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Drama and English BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
3 years full time WQK3 2018
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2018

Why choose this course?

This course provides the opportunity to combine two subjects which have historically been popular both at Kingston University and across the sector. Do you want to gain knowledge and understanding of drama and English and to explore the synergies between them?  Are you interested in the theatre but keen to study other literary forms? Then this is the course for you.

It'll provide you with the knowledge, understanding and experience of the theatre as a cultural institution, through the study of drama, literature, dramatic theory and performance practice. The course is delivered in a dynamic, challenging and supportive environment and students benefit from their own dedicated studio and rehearsal facilities as well as from Kingston's proximity to some of the world's great theatres.

What you will study

The Drama and English BA(Hons) is an ideal choice for you if you're interested in the theatre but want to study other literary forms.

The programme provides you with knowledge, understanding and experience of the theatre as a cultural institution, through the study of drama, literature, dramatic theory and performance practice. As a London-based university we pay particular attention to the ways the theatre and literature have been shaped by the city and in turn have shaped the city in our imagination.

You'll explore the history, theory, criticism and practice of theatre-making and literature. For instance you can study playwriting alongside textual analysis of plays, or Shakespeare alongside world literatures.

You'll also develop a range of transferable skills to equip you for the demands of a competitive world: the ability to formulate and articulate ideas; the ability to communicate effectively in written English; the ability to evaluate and revise your own work; the facility to solve problems in collaborative and creative ways and the capacity to negotiate outcomes.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module is a core requirement for all Drama students at Level 4 and runs throughout the academic year. It operates and is assessed in conjunction with DA4002 Making Theatre Happen and is supported by a small group tutorial system. The module introduces students to significant approaches and research methods associated with the study of theatre history. The course will draw on students' previous and current studies of performance texts and styles to investigate how we make theatre history, what evidence we draw upon, and what implications these histories have for our current performance making  In the first part of the module students will increase their knowledge and understanding by investigating key periods in Western theatre history including the English renaissance, the popular Victorian stage, modernism and the post-war theatre of the absurd.  In a series of tutor led seminar/workshops, the students will consider the historical contexts that gave rise to changing conceptions of dramatic character, dialogue and action. Particular attention will be given to the material conditions in which theatre artists worked and the relationship between the theatre and the culture at large in any given period. In the latter part of the module students will apply their knowledge and research skills in a student-led, staff-supervised project utilising skills acquired in DA4002 Making Theatre Happen.

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  • This module is a core requirement for all Drama students at Level 4 and runs throughout the academic year. It operates and is assessed in conjunction with DA4001 Staging Histories. The module introduces students to significant skills, vocabularies and methods associated with creating performance and explores ways in which these may be applied within a range of dramatic and theatrical contexts. The main features of this module are the study and practice of key elements of performance such as the use of space, time, force (or energy); body and voice; play; interpersonal interaction onstage and off; performance structure and dynamics; and the creation of dramatic meaning and theatrical effect. In the first part of the module students participate in a variety of tutor-led exercises designed to increase their understanding and skills in these areas. These are drawn from methodologies and techniques developed by 20th and 21st century practitioner-theorists such as Anne Bogart; Rudolph Laban, Jacques Lecoq and Augusto Boal. They are also introduced to the basic principles of theatre lighting and sound. In the second part of the module they apply what they have learned in a student-led, staff-supervised project based around material studied in DA4001 Staging Histories.

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  • This module introduces you to the literature of London, from the rise of Renaissance theatre culture to its fictional futures, and from explorations of its urban heart to its sprawling suburbs. You will investigate how numerous writers have depicted everyday life in the metropolis, as well as social upheaval, crime and injustice. You will consider the emergence of distinct literary cultures in the capital, the ways London's position at the centre of a global empire has shaped its literature, and how writers have in turn represented the experiences of particular groups, for example, social elites, immigrants, women, and children.

    The module will also introduce you to some of the most fundamental categories of literature. The module will be organised into three strands: one on drama, one on poetry, and one on prose (fiction and non-fiction). In each strand you will identify the distinctive characteristics of particular forms and genres of literature, and of modes of writing that developed at particular historical moments. Through close study of a range of literary texts we will consider, for instance, what distinguishes tragedy, comedy and realism in drama, how poets have engaged with the sonnet form or the epic, what defines the memoir, and how to explain the differences in narrative style between realist and modernist fiction.

