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Higher Education
Please find below frequently asked questions about community dance in Higher Education - please click the question to view the answer.
>   What do you mean by Higher Education?

Higher Education courses lead to a degree, diploma or certificate validated or awarded by a university or training institution. Universities typically offer first degrees e.g. Batchelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons). Some universities offer BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), which are generally equivalent to the first year/two years of a degree. Some independent higher education institutions and vocational dance training schools award degrees, but also offer Diplomas of Higher Education (Dip HE) or Certificates of Higher Education (Cert HE).

Community dance in higher education

If you want dance training to study community dance, it is most likely that you will study at a university, as vocational schools tend to cater for those students wishing to pursue a career as a performer, choreographer or dance teacher in the professional dance performance, commercial, and private sectors.

Most university dance courses will involve the study of community dance in some form or another. Even where a course does not specify community dance as a feature, a great deal of what you study will provide a useful contextual and skills base for working in community dance, and many dance programmes include independent or negotiated study units that can be tailored to individual interests, such as community dance.

There is no formalised or prescribed route to a career in community dance, and many artists currently working in the community dance sector have not necessarily had access to specialised education at undergraduate level. Like them, you may choose to undertake a generic dance degree (or other types of formal education) and pursue more specialised training through professional organisations or postgraduate courses at a later stage.

However, if you do wish to specialise at this stage of your education, or you are a practising professional wishing to return to formal education and gain a higher education qualification to support your Continuing Professional Development (CPD), this information sheet will help you to identify those institutions where you can study community dance as part of an undergraduate programme.

There is one course listed here which is not an undergraduate degree, Postgraduate Diploma: Community Dance at Laban in London is included as the only course of its kind offering a full time, HE-accredited, vocational training in community dance.

>   What might I gain from studying community dance at university?

By studying dance at a university you will be part of an education framework that enables you to achieve a nationally recognised qualification. This can be beneficial as a measure of achievement for yourself, as a foundation for your future professional development, and can be valuable in easing your route to paid employment. Many, if not most, employers in the community dance sector (and most certainly in other non-arts sectors) will recognise - or be reassured by - attainment of a first degree.

By embarking on a course where community dance is offered as an area of study it means that you will have already begun to APPLY and FOCUS your dance skills to the area of work within which your career goals lie. Furthermore, such is the range of skills and attributes required to work in this field that you will carry with you a highly desirable range of competence and understanding that will be beneficial to whatever area of dance you wish to pursue in the future.

>   What kind of things will I study on a full-time dance course?

All courses differ, but there are commonalities in undergraduate dance study based on the core skills, knowledge and understanding deemed appropriate to a higher education in dance. Whilst each course will have its own particular identity or specialism, they are all likely to include practical and/or theoretical study in many, if not all, of the following areas: dance technique, choreography, performance, anatomy/dance science/somatics, dance history, critical and contextual studies, dance teaching, dance in education/community settings, dance management, work based learning/project work, research/independent study, professional/business/career planning. A degree course that has a focus on community dance is likely to place greater emphasis on those areas of study connected to dance teaching, working with different groups of people, project planning, work based learning and historical and contextual studies relating to community dance i.e. its purpose, place and identity.

>    How will I find a course that specialises in community dance?

We have provided a list of institutions below, but this information is not definitive, nor can we guarantee the currency of information on specific courses and institutions. It is important to research thoroughly via individual websites and course literature, the Universities Central Admissions Service (UCAS) or other websites we have listed under ‘useful contacts’. Once you have an overview of what is available, it pays to follow up with enquiries direct to the individual institutions and, where possible, visits to the university and discussions with course staff and existing students. It is important to do everything you can to ensure that, as far as possible, you will be getting the dance education that you want and that best suits your current and longer term needs.

>   How do I finance my higher education?

How much you pay for your higher education course depends on your eligibility and the eligibility of the course for HE funding.

