Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Student profile
Alex Barnes

Drama and Theatre BA

Alex is in the final year of his Drama and Theatre degree.

What attracted you to Kent?

I liked that the course was both theoretical and practical and was impressed by the wide choice of modules. I came to an Open Day and liked the community feel of the campus and the amazing view from the University down to the cathedral.

How is the course going?

In the first year, you take two compulsory modules. They are a good mix of practice and theory. Your understanding of a whole range of drama practitioners develops and your confidence in your ability to create your own work grows. It’s a really good foundation for the rest of your studies.

In your second and third years, you choose your own modules. In my second year, I took a module called Victorian and Edwardian Theatre. We were able to use Kent’s unique archive to create an exhibition, which we mounted in the Gulbenkian. We focused on women in plays and how they were presented during that time – it was a fantastic experience, not just learning about the subject but also thinking of how best to present it in the exhibition.

This year, I took an applied theatre module, which involved working with children with disabilities in a local primary school. We went in weekly and created huge environments in their classroom, Antarctica or a forest, so that they could follow a narrative using all their senses. It was very rewarding to see the effect our work had on them.

What about the lecturers?

Their lectures are very engaging and they listen to your ideas and help you to expand on them. They make time for you and are very supportive.

And your fellow students?

It’s a big course but, even so, you get to know everyone well. We often work in teams; the work is very enjoyable but can also be quite intense so you do forge a great alliance with your classmates. As the course progresses, the strength of those relationships grows and that all adds to your enjoyment of the programme.

What do you think of the academic facilities?

The Jarman Building is the hub of the School of Arts where everyone can mingle and chat; it has a real community feel. We also have a workshop where you can make sets and props. I am normally rubbish at the technical side of things but the guy who runs the workshop is very helpful and you learn to use your imagination to get the best out of the materials you have.

And the social facilities?

There are various restaurants and cafés, a couple of good bars and a nightclub. There are lots of places to go and the campus shop is useful. The city of Canterbury is lovely too; quite compact with good shopping options and obviously the cathedral is amazing. I think Canterbury looks quite old-fashioned – it looks the way a university town should. It’s gorgeous at Christmas.

What next?

On this degree, you gain lots of skills that are useful for any career: teamwork, leadership, presentation skills and communication skills. Your confidence in your ability to present ideas improves and ultimately you become a lot more creative. I definitely want to use the skills and knowledge I have gained and perhaps work as an applied practitioner. That would give me the option of working with all sorts of people, the elderly, schoolchildren, prisoners – I would enjoy taking drama into the community to help people with specific problems. At a later date I may do a Master’s.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Make sure the course is right for you – I think you have to go with your gut instinct. The biggest change is not living at home and you can feel pressure to meet people and make friends. In the end though, it will be alright; you do make friends quite easily because there are lots of opportunities to mix and get to know people. I have had a great time at Kent and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.