    Our weekly interactive lectures will be complemented by study trips to locations across London, which may include a visit to the Globe Theatre, the London Museum or a walking lecture following the route taken by Mrs Dalloway in Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name. 

     
  • Why are our reading practices so dominated by British writers? What happens if you turn the world map upside down? This module introduces literatures written in places other than Great Britain and considers the links between literature and the formation of cultural, national and racial identities. We will also think about how literature can act as a mode of resistance to imperialist ideologies. In doing so, we will broaden our understanding of what constitutes 'English' literature.

    The module begins with a series of lectures discussing relevant conceptual frameworks; you will be asked to consider how texts function within discursive and ideological contexts, largely through a postcolonial framework. Following this introduction, you will study consecutively three areas of geographical focus in detail, such as nineteenth-century American literature, Irish literature, Latin American writing, Caribbean literature, contemporary American fiction, African writing.

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This module is a core requirement for full field Drama students. It focuses on new writing and its pre-eminent place in contemporary British theatre culture. Building on skills and knowledge gained in The Actor and the Text and Staging Histories, the module is designed to allow students both to study key plays in depth and also to develop an understanding of the historical conditions that led to the primacy of the 'new play' in British theatre of the post war period. Taking the establishment of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court in the mid-fifties as a starting point, students will study key plays and playwrights in the process acquiring an accurate overview of the styles of writing that have been most acclaimed, influential and/or controversial in recent decades. Particular attention will be paid to British playwriting in the 1990s and the origins, impact and aesthetics of the In-Yer-Face school. Students will also consider the impact of cultural and institutional policies, such as the establishment of the Arts Council and the young writer's programmes at various subsidised theatres - the Royal Court, Soho Theatre - in shaping contemporary drama, its forms and principal preoccupations.

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  • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. It will begin by exploring literature published from the 1930s through to the present day, and will examine the strategies writers have used in response to a changing Britain and wider world. We will consider how twentieth and twenty-first-century texts adapt realist, modernist and postmodern techniques to engage with issues such as the rise of mass culture, the threat of totalitarianism, the establishment of the Welfare State, post-war immigration, and sexual liberation. To enhance your perspective on these issues, you will be introduced to non-fiction material by other contemporary writers, such as J.B. Priestley, Erich Fromm, Iris Murdoch, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Hoggart, and George Lamming, as well as more recent critical and theoretical material. The module also examines the development and continuing popularity of realist drama in the twentieth century. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which realist drama is used as a tool of social and political examination in the various contexts of pre-revolutionary Russia, Dublin in the aftermath of the First World War, and the establishment of the welfare state in Britain after 1945. Secondly, we will examine the developments in non-realist forms of drama and the experiments which gave rise to what is, somewhat controversially, called the ‘Theatre of the Absurd'. The module culminates with the study of a selection of texts chosen to illustrate the great variety of genres and styles in contemporary British literature and to exemplify literature written by different nationalities and social groups. Underpinned by relevant theoretical perspectives, questions will be raised about the relation between literature and contemporary events, with relation to issues pertinent to literature, such as social mobility, hybridity, democracy and technology. In recent years, authors studied have included Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, Harold Pinter, Alan Hollinghurst, and Zadie Smith.

     
  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • This module is an option for those students taking Full Field and Half Field Drama in Level 5. It is an opportunity for students to enlarge particularly on studies in Staging Histories from Level 4. Three or four of Shakespeare's plays are studied in depth, and others used for reference. The plays are studied in a practical way, to explore their form and elicit their changing meanings in different theatrical and cultural contexts and at key historical moments. The module explores changing approaches to production since the first performances in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre and evaluates the impact which players and directors and their methods have had on the reception of Shakespeare at different particular moments. The module seeks to pinpoint how the social/ cultural/ political concerns of any given time have been dramatised in productions of the plays. Changing themes are explored to see how they might have been dramatised at different times, as a means of defining what has been meant and what is meant by ‘Shakespeare'.  Research tasks include the treatment of the plays in different playing contexts: on the stage, on the screen and in the workshop/ classroom.