Accredited courses attract government funding to limit the fees that students pay; if you follow a standard university degree course, you are therefore eligible for mandatory HE awards which cover the greater part of tuition fees. You have to make a contribution (top up) to this fee and you can apply for a student loan for living expenses and help towards your fee contribution. How much you pay in tuition fees and your eligibility for student loans varies and is assessed against your own/your parents’/your spouse’s income. There are also various other grants, benefits and learning allowances for which you may be eligible depending on your circumstances.

For non-accredited courses offered by institutions and vocational training schools in the private sector, there is a scheme called The Dance and Drama Awards. This is a scholarship scheme funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

>   How much will full-time dance education cost?

The cost of a full-time course is entirely dependent on which course and which institution you choose. You'll need to ask each course provider directly for the fees relating to the courses provided.

>   Once I find the course that I want, how do I apply?

Applications to universities in the UK are managed through UCAS. If you want to apply for a particular course, contact UCAS and request an application form.

It is advisable to apply for more than one course, in case you are not accepted onto your first choice. Your completed application is forwarded to the relevant university/ies where academic tutors within the subject area will decide whether or not they think you are a suitable applicant for their course. If you are successful at this first ‘short listing’ stage, you will usually be asked to attend an interview and/or practical audition.

If you are applying for a part-time course, or a course in one of the full-time vocational dance institutions or conservatoires then you'll need to apply directly to the institution of your choice. Check out the information about how to make an application on the website of the institution that you've chosen.

>   How do I find out more about being self-employed or going freelance?

If you’re a People Dancing member, complete the Development Needs Analysis (DNA), as this will help you identify those areas where you need particular support to develop skills relating to self-employment. The DNA also has linked resources that will support your development.

Have a look in our Knowledge Bank, you’ll find fact sheets and supporting resources to help you get to grips with things like contracts and finance.

Business link also offers generalised information about setting up as a self-employed person and there are links from their website to other supporting agencies.

>   Can People Dancing provide a reading / resource list that will support my learning?

As each course is different we are unable to provide a general reading list to support students’ learning. However the People Dancing website contains a host of information about different aspects of dance practice that you will encounter whilst on your course.

It’s worth checking out the Knowledge Bank as this contains a search facility that links to a wide range of resources. If you’re a People Dancing member you may also find it useful to have a go at the Development Needs Analysis as this has reading lists linked to a number of topics.

>   Useful contacts

The Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET)
Provides information, advice and guidance on education and professional development for dancers, with a particular focus on the private vocational sector.
Address: Old Brewer's Yard, 17-19 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9UY
Tel: 0207 240 5703

Dance and Drama Awards
A scholarship scheme funded by the DfES, the Dance and Drama Awards fund a number of places at schools in the private sector.

Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland)
Offers financial information for students entering higher education.
Student Finance Branch, Room 407, Adelaide House, 39-49 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FD
028 9025 7777

Department for Education
Find out which student loans, grants, bursaries and other help you could qualify for, and apply online for student loans and grants. Includes full information on repaying student loans.

Education and Library Boards (ELB) (Northern Ireland)

Students apply for financial assistance through one of five local ELBs. More information can be found via the online resource.

The Education Grants Advisory Service (EGAS)
EGAS provides information and advice on funding for post-16 education including loans, grants, benefits, access funds, hardship funds, bursaries and charitable trusts
Address: 501-505 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, E8 4AU
Tel: 020 7254 6251

Learn Direct
A free help line and website giving impartial information about education and learning opportunities.
Tel: 0800 100 900

The National Union of Students (NUS)
Produces NUS welfare information pack including information on grants, awards and alternative financial assistance.
Address: 2nd Floor, Centro 3, Mandela Street, London, NW1 0DU
Tel: 020 221 8221
Textphone: 020 7380 6649

Student Awards Agency for Scotland
The university grant application service for Scotland.
Address: Gyleview House, 3 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh, EH12 9HH
Tel: 0845 111 1711
Email: Send an email via their website here:

The Student Loans Company
The Student Loans Company (SLC) organises the payment, maintenance and collection of government student loans which are designed to help students meet their living costs while at university or college.
Address: 100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 7JD
Tel: 0800 40 50 10

University Central Admissions Service (UCAS)
UCAS is the central organisation that processes applications for undergraduate courses at UK universities and colleges. It offers a searchable website of current courses and institutions.
Address: PO Box 28, Cheltenham, GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 112 2211

>   How old do I have to be to sign up for a full-time dance course?

