CertHE Contemporary Urban Dance - Northern School of Contemporary Dance


Type: Higher Education

Qualification: Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) Contemporary Urban Dance

Duration: 1 year (full-time) September - July

The Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) in Contemporary Urban Dance is specifically designed to prepare a diverse range of dance artists for further in-depth professional training in Higher Education.

The course enables students to explore a breadth of dance styles which form close connections to popular and youth culture, communities and cities.  Through its diverse curriculum, students encounter the voices of past generations, connect to the stories and migration of people and understand the impact these have had in shaping our global society.

The programme provides an insight into three year full-time undergraduate study. Our CertHE programmes have an excellent record for helping students to access Conservatoires and Higher education institutions. 98% of students who completed this level of programme in 2018 have progressed to further dance training, either at NSCD, another conservatoire or other university

Apply by: Sunday 31 May 2020

Download Course Fact File How to apply

Course overview

Students on this course engage with a range of technical, creative and performance experiences. In a practical way, students examine the role of a number of urban dance styles in telling the stories of individuals, communities and regions.  Students study a variety of different styles such as African and Caribbean Carnival dance, House, Street and Hip Hop (including popping, locking, breaking/BBoy, krumping) and Vogue. Techniques including Contemporary and Ballet enrich the urban focus, so that students can develop their own unique movement language and so tell their own stories in both theatre and other social contexts.

Please note: this course is suited to individuals who need more time to develop their technique and creative skills within a breadth of styles in order to meet the criteria for entry onto degree programmes. It is also a recommended route for applicants who are looking for a one-year intensive programme of study, or are undecided as to whether they are ready to commit to three years full-time training.  This programme is also suitable for very talented 16-17 year olds as a full-time alternative access route to Higher Education.

Diverse dance styles

Contemporary Urban Dance focuses on four key elements:

  • Hip Hop
  • Vogue
  • African/Caribbean Carnival
  • Western Theatre Dance

Each is explored through cultural and social contexts, a variety of technique classes/workshops, creative practice and performance opportunities. Students study modules comprising urban dance styles, creative practice, Western theatre dance techniques, and performance projects.  Half of the programme is devoted to dance techniques to prepare the body, offering a foundation for creative and performance work, whilst creative practices include improvisation and freestyle, alongside structures and choreographic tools which cross over all four key elements.

All of the practical work is understood through historical, social, political, gender, cultural and racial contexts, adding background, meaning and discussion to the students’ and other professional works.

Entry requirements

Entry is through successful audition and interview. Additionally candidates should have normally gained four GCSE passes (grade C/4 or above), which must include English Language, and two A Level passes or a L3 BTEC National diploma or professional/vocational training at an appropriate level.

Exceptions are made for very talented 16 year olds & mature applicants. Equivalent qualifications may also be accepted depending on the strength of the grades achieved. Equivalent level overseas qualifications are also accepted. Further details can be obtained from admissions@nscd.ac.uk

Teaching and learning

You are taught through a combination of practical classes and workshops, lectures and seminars. Seminars and small group tutorials enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures in smaller groups. In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your academic tutors. You use industry-standard facilities throughout your course.

At Level 4 (as a guide) you typically have around 21 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 18 hours of practical classes or workshops
  • 1 hour of seminars / tutorials
  • 2 hours of lectures
  • 2 hours directed study

Assessment & Feedback

NSCD employs a wide variety of assessment methods including formative, continuous and summative assessment.

Assessment evidence is collected through:

  • Continuous and summative assessments in technique modules, creative and performance modules
  • Assessed rehearsal processes
  • Showings of performance, choreographic work, improvisation and movement research
  • Essay and / or written reflection
  • Individual and small group verbal presentations

Students receive ongoing feedback in practical classes and through the tutorial system in which professional and academic development are considered and evaluated.

Overall workload

The course operates on a modular basis.  Most modules count for either 15 or 30 academic credits.  Each credit taken equates to a total study time of around 10-20 hours.  Total study time includes scheduled teaching, independent study, directed study and assessment activity. Full-time students take modules worth 37-45 credits per term.  All students take a total of 120 credits for the CertHE as a whole.

NSCD value for money

Based on a comparison with other HE Dance programmes of the same price. We are devoted to the experience we give our students and to what we try to offer them as ‘value added’ for their course fees:

  • A full term extra of tuition (May-July) including classes, support and guidance
  • More access to practical work (both creative workshops and technique classes)


  • Enrichment classes are offered in the evening, some of which are free to NSCD students – these have included pointe work, fitness, men’s ballet vocabulary, yoga, percussion and lighting for dance
  • Visiting workshops with guest choreographers and companies
    ‘mock audition’ preparation for applying for further training.
  • Sponsored theatre visit
  • Health and well-being days
  • On-site injury intervention and support
  • Reduce priced theatre tickets and deals
  • On-site counselling service
  • Access to additional rehearsal spaces
  • Access to projects and research run by staff and our network of partner organisations