Are you fascinated with the study of Shakespeare? Do you want to delve into the theories of Shakespeare at a postgraduate level?
This programme, delivered by and taught at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, offers an unrivalled opportunity for the study of Shakespeare. It develops a critical but appreciative understanding of Shakespeare’s contribution to literary and theatrical history, and the place his works occupy in today’s cultural landscape. The programme has gained a strong reputation both in Britain and abroad. It has proved invaluable for students heading towards a variety of careers, and it provides a solid foundation for research at a higher level.
In addition to the usual supporting documents, when you apply for this course we ask you to submit an example of your written work; this will preferably be an essay on Shakespeare, of about 2,000 words. If you do not have a piece of work that is of the right length it is better to send something that is longer rather than shorter so that we have a better chance to assess your critical writing on a literary topic.
Not everyone has written at any length on Shakespeare at the time they apply, and we are therefore prepared to assess an applicant´s work on another literary topic if necessary. Ideally this would be based on a comparable subject (e.g. on drama, or on another author of Shakespeare´s time), but of course you will also want to choose something that gives a fair representation of your work.
We accept a range of qualifications.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
by holding an English language qualification to the right level
by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
You will study the following four core modules:
Plays and Poems A
Students are encouraged to engage with, and to see the relationship between, the plays and poems Shakespeare wrote in the sixteenth century, in which the dominant genres were comedies and histories, with tragedy an emergent presence towards the end. The module will cover the first half of Shakespeare’s career in chronological order, from 1591 to 1600. Learning is via student presentation and response, with a preliminary lecture on each study day. This module can be studied as a standalone module or with Play and Poems B.
Plays and Poems B
Students are encouraged to engage with, and to see the relationship between, the plays and poems Shakespeare wrote in the seventeenth century, in which the dominant genres were tragedies and tragicomedies. The module will cover the second half of Shakespeare’s career in chronological order, from 1601 - 1613. Learning is via student presentation and response, with a preliminary lecture on each study day. (Plays and Poems A is the pre‐requisite module for Plays and Poems B.)
Textual Studies in Shakespeare
What do we mean when we refer to ‘the text of Shakespeare’? This module investigates the production of the text in the theatre and in print, explores controversies surrounding the interpretation of this material, and introduces students to the techniques of editing. Topics include: the relationship between a modern edition of a play and the earliest printed texts; the nature of the printing process that first made the plays available to readers of books; the characteristics of Shakespeare´s dramatic composition; the treatment of the text in the theatre (including censorship, revision and adaptation); and Shakespeare as a collaborator. Plays studied usually include: Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Sir Thomas More, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, King Lear, Measure for Measure, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Timon of Athens.
Research Skills in Shakespeare
Classes introduce the research techniques applicable in the fields associated with Shakespeare studies, and explore the rich resources available through the University and in Stratford-upon-Avon. This knowledge is applied in a Bibliographical Essay, which provides preparation for the dissertation. These modules will provide a thorough grounding in the study of Shakespeare´s works.
- Your fifth core module, in performance studies, offers a choice between:
History of Shakespeare in Performance
This module will consider trends of acting and directing Shakespeare from the Restoration to the present day, and will exploit the Stratford archives to undertake studies of individual actors and directors from the eighteenth century onwards. Subjects of study might include Colley Cibber, David Garrick, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook, John Barton and Sam Mendes. There will be opportunities to analyse and interpret primary evidence and to consider the cultural context(s) of performance. Plays studied will include Richard III, Hamlet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and A Midsummer Night´s Dream.
This module considers the adaptation and appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays, persona, and possessions from 1660 to the present day, paying particular attention to how changes and developments in theatre practice, aesthetic tastes, social concerns, political events, the heritage industry, and commercial markets have shaped the history of Shakespeare’s ‘afterlife’. The module looks at trends broadly chronologically, focusing on particular examples as it traces how the plays (and other Shakespeariana) were received and reinterpreted in light of different artistic, intellectual, and commercial movements from the late seventeenth to early twenty‐first centuries. The distinction between ‘adaptations’, ‘appropriations’, ‘translations’, and ‘versions’ will be questioned, and students will be invited to consider the extent to which the different adaptations they read or see rely upon the original Shakespearian text for context and meaning.
- You will also study one optional module – either a second performance studies module (above) or another Shakespeare Institute module:
History of Shakespeare Criticism
Early Modern Drama: Middleton and Jonson
Shakespeare and Theatre Practice
- On successful completion of the six taught modules, you will enrol on the dissertation:
In this module you will undertake a substantial piece of independent research. This may be based on - but will extend - work undertaken for previous modules in the programme. There should be some element of originality in the research and the research may make a contribution to the field of study. You will report the research in a dissertation of 15,000 words (in appropriate academic English). In designing, carrying out and writing up the study, you will be supported by a supervisor.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
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