The age at which you start full-time dance education is largely dependent on the area of dance that you want to pursue as a career.

Visit the Council for Dance Education and Training's (CDET) website at for detailed information.

>   Where can I find the right dance course for me?

Full-time dance education takes place in a wide range of organisations, both in the UK and abroad.

If you're looking for a career in performance then the best place to read about the options available to you is the Council for Dance Education and Training's (CDET) website, at

If you're interested in becoming a community dance practitioner or artist, then click here to find out more.

>   How long does it take to become a community dance artist?

Most people working in the community dance sector have undertaken a full-time, three-year course before they start work.

In most cases this will have been a degree course, taken at university. Others may have taken a higher education qualification, such as a diploma or Higher National Diploma (HND) / Higher National Certificate (HNC), while others may have undertaken a post-graduate, one-year course in community dance.

However, it's important to remember that all of these options form a community dance practitioner's initial education. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an essential part of a dance artist's life.

>   Are there other options available?

Outside of the formal education sector, various dance agencies and organisations within the professional sector offer training courses and professional development opportunities, some of which are accredited, such as the Dance Leaders course run by the Laban Guild.

A recent development for the sector has been the introduction of the Diploma for Dance Teaching and Learning (DDTAL). This qualification sits at Level 6 (equivalent to a bachelors degree with honours) on the Qualifications and Credit Framework and has been specifically designed for people teaching dance to children and young people.

Further information about the DDTAL can be found at

Most professional courses are part-time, and some are occasional or ‘one-off’ short courses, allowing you to build an individual training/professional development portfolio according to your needs and circumstances.

For more information on courses and opportunities available, visit the Courses and Conferences page or go to the Useful contacts page to contact your regional and local dance agencies.

>   Where can I look to find a community dance work / project placement?

First stop - ask your tutor for help and advice. They'll know the sort of project work that you're interested in and the types of organisations, companies and individuals that might support you on a project.

Talk with other students - particularly students who are in their second or third years of study. They may have had good (or bad!) placements and may be able to offer advice on what's available locally.

If you know that you're interested in a particular area of work and you know of a company, institution or individual that is well-known for this area of activity, then drop them an email or a letter to ask if they might be willing and able to accommodate work-placement students. Remember to leave lots of time between making your approach and the dates of your placement. Give them as much relevant information as you can; what course you're on, how long you need a placement for, what skills you'd be able to offer them while on placement and what you'd like to be involved in.

Don't try to do all of this in a phone call - write to them with the information and provide them with contact details. They're very busy people and it may take them some time to get back to you.

Do your homework first. Check out institution or company websites to see whether they do work in the area that you're interested in. Remember that People Dancing also has a Directory of Members that contains some useful contact details.

Read Animated and Participate magazine, to find out which practitioners are working in your areas of interest.

>   Where can I find background information about the community dance movement?

You can find a definition of what it means to be engaged in community dance here.

There’s also masses of information about the many different aspects of community dance on the People Dancing website - use the search facility in our Information Store, or look through back issues of Animated magazine.

The Information Store contains archived material that provides an insight into the history of community dance, both in the UK and abroad.

>   Where can I find out information about specific groups I may want to work with in the future?

There are a number of ways to find information about sector-specific groups that work across the community dance sector.

