LAMDA granted full Degree Awarding Powers

LAMDA in West London
  • Leading drama school will be able to award its own degrees to students from August 2021.
  • The achievement completes LAMDA’s journey towards becoming a fully independent Higher Education provider, building on the academy’s long history and reputation.
  • Sarah Frankcom, Director of LAMDA commented that Degree Awarding Powers “gives us the flexibility to ensure all our training programmes respond to the industry and reflect what drama school training in the 21st century looks like.”

LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art), one of the country’s most prestigious drama schools, today  announced that they have been granted full Degree Awarding Powers. Students joining the academy on its full-time courses this academic year will have their qualifications awarded in LAMDA’s name for the first time.

Since its inception LAMDA has been recognised as a pioneer in its field and is now regarded as one of the world’s leading conservatoires, providing exceptional training to actors, directors and technicians. Graduates of LAMDA have gone on to have enduring and successful careers in the creative industries and beyond, with alumni including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ruth Wilson and David Oyelowo. Degree Awarding Powers recognises the quality of LAMDA’s training and will build on the drama school’s history and reputation.

Sarah Frankcom, Director of LAMDA said, “Achieving degree awarding powers is an incredibly important milestone for LAMDA as we look to the future and the continued evolution of drama schools.  Our new independence gives us the flexibility to ensure all our training programmes respond to the industry and reflect what drama school training in the 21st century looks like. This has never been more important than now as we see the industry adapting to the challenges and recovery from COVID-19. I’d like to thank the University of Kent, Office for Students and QAA for their support in this transition and we look forward to the opportunities DAP will bring the next generation of LAMDA students.”

LAMDA’s Student Presidents, Evangeline Beaven, Lucy Havard, Gusta Matthews and Saroja-Lily Ratnavel said, “This is such exciting news for LAMDA and future students. We’re all so proud to be a part of this community and such a respected institution, and we’re sure that incoming students will be thrilled to have their degrees awarded by LAMDA itself.”


Degree Awarding Powers marks the culmination of a five-year journey. LAMDA was previously a member of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD) and its degree qualifications were awarded by the University of Kent. LAMDA gained independence from the CDD in August 2018 after becoming the first institution to register as a Higher Education Provider with the Office for Students (OfS). In December 2018 LAMDA formally applied to OfS for full Degree Awarding Powers and underwent a lengthy period of rigorous scrutiny carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), culminating in a report completed in April 2020.  LAMDA is now one of the first institutions to be given full Degree Awarding Powers under the new system.
In order to be granted full Degree Awarding Powers, a provider must demonstrate that it is a self-critical, cohesive academic community with a proven commitment to the assurance of standards supported by effective quality systems.  All the underpinning criteria must also be fully met, so the QAA scrutiny covered academic governance; regulatory frameworks; academic standards; the quality of the academic experience; staff scholarship and pedagogical effectiveness; the environment for supporting students and an evaluation of performance.


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Frankenstein (Benedict Cumberbatch) and William Frankenstein (Haydon Downing). Photo by Catherine Ashmore

LAMDA slashes first round audition fees, widening access to drama school training

LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks
Sarah Frankcom

Sarah Frankcom. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

  • LAMDA significantly reduces application fee and simplifies audition process:
    • Improved audition experience providing greater value-for-money
    • Newly created audition team of arts practitioners with current industry experience to ensure transparency and relevancy
    • £12 administration fee for initial audition, reducing cost for majority of candidates
    • Remaining fee of £48 (£24 for LAMDA Foundation Diploma) at Recall stage, ensuring that those who progress further (and benefit the most) pay a more proportionate part of the overall fee
    • Fee waivers and travel bursaries available, with proactive approach from LAMDA admissions department
    • First auditions held in 11 cities across the UK, Ireland and France with regular dates in London
  • First initiative under the leadership of Sarah Frankcom as she today takes up the post of Director of LAMDA
  • Changes welcomed by President of LAMDA Benedict Cumberbatch CBE

LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) has announced its new audition process and audition fee structure, which will see the cost of first round auditions slashed for all applicants. This is the first initiative under the leadership of acclaimed theatre director Sarah Frankcom as she today takes up the helm as Director of LAMDA. Applications open at 10.30am on Monday 4 November, via LAMDA’s website.

Chair of LAMDA Shaun Woodward, LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks

Chair of LAMDA Shaun Woodward, LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks

A new simplified process comes into immediate effect for UK and EU applicants for LAMDA’s acting courses. A £12 administration fee will drastically cut the upfront cost of auditioning by 75%. A remaining fee, would then only be payable by candidates invited back for a full-day recall audition, ensuring that those who benefit the most from the process pay a more proportionate amount.

