plain and not distracting.
  • Be aware of your distance from the camera/mic and speak up (project) when further away – we recommend at least the top of your head to your waist are visible.
  • Make sure the room is bright and you can be seen clearly – lit from the front rather than above. Do not place yourself in silhouette and be careful of the position of windows.
  • Try and use a tripod – not handheld. If you don’t have a tripod, spend a bit of time experimenting to ensure that your device is secure.
  • Your eyeline should be slightly to the side of the camera when you are performing your monologues so that you are not looking directly at the camera. You may find it helpful having someone standing just to side of the camera, out of shot, for you to talk to but it is useful to practice really imagining the person(s) you are speaking to so that you are comfortable doing this when auditioning in person.
  • For your self-tape audition at The Oxford School of Drama, you are expected to have learnt the speeches, rather than reading the script to camera. 
  • Avoid props, costume and make up. Drama schools in the UK that run Acting courses are interested in you and your acting potential only at this point.
  • Please ensure that you check the video for any audio issues etc. before you upload the link to YouTube or Vimeo. Please check that the settings are not set to “private” and that there is no expiration date on the video. You can select the unlisted option in the privacy settings so that your video can only be viewed by people who have the video link, and it will not appear in public places, such as search results, your channel, or subscriber feeds.
  • You can then add the link to your online application.

How to apply to The Oxford School of Drama and other drama schools in the UK

When you apply to The Oxford School of Drama you are required to submit a First Round self-tape link. The self-tape should include an introduction and answer to the following question: Why do you think we tell stories? followed by a classical speech from the 16th or 17th century and finally a contrasting speech from a 20th or 21st century play. It should be no more than 6 minutes long (2 minutes per section).



It’s All About You

“You must live the part every moment that you are playing it!” Konstantin Stanislavski

A young white female applying to Drama School in the UK being interviewed.

Your 2 minute Introduction should include your name, age and the course or courses you are applying to followed by addressing the question – Why do you think we tell stories? Next, tell us why you want to come to The Oxford School of Drama. Speak naturally, some pauses and a few “um’s” are fine. Really look at yourself and find what makes you as an individual, special and different to everyone else. We want to hear from you so speak from the heart.


The Secret of Classical

Drama Schools in the UK will have heard the same classical piece a million times before, but it’s about what you do with it that counts.

Your Classical Speech is next and again this should be no longer than 2 minutes. Prepare a piece from the 16th or 17th Century (Shakespeare, Jonson, Behn etc). There is a really broad range of writers from that period. Choose a familiar piece or something that you like. Try to keep the shape and emotional journey of the piece. If you need to cut it, do so because it needs to be no longer than 2 minutes.


It’s Time To Think About Contemporary

There needs to be something about the contemporary that you connect with.

Your final 2 minute piece must be a contrasting Contemporary Speech from the 20th or 21st Century. Pick something you are connected to, something that you like. If you are struggling for inspiration, then look at the following theatres, known for having a strong contemporary repertoire:

Most drama schools in the UK will request that you choose two contrasting pieces, where the psychological action of the character is different in each. This is what we mean by contrasting, not just a comic piece and a dramatic piece. For inspiration, monologue books are a great place to start but please MAKE SURE YOU HAVE READ THE PLAY so you have understood the context and the story.

Visit our How To Apply page for tips and videos from our Audition Panel.

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