Diploma in Performing Arts, Sunway University, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

The Diploma in Performing Arts programme aims to nurture well-rounded and versatile creative individuals by giving them a rigorous, 360° education and training in the fundamentals of performance and audio-visual production.

The two-in-one programme attracts young people with interests such as performing, directing, editing, writing, and back-stage and production work, because it covers all these areas, and more, over 2½ years. Through practical hands-on and academic classes, students are exposed to new ideas, skills and knowledge. They acquire new abilities while developing their existing ones. Their learning is continuous and active with platforms being given along the programme for them to try out and apply skills and knowledge as they learn them.

It is a demanding programme that requires its students to practise professional behaviours regarding punctuality, deadlines, integrity and teamwork. Students who successfully complete the programme can start to work, usually in career-entry positions in a field of their choice. Those who want to further their education can do so by transferring to a degree programme, usually to one of our partner universities in Australia where they can enter straight into the third year of a degree programme in drama or film.

While the Diploma in Performing Arts can open the door to a bright future, it is only the starting point to a long career for our students. Creativity researchers have come up with what they call the “10-year rule” which indicates that no truly great creative contributions can come without at least 10 years of intense effort and preparation. Therefore to give them a head-start, our students are taught by a dynamic team of established theatre and film practitioners and academics. Besides sharing their well-seasoned skills and knowledge with students, they also provide invaluable networking and artistic and professional insights.

The medium of instruction is English. Classes are small, enabling students to grow and develop as individuals, creators and thinkers.

On completion of their studies, which include internship attachment, students can choose to work in the creative industries or go for higher education. Those who wish to further their studies in theatre, film or a related field can apply to a university of their choice locally or abroad, or make use of the credit transfer arrangements with three reputable universities in Australia and Canada.

Special features:

  • Covers two fields. Students get a solid foundation in all aspects of theatre and filmmaking
  • Offers a wide range of classes, including performing, directing, design, management, scriptwriting, filmmaking using professional video cameras and editing equipment, theory and history.
  • Gives an all-round 360° experience: on-stage, behind-the-scenes, in front of the camera, behind the camera.
  • Opens up career options. Graduates able to work in theatre, film and related industries. Internship attachment is included for this purpose.
  • Opens up study options. Graduates able to transfer to degree courses to study theatre, film and related fields. Sunway University has made transfer agreements with three universities abroad for credit waivers.
  • Provides up-to-date and well-maintained facilities.
  • Is taught by an excellent team of lecturers who are research-active academics and practising filmmakers and theatre-makers, all highly regarded by their peers. They also connect students to the creative industries where they work.

Programme Structure

Year 1

Video Tools
How to use the tools of digital video production and post-production – camera, lighting, sound and editing equipment.

Media & Communication
Covers the human faculties of perception, cognition and sign systems, and the electronic analogue and digital information technologies.

Acting & Improvisation
Teaches basic acting skills for the actor, including improvisation and analysis.

Stage Management
Covers the knowledge, practical skills and management techniques needed to run a theatrical production.

Theatre Theory, History & Practice
Introduces essential terms and concepts needed to understand and appreciate the theatre’s unique functions and qualities.

Thought & Writing
Teaches essay-writing skills and related skills in reading and critical thinking. An essential subject needed for reading and writing for other subjects in the curriculum.

Cinema, Modernity & Montage
Looks at early development of cinema, covers early 20th Century films.

Sound & Image
Introduces the basics of filmmaking, resulting in a short original video.

Acting & Characterisation
Teaches the know-how to approach and perform a character. A foundational subject for both stage and screen acting.

Script Analysis
Teaches a systematic approach to reading and analyzing a script, for the actor, director and designer.

Play & Screen Writing
Covers all the stages involved in the process of writing a short stage play and screenplay, from germinating ideas to the gathering of material for writing, developing synopses and treatments, writing drafts, readings and critiques, re-writing, formatting and formal submissions.

Theatre Project
Led by a lecturer-director, students create a theatrical production and perform it for a public audience by using minimal technical resources.

Traditional Malaysian Theatre
The theory component covers the different types of traditional performing arts which are found in Malaysia, while the practical component provides performance training in one of these forms.