  1. Look at the Developing Participation section of the People Dancing website; Deaf and disabled people, Dance and Older People etc, and take a look at our Courses and Events page
  2. Read Animated and Participate magazines. This is an excellent way of identifying new trends across the sector and will help you to work out which companies, institutions or individuals are working in the areas that you’re interested in
  3. Building on the information you gained from Animated and Participate or from People Dancing's website, do a general web-search
  4. If you're one of our student members, use the search facility in the Directory of Members to identify people working in your area of interest. Their contact details are provided.
>   What are my job prospects on finishing my dance education?

Dance is the fastest growing art form, with over 13% of the population now attending dance performances (Arts Council England). With approximately 10.5 million viewers the BBC’s 'Strictly Come Dancing' is just one example of the way that dance’s popularity is having an impact on every home in Britain today. With this increase in popularity has come an increase in demand for participatory activity with dance practitioners working in a widening range of genres and contexts.

There’s always stiff competition for jobs, however community dance offers a very broad range of career options: you may choose to become a self-employed practitioner, setting up dance activities in a variety of contexts within your local community; you may seek employment within an institution (such as a school or health-care setting) or with a dance company; or you may find yourself with a portfolio career – with some employment, some self-employment and some short-term or long-term contracts.

Have a look at People Dancing's Development Needs Analysis to help you identify the wide range of skills you need to become a successful dance practitioner. These are linked to the National Occupational Standards for Dance Leadership and they’ll help you recognise the supporting skills you’re going to need to make a successful career in dance.

>   Where’s the best place to look for jobs in the dance sector?

Sign up here to receive People Dancing's free monthly jobs e-newsletter, which lists jobs that are currently available within the dance sector. These are also listed on the Jobs and careers page of the website.

It’s also worth registering your interest with your local regional dance agency or dance development agency as many of these have email alert lists that can highlight local jobs. You can find their contact details here.

>   Institutions and courses contact information

The following courses offer the opportunity to specialise in community dance throughout the degree, or through optional ‘pathways’ within the degree:

Canterbury Christ Church University
BA (Hons) Dance Education
The specific focus of the Dance Education programme is to develop dance artists/practitioners who are able to:

  • work particularly with children and young people of varying ages and abilities in a variety of school and community contexts
  • to initiate, manage and deliver dance activities within school and community contexts

In both school and community contexts artists/practitioners will engage in the development of dance for all. The Dance Education programme is studied over three years full time. All modules have a practical as well as theoretical component and include the following; Dance Pedagogy, Technique and Style, Choreography, Dance Science, Dance in Society, Dance Research, Repertoire and Professional practice.

Tel: 01227 782 900

Laban Centre, London
MA Creative Practice: Dance Professional Practice Pathway
A fully accredited vocational training in community dance that can be done over one year full-time or two years part-time. Acceptance onto the programme does not necessarily require you to have a first degree - equivalent undergraduate qualifications or experience are considered. Compulsory modules focus on building essential skills and knowledge for community dance practice: dance technique, choreography, teaching dance, and contextual studies in community dance and dance in education. Elective modules are selected from a wide range of options including the following areas of study: contextual studies, education and community practice, health and fitness, Laban studies and performance studies. An important aspect of the programme is the work placement in a community setting.

Tel: 020 8691 8600

University of Lincoln
BA (Hons) Dance
This programme blends the theoretical and historical academic study of dance with practical and creative areas of technique, notation, choreography and production. The course is offered in conjunction with Lincolnshire Dance, enabling Sstudents go on to link their academic and practical study to outside, community-based dance projects in order to experience how dance functions as a creative enterprise in the twenty-first century.

Tel: 01522 886097

Liverpool John Moores University
BA (Hons) Dance Practices
All students undertake the same areas of study Year 1: technique, anatomy and safe practice, choreography, performance, historical/contextual studies, dance teaching, self-management, planning and teamwork. From Year 2, students can opt to specialise on the community and education pathway, where in addition to core dance studies they will study project planning, leadership and dance management, teaching in education/community settings and contextual issues in community dance. Students undertake substantial work placements in Years 2 and 3.

