We’ve researched all the major drama schools in the UK since 2015 and have come up with our top ten drama schools of 2020. It’s very difficult to get an objective list in an order that covers a broad overview of all the courses. We have a list of ten outstanding schools as well as some honorable mentions below.
Let us know what you think and if you want any advice on which schools are accredited, how to make your decision or our dedicated book on auditioning for drama school then follow the links or search our directory here: https://howtodrama.com/free-resources/
#1 – Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Royal Welsh has some of the best contemporary training for theatre, film & TV and musical theatre in the country. The proof can be seen in how many of their recent graduates have skyrocketed to do fantastic things straight out of their BA or MA acting and musical theatre courses.
They had a completely new set of practice rooms, rehearsal studios, theatres and concert hall installed in 2011 and they look spectacular. The college is only a 15-minute walk from Cardiff city center and the students have one of the highest satisfaction rates of any of the modern drama schools.
Notable alumni include Anthony Hopkins, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones, Alexander Vlahos, and Tom Cullen among others.
For our full article on RWCMD then check it out here: https://howtodrama.com/rwcmd/
#2 – London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts
LAMDA has gone from strength to strength in recent years. This is partly due to the fact that their brand new building was opened on their original campus. The school has always maintained a high standard of training and it’s history goes back to 1861.
Much like RWCMD the recent alumni of LAMDA has done really well in TV, Film, and Theatre. They’ve got a breathtaking array of courses that all train in their campus by Barons Court – near Hammersmith in London.
Notable alumni include Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dominic Cooper, Brian Cox, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jason Flemyng among others.
For our full article on LAMDA please see here: https://howtodrama.com/london-academy-of-music-and-dramatic-arts/
#3 – Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Much like many of the historical drama schools the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts has one of the most prestigious reputations. The school was founded in 1904 and has one of the most central locations by Goodge Street in London.
It is extremely competitive to get into RADA – on top of how competitive drama school admission is. However, those students who are lucky enough to get admitted experience RADA’s world-class training.
Notable alumni include James Norton, Tom Hiddleston, Kenneth Branagh, Ben Wishaw and Mark Rylance among others.
For our full article on RADA please see here: https://howtodrama.com/rada/
#4 – Bristol Old Vic
Bristol Old Vic stands out in relation to other drama schools because they have one the highest teacher to student ratios. They don’t have huge cohorts and many of their courses are specialized – needless to say, they’re very picky about who they take. It’s clear that they invest heavily in each one of their students and care about whether they’re successful or not.
The proof is in the pudding and Bristol Old Vic has had some of the most successful alumni of any drama school. Notable alumni include Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Olivia Colman, Mark Strong, Samantha Bond and Jeremy Irons amongst others.
#5 – Guildford School of Acting
Guildford School of Acting – AKA GSA – has an especially good reputation for those students studying musical theatre. Their alumni can be seen regularly on the west end as well as broadway and touring musical productions. However, the reason they’re so high up on this list is that their other courses have been increasing in quality for the past decade.
They, like many other drama schools, have invested heavily in their premises and teacher quality. The school is also in association with the University of Surrey which means that their students get incorporated into university life. This may explain why they have very high satisfaction rates for their acting and musical theatre students.
Notable alumni include Bill Nighy, Owen Teale, Michael Ball, Claire Cooper and Celia Imrie amongst others.
#6 – Guildhall
Guildhall has a stellar reputation for training actors for stage, film, and TV. Although a lot of the big names that everyone would recognize have gone into film and TV Guildhall have an excellent voice and physical training program. This means that many of their graduates go on to have fantastic careers in stage and theatres. Their graduates often train in the National Theatre due to the fact that they’re not far from the Olivier stage in London. This means that they have the opportunity to work in one of the most difficult venues for an actor and push their voice to its limits before they’re cast in anything.
Patsy Rodenberg – who is perhaps the most famous vocal coach alive today – is a principal teacher at the school. She’s written many fantastic books on her success whilst training Guildhall students. The school has generally good satisfaction ratings and is undoubtedly one of the best training spots globally.
Notable alumni include Ewan McGreggor, Daniel Craig, Dominic West, Hayley Atwell, Rhys Ifans and Paapa Essiedu amongst others.
#7 – Oxford School of Drama
If you ever visit Oxford School of Drama the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s in one of the most serene spots of any drama school. This lends itself to their style of training which is very intense and focused. Unlike drama schools that are based in London or regional capitals, the school is very much in the countryside.
Notable alumni include Claire Foy, Margaret Clunie, Freddy Carter, Olivia Bromley, and Lee Boardman among others.
#8 – ArtsEd
ArtsEd was established in 1939 and is one of those schools that often fly under the RADAR. That’s partly due to the fact that ArtsEd was split between two different locations until the 2000s. After that time ArtsEd was established in Chiswick and the second location is now the prestigious Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
However, their new building is under renovation in London and they’ve heavily invested in their teaching quality. They offer a great variety of courses and take care to support their students.
Notable alumni include Danny Mac, Nigel Harman, Dame Angela Lansbury, and Dom Simpson amongst others.
#9 – Rose Bruford
Rose Bruford has some of the most diverse courses of all the drama schools. They have really high-quality courses ranging from Actor Musicianship to European Theatre. This means that you get a lot of cross-pollination between the courses and a great culture.
Notably, Rose Bruford is based in Sidcup – Kent. This location is just enough out of the way to get some peace and quiet but not too far out of the way to lower student satisfaction ratings. Remember that everyone wants to be able to go to civilization sometimes.
Notable alumni include Gary Oldman, Pam St Clement, Ron Cook, Lake Bell, and Tom Baker amongst others.
#10 – Mountview
Mountview is another example of a drama schools with a great reputation for training musical theatre performers.
Notable alumni include Brendan Coyle, Tim Downie, Iqbal Khan, Eddie Marsan and Ken Stott amongst others.
Manchester Metropolitan Schools of theatre
We get to speak to a lot of drama school applicants and more and more the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre is coming up. It’s a sign that they’re doing something right in training their actors for contemporary film and television roles.
It’s great to have an example of a drama school with a solid reputation that’s not based in the South of England. We at Howtodrama.com are always screaming for more diversity in the UK drama school system and great training across the country is a way to get that started.
Italia Conti is another example of a drama school that is traditionally known for its musical theatre training.
However, recently their acting courses have been gaining a great reputation. They’re extremely invested in shouting about their successful graduates as you can often see on their website: https://www.italiaconti.com/ba-acting
Whenever I speak to casting directors or theatre practitioners they are all very complimentary about the students that graduate from East 15. There is something about the culture there which makes the graduates easy to work with. They are encouraged to be collaborative and often have a great support network when they graduate.
Academy of Live and Recorded Arts
ALRA is quickly climbing the ranks of the UK drama schools due to the quality of their teaching over the past decade. The only reason that they’re not on the top ten is that we’ve found it difficult to find statistics of their student satisfaction ratings.
However, anecdotally we’ve heard great things about the quality of their training. ALRA is particularly good at providing filming and sound recording equipment because that’s the focus of the establishment.
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