Sarah Frankcom, Director of LAMDA said: “This is about removing the barriers to finding the best talent across the country for our acting schools. It is all about creating greater opportunity. For too long we have talked about removing barriers to students from challenging and low-income backgrounds, but the cost of the first audition for these aspiring actors has too easily been a barrier to them seeking their chance to audition. LAMDA wants to demonstrate the importance to the industry of slashing the cost of that vital first audition.”

The Rt Hon. Shaun Woodward, Chair of LAMDA Trustees, and the former Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said: “This is all about giving real opportunity to students across the UK. We were set the challenge of how to respond to concerns that “the cost of having a go” was “discouraging to would be actors from poorer backgrounds.” So today we meet that challenge.  We want to play our part in removing barriers to young people getting the chance to have their first audition. From the experience of my former constituency of St Helens, I am certain that expensive fees for a first audition really do prevent students from these tougher backgrounds taking the chance on that first audition. This decision by Sarah and our Board is a vital next step and hopefully LAMDA’s lead will encourage more of the industry to act accordingly. We must put our noble ambition for greater access into practice. Slashing first audition fees is about giving the break to opportunity.”

Benedict Cumberbatch CBE, President of LAMDA said: “I am so excited to see that Sarah’s first step as the new Director of LAMDA has been to open up the doors to greater opportunity for students from the toughest backgrounds. We need to make sure that training for the stage, film and television is opened up and that we take down barriers to young people with enormous talent and potential who might have been put off by a first audition fee that was unaffordable.”

LAMDA will continue to hold first auditions regionally, visiting 11 cities across the UK, Ireland and France, with regular dates in London. Audition places will be capped at 4,200 and will be offered on a first come first served basis.

LAMDA will maintain its system of UK audition fee waivers and travel bursaries. Financial support will continue to be available at both stages for candidates applying via LAMDA’s Access and Widening Participation programme.

For further information on funding available, course details and applications visit

LAMDA appoints Royal Exchange’s Sarah Frankcom to lead as new Director

LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks
LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks

LAMDA Director Sarah Frankcom and LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch. Credit Helen Maybanks

  • Appointment welcomed by LAMDA President Benedict Cumberbatch
  • As Director of LAMDA, Frankcom will shape LAMDA’s creative vision as it moves towards further independence and achieving degree awarding powers
  • Sarah Frankcom joins from Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester where she is Artistic Director

28th February 2019, London: LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), the oldest drama school in the UK, today announced the appointment of acclaimed theatre director Sarah Frankcom as its new Director. Bringing world class industry experience, Frankcom joins from the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester where she has been Artistic Director for the last five years.

Frankcom is widely regarded as one of the most influential British theatre directors of the last decade. She was responsible for bringing a series of critically acclaimed shows to the Royal Exchange, most recently Death of a Salesman with Don Warrington, Happy Days with Maxine Peake, and Our Town, for which she was awarded Best Director at the 2018 UK Theatre Awards.

In the newly created role of Director, Frankcom will shape and lead LAMDA’s creative vision and oversee the training of the next generation of dramatic artists, directors and technicians. She will work directly with students to ensure they benefit first hand from her wealth of industry experience. The Directorship replaces the role of Principal following the departure of Joanna Read in January.

Frankcom will officially take up the role in November 2019 as LAMDA enters its first year as an independent Higher Education Provider and moves forward to realising its ambition of achieving degree awarding powers.

Speaking on her appointment, Sarah Frankcom said: “I am thrilled to be appointed as LAMDA’s new Director. LAMDA is a drama school that consistently delivers world-class arts training and examinations, and whose alumni I’ve always found to be the most open, collaborative, and generous during my work as a director.”

She continued: “I’m looking forward to building on LAMDA’s success and grasping the opportunity to re-imagine what a relevant 21st Century theatre training without barriers could be for all emerging talent.”

Welcoming the announcement, Benedict Cumberbatch, LAMDA President and alumni, said: “This is a very exciting next chapter for LAMDA and its students. I am thrilled at the prospect of working with Sarah, who I know has a passion for finding the best talent from whatever background and increasing diversity on stage and screen. Her reputation proceeds and I am sure her leadership will be a performance to truly grip the industry”.

Shaun Woodward, Chair of LAMDA, said: “This is an amazing appointment for LAMDA and a great next step for the school. Sarah is one of the outstanding directors in the UK and she will provide great leadership for our students in the years ahead. We are thrilled.”

Sir Nicholas Hytner, former artistic director of the National Theatre, adds: “Sarah is a tremendous appointment as LAMDA’s new Director. She is one of the UK’s outstanding directors from one of our leading theatres. Sarah galvanised Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, transforming the careers of countless young actors in a succession of greatly admired productions”.


I went along to the unveiling of LAMDA’S new building and had a chat with Joanna Read and Rory Kinnear