Tel: 0151 231 5090

Middlesex University
BA (Hons) Dance Studies Degree
This programme places emphasis on experience of ‘real’ community dance practice via two placements with companies/venues/organisations and visits to various community groups. Year 1: technique, anatomy, choreography, performance, dance and technology, dance history,community dance, Arts in London. Year 2: technique, choreography, jazz, dance history, jazz dance choreography/T’ai Chi, choreography in the community, critical studies, cultural diversity, admin placement. Year 3: choreography, independent project, teaching dance technique, community dance, dance in society.

Tel: 020 8411 5555

University of Suffolk
BA(Hons) Dance in the Community Programme Specification
Working with experienced resident and visiting practitioners, this course builds and develops through a series of progressive models that deal with the study of dance as a discipline and its relationship with community practice. Programmes of study will include:

  • Dance composition
  • Anatomy, Physiology and Nutrition
  • Dance Techniques
  • Managing Projects
  • Facilitating Creativity
  • Cultural and Critical Theory
  • Professional Practice
  • Professional Placements in Community Contexts
  • Business Management and Marketing

Tel: 01473 338 000

University of Surrey
BA (Hons) Dance Studies and Culture
Offered as either a three-year or a four-year programme. The four-year programme (which includes a placement in Year 3) is designed for those already motivated towards a specific dance career e.g. community dance. Students can specialise from Level Two onwards with modules in leading dance, managing dance and a professional project. In their Professional Year students are required either to enrol for a professional award at a suitable level or engage in a supervised work placement with a dance organisation. On their return, at Level 3, they resume studies and can select options, such as popular dance and professional investigation, which enable continued focus on their chosen specialism.

Tel: 01483 686509
Email: (Head of Department)

University of Teesside
BA (Hons) Dance
This practice-based degree is designed for graduates aiming to work within the broad field of the dance industry. It recognizes the need for versatile graduates with a knowledge and understanding of the contexts in which they will work, experience of a wide range of styles and disciplines, and a familiarity with the facilitation skills required to work with different groups and sections of society. The practical study of dance is coupled with a knowledge of different traditions and uses of dance, and an understanding of dance's place in society.

Modules include: Dance Technique, Fundamentals of Choreography, Dance in Education, Dance Science, Dance Contextual Studies, Dance in Performance, Dance Facilitation, Dance and Camera, Dance Management, Professional Performance practice.

Tel: 01642 384019

University of Worcester
BA (Hons) Dance and Community Practice
This unique degree offers students the chance to develop their personal dance practice in a highly vocational way.

This course encourages students to become creative and reflective practitioners, fully equipped to work within performance, educational and community settings. You will develop your dance skills, especially within contemporary dance, alongside hands-on experience of choreographic practice. You will have amazing opportunities to work alongside active dance professionals and with a diverse set of community groups, especially within educational contexts.

BA (Hons) Physical Education and Dance
This unique degree offers students the chance to study PE whilst maintaining a strong emphasis on dance. This course is ideal for anyone who wants to work within Physical Education as a Dance specialist.

PE practitioners with expertise in dance are increasingly rare and this course aims to support learners who would view dance as their primary sport. Combining the best aspects of the physical education course with the brand new Dance and Community Practice degree, this combined course is perfect for those wishing to maintain and develop their dance skills as well as understand how dance fits into the physical education agenda.


