UCC | School of Performing Arts


School of Performing Arts

Welcome to the UCC School of Performing Arts.

Your future success as a confident performer or theatre technician is central to our programmes.

We will provide you with the capacity to be adaptive, reflective and ultimately a success in your chosen career.

The School of Performing Arts is an active partner with many arts organisations in and around Essex, working in partnership with the Mercury Theatre, the Headgate Theatre and the Dance Network Association. Industry agents and West End performers are regularly invited to help develop confidence (and professional connections), and refine your skills so you stand out and flourish in the competitive creative world.

Our illustrious alumni are making waves in the industry and we look forward to the day you will do the same.

Phil Toms, Head of School

Courses Offered

BA (Hons)Musical Theatre


Matthew Morgan-Stevens is a Lecturer in Acting. Matthew combines his lecturing work with freelance work in the industry as freelance director/assistant director. Recent work includes: Rugby World Cup Skits (London Quest Company); Tom Allen - Life/Style (Assembly Rooms) and Living History (East 15 Acting School).

Matthew has a passion for theatre that has a message; that connects with an audience and makes people question their own actions and beliefs. He is a great believer in the art of ‘play’ within performance, drawing influence from practitioners such as John Wright and Philippe Gaulier.

Matthew continues to have direct links with the performing arts industry and brings this knowledge in to the rehearsal room with the students.

Read staff profile


Simon Warne is Course Leader and Lecturer in Musical Theatre. He is the musical director of college choral groups, showcases and other course productions. Before joining University Centre Colchester, Simon combined his role as a lay clerk at Chelmsford Cathedral with working for Essex Music Services’ choral development and peripatetic singing team.

Simon is an experienced choral director and workshop leader, who works with a diverse range of advanced, and community based choirs including regular direction of the Essex County Youth Choirs.

He now combines his knowledge of traditional choral music with an in depth understanding of voice and physiology, through his wide experience of the Estill Model.

Read staff profile


Nova Hughes is a lecturer in Musical Theatre and tutor in Voice. Nova teaches teaches modules/skills in Singing; Voice and Physiology; Acting in Musical Theatre; Accents; Rehearsing and Performance Skills.

Nova has taught Singing and Voice at Urdang Academy in London and at the University of Venice. Nova is a certified master teacher of Estill Voice Training (EMT/CMT) and a certified fitness instructor (YMCA).

After graduating from Mountview, Nova worked in London’s West End for three years. She then successfully auditioned for Celebrity Cruises and continued to work for this company for five years as a production singer and then on the yachts of Seabourn for three years.

Read staff profile


Hazel Banham is a lecturer in Dance and teaches the following modules/skills: Ballet; Jazz. Hazel has extensive experience of dance education, ranging from primary to university, and has also delivered educational and community outreach projects, involving dance.

During her time as professional performer, Hazel performed all around the globe for a variety of companies, and in a number of roles.

Hazel worked as company manager, dance captain, singer-dancer and dancer on encompassed cruise lines, international tours, casinos and music videos. These include Marques Productions, Belinda King Presents, Costa Crusie Lines, Crystal Cruises, P&O, Jean Ann Ryan Productions, Showstoppers Worldwide, Showbizworks.com and Raymond Gubby Presents.

Read staff profile


Dr Mark Pulman is a lecturer in Music and Performing Arts, teaching modules: in Critical Studies in Musical Theatre; Musicianship and Music Teaching in Practice. Mark also works as an accompanist for auditions and performances.

Mark is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and an Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM). He is also a former Head of Music in three secondary schools.

His professional life encompasses both popular and classical music performance, and music education. Mark has substantial industry experience with various music companies at senior levels, including Novello & Co Ltd, Warner/Chappell Music, Hal Leonard (USA), and Spartan Press.

Read staff profile


Phil Toms is the Head of Schools for Digital Media, Music & Performing Arts. A versatile musician and dedicated educator, Phil contributes to a range of academic programmes, live performances and student auditions.

After completing his studies, Phil, started a freelance career in instrumental and classroom music teaching. In 2006, Phil joined the School of Music at Colchester Institute teaching a variety of degree modules in Music Education. Following the formation of University Centre Colchester (UCC), Phil was appointed to his current post.

Phil has an eclectic musical background from classical music & jazz to prog-folk. Phil is also the film critic for BBC Essex, appearing on radio on a weekly basis.

Read staff profile


Rachel James is Assistant Head of Schools for Digital Media, Music and Performing Arts. In addition to her administrative responsibilities as Assis-tant Head of School, Rachel lectures in music, film mu-sic, composition, arranging, musical direction and music education.

Rachel has a broad background in teaching, having taught for over 17 years in various establishments. Rachel has taught undergradaute and postgraduate students, as well as guest lectured in Sixth Form colleges and various universities.

At the heart of Rachel’s creative output is a focus on composition. She has worked with EMMY nominated composer Guy Michelmore in West Sussex and is now based in Essex. Rachel has composed music for several feature films, including, Little Happiness, which was nom-inated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the Orange Golden Film Awards. Orchestrations include video game James Bond: Goldeneye.

Read staff profile

Matthew Morgan-Stevens

Matthew Morgan-Stevens is a Lecturer in Acting. Matthew combines his lecturing work with freelance work in the industry as freelance director/assistant director. Recent work includes: Rugby World Cup Skits (London Quest Company); Tom Allen – Life/Style (Assembly Rooms) and Living History (East 15 Acting School).

