BA Drama

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Varieties of Shakespeare

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM21131
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course investigates the plays of William Shakespeare and the way in which theatre and filmmakers have engaged with, adapted and presented his work over the last two centuries. The playtexts are explored in relation to the theatrical, cultural, social and political contexts of their creation and subsequent presentations, and the challenges the plays pose for directors, writers, designers, performers and audiences. The course examines the ways in which Shakespeare and subsequent directors and writers have engaged with the world around them, in order to develop an understanding of the possibilities and potential meanings of Shakespeare’s plays in performance.



Pre-requisite units

DRAM10001 or DRAM10002 (or equivalent)



  • To engage with a range of William Shakespeare’s plays and their presentation on stage and screen, paying particular attention to modes of adaptation and issues of content and context.
  • To explore the relationship between text and theatrical and screen production of Shakespeare’s work from the 19th century to the present day.
  • To develop students’ abilities to work both independently and as groups, both creatively and critically, and to facilitate the development of skills in researching production history and presenting that research in oral and written formats.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of key works by William Shakespeare.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural and political contexts in which these works were written and staged.
  • Engage critically with a range of examples of historical and contemporary responses to Shakespeare
  • Explore a range of critical, contextual and theoretical material and show an ability to interrogate the relationships between this material and primary texts.

Intellectual skills

  • Develop coherent arguments and analyses and articulate these in both written and spoken work.

  • Reflect critically on and evaluate a range of texts and performances.

  • Synthesise and analyse a range of critical texts and research resources, both historical and contemporary.

Practical skills

  • Work efficiently as a key member of a small group engaged in research, practical work, and presentation.
  • Communicate research material both verbally and in writing.
  • Locate multiple forms of evidence using Library resources, including databases

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate an ability to work at research-based tasks both independently and in groups.
  • Manage complex research tasks effectively.
  • Present material clearly, cogently and articulately.

Employability skills

¿ a good level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills ¿ an ability to develop detailed, planned and multi-layered approaches to tasks ¿ an ability to work productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex challenges ¿ an enhanced ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to different audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics





Assessment methods

Scholarly review of a live production of a play by Shakespeare or a recorded live production 40%
Essay 60%
Group presentation NA (formative)


Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on review and essay
  • Oral feedback on the presentation
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)


Recommended reading

To be supplemented by specified weekly reading.

Dymkowski, Christine and Christie Carson (eds) Shakespeare in Stages: new theatre histories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010

Hodgdon, Barbara and William Worthen (eds) A Companion to Shakespeare in Performance. Oxford: Blackwell 2005

Jackson, Russell, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007

Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race and Colonialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 20002

Robert Shaugnessy, The Routledge Companion to William Shakespeare. Routledge 2011

Ayanna Thompson, Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race and Contemporary America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011

Worthen, William, Shakespeare Performance Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Katharine Dorney Unit coordinator

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