What is the Conference of Drama Schools?

The Conference of Drama Schools is an organisation in the United Kingdom which comprises Britain's 22 most well-respected and successful drama schools. Its existence was brought about as a way of monitoring training for actors, directors and technicians, and ensuring that vocational training at the institutions listed is of the highest possible standard. The CDS is committed to ensuring that prospective drama school students are fully aware of their options in terms of the range of training available, as well as the application and audition process.

The Conference of Drama Schools was founded in 1969 and its member schools specialise in course covering: Acting, Musical Theatre, Directing and Technical Theatre training (including design). Graduates enjoy a high success rate and many spend their lives working in the entertainment industry in one role or another.

The courses offered are professional, intensive and work orientated. The teachers have professional experience and students are given the opportunity to work in a professional theatre environment. The courses are full-time and, although students work towards an academic qualification, the focus is very much on practicality and vocation. In other words, students are being trained to do a specific job in theatre, TV or film.

Actor(98169)Credit: Morguefile

Which schools are in the Conference of Drama Schools?

Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA)

ALRA was founded in 1979 and was the first drama school to offer a training which encompassed all media: Live Theatre, TV & Film and Radio. Even now, it is still the only institution to focus on both acting for camera and acting for the theatre throughout the three year and the post graduate programmes.

ALRA, Studio 24
Royal Victoria Patriotic Building
John Archer Way
London SW18 3SX

Email: sreid@alra.co.uk

Tel: 020 8870 6475

Arts Educational Schools, London

The Arts Educational School offers a rounded training in either Musical Theatre or Acting. Many graduates go straight into major West End and national theatre productions and musicals. More and more Arts Educational graduates can regularly be seen on TV and in British and International feature films
Famous alumni includes Julie Andrews, Charlie Brooks (Eastenders), Darcey Bussell, Martin Clunes, Nigel Harman and Nigel Havers.

Arts Educational Schools London

Cone Ripman House
14 Bath Road
W4 1LY

Tel: 020 8987 6666 

Birmingham School of Acting

Birmingham School of Acting is an exciting place to train, not only for the theatre, film and television, but also for related disciplines such as community and applied theatre, dance theatre, and stage management. The school boasts state-of-the-art studios which are second to none, and a constant buzz of creativity.

Birmingham School of Acting
Millennium Point
Curzon Street
B4 7XG

Tel: 0121 331 7220

Email: info@bsa.bcu.ac.uk

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School was opened in 1946 by Laurence Olivier as a training school for the Bristol Old Vic Company. Famous alumni Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Samantha Bond.

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

2 Downside Road



Email: enquiries@oldvic.ac.uk

Tel: 0117 973 3535

Central School of Speech and Drama

Central offers undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees in acting, music theatre, theatre practice, applied theatre, movement, voice, stage management, puppetry, scenography, sound design, theatre design, drama therapy and drama and media studies teacher training.

Central School of Speech & Drama

Eton Avenue



Tel:  020 7722 8183

Guildford School of Acting (GSA)

GSA boasts famous graduates such as Tom Chambers,Brenda Blethyn OBE, Bill Nighy, Michael Ball, Celia Imrie, Chris Geere, Ellie Paskell, Claire Cooper, Rob Kazinsky, Ian Kelsey, Justin Fletcher, MBE, Isy Suttie, Daniel Boys, Helena Blackman and many more. Almost every West End show features performers who trained at GSA.

Guildford School of Acting
Stag Hill Campus
Guildford Surrey

Tel: 01483 684040

Email: gsaenquiries@gsa.surrey.ac.uk

Cygnet Training Theatre

Cygnet Training Theatre is unique amongst the Conference of Drama Schools. It is made up of actors mostly between the ages of 18-35 who train and work as a professional ensemble to develop their skills over a three year period.

Cygnet New Theatre

Friars Gate




Tel: 01392 277189

Email: info@cygnetnewtheatre.com

Drama Centre, London

Drama Centre London is part of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and provides an international outlook, a central London location and excellent learning and performance facilities.

Email: c4padmissions@csm.arts.ac.uk 

Tel: 020 7514 8769

Drama Studio, London

Drama Sudio is the only member of the Conference of Drama Schools not to offer a degree course but focuses instead on a vocational training. Their one year course is the only accredited one year course in the UK.