Matthew has a passion for theatre that has a message; that connects with an audience and makes people question their own actions and beliefs. He is a great believer in the art of ‘play’ within performance, drawing influence from practitioners such as John Wright and Philippe Gaulier.

Matthew continues to have direct links with the performing arts industry and brings this knowledge in to the rehearsal room with the students.

Read staff profile

Simon Warne

Simon Warne is Course Leader and Lecturer in Musical Theatre. He is the musical director of college choral groups, showcases and other course productions. Before joining University Centre Colchester, Simon combined his role as a lay clerk at Chelmsford Cathedral with working for Essex Music Services’ choral development and peripatetic singing team.

Simon is an experienced choral director and workshop leader, who works with a diverse range of advanced, and community based choirs including regular direction of the Essex County Youth Choirs.

He now combines his knowledge of traditional choral music with an in depth understanding of voice and physiology, through his wide experience of the Estill Model.

Read staff profile

Nova Hughes

Nova Hughes is a lecturer in Musical Theatre and tutor in Voice. Nova teaches teaches modules/skills in Singing; Voice and Physiology; Acting in Musical Theatre; Accents; Rehearsing and Performance Skills.

Nova has taught Singing and Voice at Urdang Academy in London and at the University of Venice. Nova is a certified master teacher of Estill Voice Training (EMT/CMT) and a certified fitness instructor (YMCA).

After graduating from Mountview, Nova worked in London’s West End for three years. She then successfully auditioned for Celebrity Cruises and continued to work for this company for five years as a production singer and then on the yachts of Seabourn for three years.

Read staff profile

Hazel Banham

Hazel Banham is a lecturer in Dance and teaches the following modules/skills: Ballet; Jazz. Hazel has extensive experience of dance education, ranging from primary to university, and has also delivered educational and community outreach projects, involving dance.

During her time as professional performer, Hazel performed all around the globe for a variety of companies, and in a number of roles.

Hazel worked as company manager, dance captain, singer-dancer and dancer on encompassed cruise lines, international tours, casinos and music videos. These include Marques Productions, Belinda King Presents, Costa Crusie Lines, Crystal Cruises, P&O, Jean Ann Ryan Productions, Showstoppers Worldwide, Showbizworks.com and Raymond Gubby Presents.

Read staff profile

Mark Pulman

Dr Mark Pulman is a lecturer in Music and Performing Arts, teaching modules: in Critical Studies in Musical Theatre; Musicianship and Music Teaching in Practice. Mark also works as an accompanist for auditions and performances.

Mark is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and an Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM). He is also a former Head of Music in three secondary schools.

His professional life encompasses both popular and classical music performance, and music education. Mark has substantial industry experience with various music companies at senior levels, including Novello & Co Ltd, Warner/Chappell Music, Hal Leonard (USA), and Spartan Press.

Read staff profile

Phil Toms

Phil Toms is the Head of Schools for Digital Media, Music & Performing Arts. A versatile musician and dedicated educator, Phil contributes to a range of academic programmes, live performances and student auditions.

After completing his studies, Phil, started a freelance career in instrumental and classroom music teaching. In 2006, Phil joined the School of Music at Colchester Institute teaching a variety of degree modules in Music Education. Following the formation of University Centre Colchester (UCC), Phil was appointed to his current post.

Phil has an eclectic musical background from classical music & jazz to prog-folk. Phil is also the film critic for BBC Essex, appearing on radio on a weekly basis.

Read staff profile

Rachel James

Rachel James is Assistant Head of Schools for Digital Media, Music and Performing Arts. In addition to her administrative responsibilities as Assis-tant Head of School, Rachel lectures in music, film mu-sic, composition, arranging, musical direction and music education.

Rachel has a broad background in teaching, having taught for over 17 years in various establishments. Rachel has taught undergradaute and postgraduate students, as well as guest lectured in Sixth Form colleges and various universities.

At the heart of Rachel’s creative output is a focus on composition. She has worked with EMMY nominated composer Guy Michelmore in West Sussex and is now based in Essex. Rachel has composed music for several feature films, including, Little Happiness, which was nom-inated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the Orange Golden Film Awards. Orchestrations include video game James Bond: Goldeneye.

Read staff profile

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David Michael Hands, BA (Hons) Musical Theatre alumni starring in Jersey Boys (International Tour, 2018)

"Just over a year from graduating, I feel so blessed with the opportunities that I’ve been given. If I hadn’t gone to UCC, I don’t think I’d be where I am today."

Karis Jack, BA (Hons) Musical Theatre graduate starring as Éponine in Les Misérables (West End, 2018)

"The feeling as I came off stage was incredible. It was as if everything I had worked for all those years at my drama school and at University Centre Colchester was being presented to me before my very eyes."

September Mead, BA (Hons) Creative Performance (Acting) alumni

"Learning how to devise our own work was exciting and fun. We also had the opportunity to work with external directors and practitioners, enabling me to learn a lot from talented industry professionals...Another huge aspect was that we got to perform our shows at many different venues including the Lakeside Theatre at the University of Essex, The Etcetera theatre in Camden and Brighton Fringe Festival!"

Katy Cirne, BA (Hons) Technical Theatre graduate

"During my studies at UCC, I was able to apply my practical skills whilst on work placement. After graduating I was immediately employed as a Junior Technician. I now enjoy working alongside other UCC students and graduates."