Year 2

Acting & Text 1
Requires students to call on skills already learnt, such as script analysis, locating character’s objectives, and interaction with other characters in a scene. Relevant to stage and screen acting.

Production Design
Introduces the theory, techniques and elements of stage production design – set, costumes, lighting and sound. Relevant to screen production design.

Modern Theatre
Looks at the beginnings of modern drama and theatre in Europe and traces their development to present-day Europe and Asia.

World Cinema
Covers modern cinema from mid-20th Century to the present, including the rise of the auteur and post-colonial and post-modern concerns with ethnic and national identity, the family, gender, and sexuality.

Performance Studies
Expands the focus on stage and screen performance to include ritual, play, games, the formation of social and digital networks and organisations, and the great variety of behaviours and performances of daily life, among humans and other species.

Stage Directing
Covers the history, theories and principles of stage directing. A foundational subject for stage and screen directing.

Music & Dance for Actors
Introduces performance in musical theatre.

Audio-Video Post-Production 1
Introduces editing on Final Cut Pro system – equipment, running platforms, components, specifications, capabilities, methods used for different programmes, and audio/graphics/effects capabilities. This is a technical course.

Audio-Video Post-Production 2
Provides additional technical training in the Final Cut Pro and introduces audio production and post-production and its integration into the advanced video post-production environment.

Acting & Directing For The Camera
Teaches acting and directing for film and television.

Career Management
Taught by professionals in the field who impart up-to-date information and skills required for a career in theatre, film and television.

Year 3

Industrial Internship Attachment
Requires students to attach themselves for a period of 12 weeks to companies involved in film production, television production, theatre, or other related fields.

Final-Year Projects
Senior students are required to produce and create two stage and screen projects, including arranging for a public staging or screening of their works.

Degree Transfer

Students who wish to go for further education can transfer to a degree course overseas after getting their Diploma in Performing Arts. Hundreds of universities in the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the performing arts field.

We have formal agreements with reputable institutions abroad for transfer to a first-degree course with credit waivers of 2 years:

  • Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama), Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Bachelor of Film and Digital Media, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Bachelor of Contemporary Arts, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dramatic Arts), University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Career Prospects

It takes desire, talent, and persistence. It also requires that practitioners to find work in a regional, global job market that extends beyond the borders of any one country.

To this end, the Department of Performance + Media crosses borders in both scope and outlook. We connect with artists and employers not only in Malaysia but throughout ASEAN and beyond. We attract a regional student body so students will form networks that will pay off in the future.

The abilities acquired in this course prepare the students for jobs in many occupations other than the performing arts. Having learned communication skills, critical thinking, and the ability to work creatively, independently and also collaboratively, students graduate with marketable skills.

Virtually any profession which involves people skills, problem-solving, and/or an element of performance offers employment opportunities for the graduates. They include public relations, sales, politics, marketing, journalism and management.


  • Actor
  • Stage manager
  • Producer
  • Production crew
  • Production assistant
  • Director
  • Educator
  • Administrator

Film & Television:

  • Actor
  • Production assistant
  • Editor
  • Assistant producer
  • Administrator
  • Line producer

Media & Advertising:

  • Voice-over talent
  • Commercial actor
  • Administrator
  • Production assistant
  • Editor
  • Event Management

The places of internship attachment give a good indication of the potential employment out there in the creative industries. Our students have interned at these companies and institutions:


  • Arts ED (Arts Education Programs for Young People)
  • Dama Orchestra
  • Dramalab
  • Five Arts Centre
  • Gardner and Wife Theatre
  • Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)
  • The Instant Café Theatre Company

Film & Television:

  • Diversified Design Media Consult
  • Kino-i
  • Red Communications
  • Runningscript

Media & Advertising:

  • AIC Exhibitions
  • Kleo N Tony
  • Cosmo Talents
  • Kakiseni.com
  • Penang Office for Human Development

Single Intake
March 2011

Entry Requirements
Pass SPM, UEC, O-Level, or equivalent, with 3 credits, including a distinction or strong credit in English

2½ years

Medium of Instruction

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Sunway University Contact Details

Sunway University
No. 5, Jalan Universiti,
Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia.

Phone: +6(03)7491 8622
Fax: +6(03)5635 8630

Email: info@sunway.edu.my
Website: http://sunway.edu.my/