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Programme overview

Are you passionate about acting? Develop the acting and performance skills you need to realise your full potential as an actor on screen and on the stage. Increase your awareness of voice, posture, fitness, co-ordination, spatial awareness and use of breath in relation to acting. Work on a variety of film and stage projects, and learn to express the emotional and intellectual states of a character through classical and contemporary acting techniques.

You'll benefit from staff who are experienced industry professionals, committed to developing actor training techniques. They have extensive research portfolios and maintain strong relationships with the industry.


  • Numerous performance opportunities both on film and in front of an audience at Unitec's theatre and in the community.
  • Visits from international guest tutors, such as screen acting coach Jerimiah Comey, who has decades of experience teaching in Los Angeles.
  • A model of the real entertainment industry: you work closely with directing and writing, film and television, and performance technology students.
  • Close links with industry: we're active members of SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association), WIFT (Women in Film and Television), Playmarket, New Zealand Writers Guild, Entertainment Technology NZ and New Zealand Film and Video Technicians' Guild.
  • Strong ties with South Pacific Pictures, the Auckland Theatre Company, Silo Theatre and Downstage Theatre, where students have gained practical experience before graduating. In 2011, our actors worked with the Auckland Theatre Company in Mary Stuart.
  • Strong international connections.

The unique nature of each student is celebrated through an intensive training programme built on bravery, risk, humour, respect, teamwork and innovation. You'll be nurtured and challenged to reach your potential through four interdependent core units:

Acting technique

In Year One, explore both traditional and contemporary acting techniques, from Stanislavski to Mike Alfreds, Mask Training to Improvisation. These techniques will be actively investigated, extended and tested through public and workshop performances in your second year. In Year Three, you'll prepare for the realities of this competitive industry through research and professionally modelled performance work, both on and off campus.


Develop a free, clear, rich and fully embodied voice that fully informs the text. You'll work regularly with classical and contemporary texts to connect thought, word and voice. In Year Two, you'll focus on accent and dialect, vocal character and the art of oratory. Year Three will explore the actor's voice at work, extending your vocal range and flexibility, and building a strong, intelligent professional practice.


You'll focus on the fundamentals of effective body and mind integration by addressing posture, body alignment, fitness, co-ordination, spatial awareness, use of breath and body knowledge in relation to acting. You will develop techniques on how physicality can express and reveal character, intention, emotion and psychology.

Theatre and screen studies and critical practices

Explore the historical development of drama, from its origins in ritual and religion to the age of digital communication. Examine the anatomy of drama, with emphasis on the historical evolution of dramaturgy, actor's training, the use of space, set and costume design, technology, relationship with the audience, directing and theories of drama, and the dialogue between western and eastern theatre traditions. Alongside your future industry peers, you'll explore in-depth theoretical and critical thought, integrating theory and professional practice in an exciting cross-discipline environment.


Around 150 people apply each year for the 24 places offered in Year One. First round auditions are held throughout New Zealand in early October. You'll be given clear information at the time of your application about what to learn and how to prepare. From these first-round auditions a group of applicants is selected for second round auditions. These are held in Auckland over a weekend in late October. From this two-day workshop the final selection of trainee actors is made for the following year.

For more information visit see Auditions and interviews.

Please note: If you're not sure that you're ready to audition for this highly competitive programme yet, please look at the Certificate in Communication and Media Arts, which is a semester-long programme designed to help upskill students who are interested in progressing to the degree.

Admission requirements

For this programme, you will need the following:

1. 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher including:

  • 14 credits in two different approved subjects; and
  • 14 credits from up to two subjects (approved or non-approved)

2. 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori (4 in reading, 4 in writing)
3. 14 credits in NCEA Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau
4. Interviews, submissions and/or auditions will be required – we'll notify you of what is required
5. Complete a medical declaration form
6. If English is your second language, you will need one or more of the following:

  • Have achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University entrance
  • Be able to provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency
  • Have achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years

Don’t have NCEA? We also accept:

  • A relevant qualification at Level 3 on the NZQF or above or an equivalent qualification; or
  • Provide sufficient evidence to be eligible for special or discretionary admission.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Acting Studio 1A (PASA5211) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to work collaboratively with those involved in the creative process of screen and theatre. The course focuses on collaboration and establishing the disciplines and methodologies for actor training in a hands on environment.
Acting Studio 1B (PASA5214) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable students to employ fundamental acting theories, concepts and techniques in practicebased settings The course focuses on developing professional self-management approaches for through experiential exploration of the creative process practice as well as developing the student?s ability to identify personal areas of their own creative development.
Acting Techniques 1A (PASA5215) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to gain an understanding of fundamental theories, concepts and techniques of acting for theatre and screen. The course focuses on building capability for the actors instrument in voice and movement.
Acting Techniques 1B (PASA5218) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to acquire a wide range of basic skills, knowledge and practices for acting and to identify personal areas of creative development. The focus of this course is to enable students to continue to develop their capability in voice and movement.
Storytelling, Myth & Ritual (PASA5901) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to develop a broad understanding of the major concepts of storytelling in terms of mythic constructs, rituals and symbols in an interactive multi-disciplinary learning environment. This course provides a foundation for the development of specialist Performing and Screen Arts literacies such as reading media texts and interpreting creative ideas among students from all disciplines of the programme. There is also a focus on the whakapapa of storytelling in Aotearoa placed within a noho marae learning environment.
Professional Development 1 (PASA5902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To introduce students to the basic professional practices associated with the performing and screen arts industries and their own professional development. This course focuses on building capability for students in self-management, communication and presentation, as well as academic literacies such as text analysis and academic writing.
History of Theatre (PASA5911) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to examine and reflect upon the historical development of theatre languages and theories in an interactive multi-disciplinary learning environment. This course focuses on placing selected movements and developments of production and performance in the context of the student?s specialist discipline. There is a focus on experiencing professional art making in the community through field trips and site visits.
Acting Studio 2A (PASA6211) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to apply a variety of theoretical, individual and collaborative techniques, in a range of production contexts. The course focuses on the creative relationships that develop in the making of work and the collaborative role of the actor within the process of making performance.
Acting Studio 2B (PASA6212) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable students to locate contemporary theatre theory and practice in an historical, social and political context and creatively employ appropriate technique. The course focuses on exploring acting theories as both a process and an outcome, as well as professional and creative techniques and approaches for performance.
Acting Techniques 2A (PASA6215) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to increase understanding of specialised acting theories, concepts and techniques. The course focuses on the further development of specialist skills and the evolution of a personal methodology that will give expression to individual creative development and practice.
Acting Techniques 2B (PASA6216) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to extend specific acting skills, knowledge and practices needed to achieve standards that enhance creative decisions. The course focuses on the further development of specialist skills and the application of individual creative development and practice.
Audience, Context & Interpretation (PASA6901) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to examine the ways in which the creator/performer communicates with their audience in an interactive multi-disciplinary learning environment which includes an artist hui at Te Noho Kotahitanga marae. This course focuses on understanding through the analysis of the modes of address and conventions of representation and interpretation commonly associated with performing and screen arts culture.
Professional Development 2 (PASA6902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to utilise a range of concepts that will enhance their ability to operate independently as professionals in the creative industries. The course includes a focus on establishing a personal approach for each student to professional practices within a bi-cultural context.
Acting Studio 3A (PASA7213) 30 credits (0.25 EFTS)To enable students to examine local and global perspectives and issues influencing the continuing evolution of contemporary theatre and performance and develop the ability to apply critical judgement to creative decisions. This course employs a noho marae to allow students to evaluate and develop responses to cultural/political perspectives as an emergent creative arts practitioner.
Acting Studio 3B (PASA7214) 45 credits (0.375 EFTS)To enable students to employ acting theory and technique in specialised creative situations while consolidating the ability to participate in complex work. This course focuses on enabling students to consolidate range of advanced specialist theories, concepts and techniques in a variety of practical settings to demonstrate how these concepts contribute to their personal voice as a creative artist/practitioner.
Acting Techniques 3 (PASA7215) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to establish a critical understanding of advanced acting skills, knowledge and practices while developing the ability to critically evaluate their own work and that of others. This course focusses on the intergration of techniques into all acting work.
Professional Development 3 (PASA7902) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to transition into the industry by acquiring advanced professional development skills. This course focuses on setting personal and professional goals for academic and professional achievement as well as the business and management practices associated with the performing and screen arts profession.
Skills in Screen Directing 2A (PASA6253) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To introduce students to specialised theories, concepts and techniques for directing. This course focuses on enabling students to practically engage with skills in directing for screen media.
Negotiated Creative Project 1 (PASA6605) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to engage practically in a theatre and/or screen production project in a negotiated role using a variety of individual and collaborative approaches. This course provides a practical environment for students to engage in collaborative creative projects from their own specialist perspective.
Entertainment Lab for the Very Small Screen (PASA6911) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To develop a theoretical and practical understanding of evolving digital content platforms, in order to reconceive processes for entertainment content creation and delivery into an evolving future.This course focuses on giving a hands-on experience to participants in workshop and classroom exercises
Writing the Short Film (PASA7257) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To acquire the theoretical, creative and technical skills required to develop short scripts for the screen (or associated medium).
Documentary Filmmaking (PASA7392) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To interact effectively and professionally in creative partnership with creative production staff and production crews to realise production of original/selected documentary material. This course focuses on giving a hands-on experience to participants in workshop and classroom exercises.
Theatre Design Management Fundamentals (PASA7737) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to understand, explore and demonstrate skills and techniques relating to the design and management of of a Live performance production.





The 'Key Information for Students' below does not reflect any international student information.

Please take this information as a guideline only. For example, you will often see a difference between these tuition fees and our estimate above. This is because there are a number of variables, such as the specific courses chosen within a programme.

The national graduate outcomes information is for all tertiary New Zealand providers including Unitec. This information is provided by the New Zealand Government and is derived from a national database that links educational and income information.

The statistical results below are a summary for:

Key Information for Students

Entry requirements

Minimum requirements: Applicants may be admitted to the programme under general, special or discretionary admission. Applicants must also meet English language requirements. Interviews, submissions and/or auditions will be required for all applicants.

Detailed requirements: See the above "Admission requirements" section for more information about entry to this progrogramme.


3 Years

Tuition Fees


Total Qualification

Student fees:  $9,741$29,222
Government tuition subsidy: $9,094$27,281

Compulsory Student Services Fee
Student loan information available at StudyLink.

National graduate outcomes

(3 years after completion)
Median earnings$33,649
Earnings range$19,408 - $46,097
In employment66%
In further study24%
On a benefit3%

Note:All KIS information is the most recent available relating to domestic students only. Click here for more information about the Key Information for Students.