Course details

CRICOS course code: 0101877

Level of study: Career Based/Vocational


The Certificate IV in Circus Arts provides an introductory experience into high performance circus arts training, and will equip students with the knowledge and skills to enter preliminary level circus and physical theatre, and to audition for the Bachelor of Circus Arts.

During this one-year course, students will be taught to see the body as their key instrument, and will study and practice conditioning and training, core circus foundation skills, movement and performance skills, applied practices, professional behaviours, health and safety, and circus history and trends.

Graduates of a Certificate IV of Circus Arts will be able to pursue a career as a core circus performer, an ensemble member, and will be well prepared to go into further study.

Course structure

The 10824NATCertificate IV in Circus Arts comprises 12 compulsory units.

All units are delivered at the purpose built facilities located on the Prahran campus of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. The campus includes two award-winning facilities, the first is the Sidney Myer Circus Studio designed by Bates Smart Architects in 2002 and the second is the NICA National Circus Centre (NCC). Designed by Cox Architects & Planners and launched in 2007, the NCC is a12mt high venue that is transformed into a professional performance space with a 350+ seating capacity.

The program is delivered through a mixed mode including a combination of face-to-face workshops, project and group work, and self-paced learning tasks and projects.

Career opportunities

The skills and knowledge encompassed in the program have been identified by industry professionals as the essential elementary introductory skills in circus, suitable for anyone wishing to undertake work in community or recreational circus, or in circus-based school activities, such as: Core circus foundation skills performer; Ensemble member; Assistant in properties and bump in/out.

Aims and objectives

Achievement of excellence as a professional circus artist is possible only through extensive training. Over its lifetime, NICA has demonstrated a clear commitment to a coherent and academically sound program with pathways for students progressing from certificate levels through to bachelor study.

The NICA suite of programs has been developed to cater for the preparation and nurturing of the circus artist and their capacity to participate in the circus industry at varying levels. The three levels of preparation are detailed in the NICA Circus Arts Education and Training Benchmarks and comprise of: Preparatory, Emerging and Elite (internationally industry ready).

The Certificate IV in Circus Arts sits at the second stage of the Preparatory phase where the preliminary competencies, including conditioning and training, core circus foundation skills, movement and performance skills, applied circus and physical theatre practices, professional behaviours, work health and safety and circus history and trends, are established. Through this preliminary level training, the emerging circus artist develops the capacity for safe and informed circus and physical theatre performance. Students are taught to see the body as their key instrument of practice and develop the skills of reflection in the contexts of physical training and performance-making.

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Tuition Fees (AUD $) Start date Duration Campus
20,700 Per Year 23 Jan 2023 1 year
Full time
National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA)
Level 1 PC Building
39-59 Green Street, Prahran (Corner Green & Thomas Street)
Melbourne Victoria 3181

Entry criteria

The successful completion of Year 12 or equivalent is the minimum required educational qualification.

Entry into NICA is by audition, interview and successful completion of a medical assessment. Applicants must apply to audition. A video link may be provided by applicants unable to access an audition venue.

Applicants are expected to have a background in areas such as performing arts, physical theatre, youth circus, dance, martial arts, acrobatic sports or gymnastics.

Applicants must be physically able to undertake the training required. Provision of medical evidence of suitability for circus training may be required.

English language requirements

Satisfactory completion of one of the following:

  • Swinburne's English for Academic Purposes (EAP 4 Upper Intermediate level) with overall 65%, all skills 60%
  • minimum IELTS overall band of 5.5 (Academic Module) with no individual band below 5.0
  • TOEFL iBT (internet-based) 50 (no less than 5 in reading, 5 in listening, 14 in speaking, 15 in writing)

  • Pearson (PTE) minimum score of 42 (no communicative skills less than 36)
  • any other equivalent assessment of English language proficiency.


Swinburne University of Technology
Hawthorn Campus
John Street
Melbourne Victoria 3122
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