York St John University
BA (Hons) Dance: Community Practice

After completing a range of practical and theoretical modules at level one including Devising Performance, Dance in Context and Critiquing the Arts, all level two students take part in an Introduction to Community Dance Practice. This module offers a comprehensive foundation in current approaches to making and facilitating dance within community and education settings. It is also a chance to gain practical experience on placements in their chosen field. Strong working relationships with Dance United, Jabadao, Henshaws, Yorkshire Dance and Converge York ensure students are offered a diverse range of placement opportunities supervised by experienced tutors. At level three students can opt to take the specialist pathway into community practice that includes a year long placement and workshops with visiting specialists such as Cecilia MacFarlane, Diane Amans and Miranda Tufnell. Student projects have taken place with a variety of groups including:

  • Early Years Settings
  • Residential Homes
  • Over 50s Groups
  • Hospitals (stroke rehabilitation, dementia)
  • Mental Health Service Users
  • Schools (primary, secondary, FE, special needs)
  • Sensory Impairment Centres
  • Children and Young People at Risk
  • Exclusion Units

Tel: 01904 624624

The following courses offer the possibility of significant study of community dance through several modules on the degree:

University of Bedfordshire
BA (Hons) Dance and Professional Practice
This course emphasizes learning through practice. The Leadership in Dance strand develops your ability to create, manage and deliver dance-based projects through teaching and workshop leading. In Year 3 University Dance Company gives opportunity to gain experience in delivery of outreach and education programmes.

Tel: 01234 793 279

Coventry University
BA (Hons) Dance Making and Performance
Alongside studying contemporary dance technique, students’ teaching skills are developed with the emphasis on examining dance in a community context. In Year 3 a collaborative project gives further opportunity to explore community work.

Tel: 02476 790 790

University of Derby
BA (Hons) Creative Expressive Therapies (Dance, Drama, Music, Art)
Throughout the three years, students combine study in one arts specialism (art, dance and movement, drama or music) with integrative arts approaches and therapeutic theories applicable to a variety of settings including community, education and therapy.

Tel: 01332 591167

University of East London
BA (Hons) Dance: Urban Practices
Year 1 covers community and urban studies, performance, collaboration and improvisation, and arts administration. Year 2 includes production, composition and performance, arts education and policy and a project in a community setting. Year 3 includes an extended placement with an arts/community organisation.

Tel: 020 8223 3333

Sunderland University
BA (Hons) Dance
The course concentrates on dance as a performing art. One module in both levels two and three focus on art in the community, when you will have the opportunity to take part in community projects.

Tel: 0191 515 2000

Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC)
BA (Hons) Dance
The course content is focused through two key concepts:
• Making and Presenting Dance - technique, choreography and performance
• The Dance Infrastructure - dance culture (historical and critical appreciation), dance systems (management, administration policy and politics), dance context (dance theatre, community dance and dance education)

Tel: 029 2041 6044

Queen Margaret University Edinburgh

MSc Dance Movement Psychotherapy
A unique programme that offers academic and professional qualifications for people interested in the therapeutic use of dance and movement.
People graduating from this programme will receive license to practice as dance movement pyschotherapists and opportunities to work with a wide range of vulnerable populations (children, adults and older people) in a range of settings.

Tel: 0131 474 0000

The following courses explicitly offer at least one module on community dance, though there may be other areas of the course where community dance is featured:

Bath Spa University
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 01225 875 444

University of Chester
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 01244 511528

University of Chichester
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 01243 816000

De Montfort University, Leicester
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 08459 454647

Leicester College
Performance (Dance) Foundation Degree
Tel: 0116 224 2240

Liverpool Hope University
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 0151 291 3295

London Metropolitan University
BSc (Hons) Sports and Dance Therapy
Tel: 0207 133 4200

Manchester Metropolitan University
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 0161 247 2000

Roehampton University, London
BA (Hons) Dance Studies
Tel: 020 8392 3232

University of Wolverhampton
BA (Hons) Dance
Tel: 01902 322222

If you are interested in studying community dance within a broader context of community arts, arts management, social justice etc. then you may wish to search for Joint Honours degree courses which offer the opportunity to study dance in combination with another subject, such as Dance and Movement Studies at the University of Derby.

If you are aware of any HE institutions offering community dance that are not listed here, or if this information needs updating, please email