Drama Studio London
Grange Court
1 Grange Road
W5 5QN

Tel: 020 8579 3897

Email: admin@dramastudiolondon.co.uk

East 15

"The contribution of East 15 actors to the British theatre, television, and film over the past decades has been immense. Several generations of brilliant young actors and actresses have come out of this highly original conservatoire" Mike Leigh, film director.

East 15 Acting School
Rectory Lane
IG10 3RY, UK

Tel: 020 8508 5983

Email: east15@essex.ac.uk

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

The Drama Department at the Guildhall School of Musica and Drama provides and intimate and supportive atmosphere for its students. The school is highly regarded in the acting profession for the thoroughness of its audition processes, and the passion, quality and rigour of the teaching.

Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Silk Street



Tel: 020 7628 2571

Email: drama@gsmd.ac.uk

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

The focus of Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts is giving their graduates a commercial edge, making the BA (Hons) Acting programme unique. The course emphasises professional development and employability and nurtures self-awareness. They encourage their students to become creative entrepreneurs characterised by their imagination, flexibility and determination.

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts Ltd
72 Landor Road
Clapham North

Tel: 020 7733 3210

Email: acting@lsbu.ac.uk

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA)

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts opened in 1996 pioneering a new approach to performing arts training. It was co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney and is housed in his old school.
LIPA offers a nique training in specialist and generic skills.

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Mount Street


L1 9HF

Tel: 0151 330 3000

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)

LAMDA is an independent drama school, and specialises in the training of actors, stage managers and technicians, directors and designers and aims to offer the best opportunities in theatre, film, radio and TV.

155 Talgarth Road
W14 9DA

Tel: 08834 0500

Email: enquiries@lamda.org.uk

Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre

The Manchester School of Theatre at the Manchester Metropolitan University has a unparalelled reputation for preparing students for careers as professional actors. Graduates are enjoying careers in all of the major theatre, film and TV companies.

Manchester School of Theatre
Manchester Metropolitan University
Mabel Tylecote Building
Cavendish Street
M15 6BG

Tel: 0161 247 1751

Email: artdes.fac@mmu.ac.uk

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts is one of the UK’s leading drama schools and strives for excellence in education and training. The courses are designed to give students a thorough grounding in all aspects of their chosen field.

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

Ralph Richardson Memorial Studio

Kingfisher Place

Clarendon Road

N22 6XF

Tel: 020 8881 2201

Email: enquiries@mountview.org.uk

The Oxford School of Drama

The Oxford School of Drama is the youngest of the accredited Conference of Drama Schools and the school is dedicated to being truly vocational, believing that a top school equals top jobs and that being small is what makes it special.

The Oxford School of Drama

Sansomes Farm Studios


OX20 1ER

Tel: 01993 812883

Email: info@oxforddrama.ac.uk

Rose Bruford College

Rose Bruford's staff are of the highest quality, and boast a balance of expertise in education and professional practice. Drawn from professional theatre, film and television, the music industry and other complementary professions, teachers provide graduates with a direct link to professional performing arts.

Rose Bruford College

Lamorbey Park

Burnt Oak Lane



DA15 9DF

Tel: 020 8308 2600

Email: enquiries@bruford.ac.uk 

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) was a founding member of the Conference of Drama Schools and offers vocational training for actors, stage managers, directors, designers and technical stage craft specialists. RADA has built an outstanding reputation as a world-renowned centre of excellence.

62 - 64 Gower Street 

Tel: 020 7636 7076

Email: enquiries@rada.ac.uk

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The Royal Conservatoire is part of the new-model conservatoires. Students flourish as knowledgeable and confident individuals and are encouraged to generate truly innovative work. Focus is on intensive tuition, professional partnerships and performances.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
100 Renfrew Street
G2 3DB

Tel: 0141 332 4101

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the National Conservatoire of Wales, educates some of the most talented students from around the world. It aims to give them not just the technical skills needed to succeed at the top levels of the performing arts profession, but also nurtures their individual artistic ‘voice.’

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Castle Grounds

Cathays Park


CF10 3ER

Tel: 029 2034 2854

Email: admissions@rwcmd.ac.uk

Other articles of interest:

How to Prepare an Auditon Speech

Selecting the Right Audition Speech to Get Into Drama School

Presenting a Audition Speech on the Day