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    • This is a core module for full-field Drama students and an option for those taking Drama as a major field. It builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills students gain in the Level 4 core module DA4002 Making Theatre Happen, enabling them to develop and adapt these within the context of devising theatre. It begins with an exploration of dramaturgical principles in relation to devised performance with a focus on how companies and practitioners select and respond to stimulus material of different kinds and how they shape that material into performance. Students study and critique devised productions and engage in creative exercises which enable them to experiment with a range of methods and techniques of devising. They then explore ways in which these approaches can be utilised and adapted within community and applied contexts. They are introduced to principles of theatre as social intervention, studying examples of applied theatre practice and participating in workshops focused around the employment of devising techniques in community contexts with a particular emphasis on collaborative methodology. For their assessment, students create a group-based devised performance They can choose to conceive of this as aimed at a specific audience such as a specific age group or community.  

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    • This is a core module for all Drama students. It builds on the knowledge, understanding and performance skills students have gained in Level 4 modules, particularly DA4003, The Actor and the Text and DA4001 Staging Histories. This module provides an opportunity to explore in detail the key facets of Modernism, as it was manifested in theatre.  The first part of the module explores the themes and principles of Naturalism in theory and practice. Students study its historical context and conventions alongside the work of key dramatists and directors who helped to shape Naturalistic theatre. The exploration of this key movement in modern theatre is underpinned by practice.  Key scenes are explored in detail and appropriate processes used to realise them in performance. The second part of the module explores the gravitation towards the ‘Anti-Realism' movement of the early twentieth century Avant-Garde, touching on Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism and Absurdism. The conventions, themes and principles of these movements are explored in terms of their social, cultural and political concerns. Selected texts from key dramatists will be fully interrogated within the workshop/classroom and their influence on performance today will be examined.

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    • The module introduces students to the craft of writing dramatic scripts for stage, screen and radio. Through a series of practical exercises, writing tasks and feedback students will become familiar with key principles of dramatic writing that apply across the three forms.  A refined sense of how 'conflict' and 'action' build suspense, tension, humour or pathos; of how to create characters that draw the audience's empathy; of the importance of 'subtext' and of how to harness the scenographic dimension through stage directions and settings, all contribute to the craft of a successful dramatic writer. In addition, sessions on radio and screen writing will not only introduce students to the specific conventions of these forms but also, in drawing attention to the spoken word and aural dimension (in radio) and visual story-telling (in screen), students will be sensitised to the power of the scenography as a component of dramatic craft.

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    • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. We will study key texts from the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries that register the ways in which Britain is transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and which give expression to fears about technology, social mobility and urban culture. We will consider literature of the period that questions and resists established theories of gendered identity, and which challenges the literary representation of sexuality, defying censorship in the process. We will be introduced to writers who engage with contemporary debates about science, religion, the empire, and racial and national identity. And we will encounter a range of consciously modern texts which dislocate and make new the reader's experience by technical innovation and experiment. In recent years, writers studied have included Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

       
    • DA5006: The Theatre Director: crafting productions for the stage.

      This is an optional module that enables Level 5 Drama students to explore in detail a range of theatre rehearsal and production processes.  Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the role and function of the theatre director in relation to the other key members of the creative team: actors, designers and technicians, and apply the skills and competencies they develop to the independent creation and production of theatre performance.  The module's initial focus is directorial preparation and students will use Katie Mitchell's The Director's Craft as a template to explore, amongst other things, production-focused play analysis; interpretation and Dramaturgy; workshopping the text and ways in which to rehearse a scene.  This section of the module will culminate in the preparation and presentation of a rehearsal demonstration.  They will then be encouraged to think about the production more broadly and produce a director's book demonstrating that they are able to to consider carefully the perspectives and approaches of theatre designers and technicians whilst discovering effective ways in which to collaborate with the production team.

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    • What does literature do? How does it shape individual and cultural identities? In what ways does it produce affects, construct otherness and celebrate difference? Studying a range of influential approaches to literature, this module will examine key ideas concerning the creation and interpretation of texts, from the role of language, history and cultural difference to the effects of sexuality, the unconscious, empire and technology. By applying these insights to one important genre of fiction - to works like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Beetle, Rebecca and World War Z - the module will extend practical analytical skills while introducing exciting new ways of thinking about texts.

       
     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • This module is an option for all level 6 Drama students. It builds on students' learning in the core Level 5 module DA5004, Modernism and the Stage and, in reflecting on the breakdown of boundaries between different theatre and performance forms in the late 20th century, draws together learning from a wide range of other modules. Its focus is on avant garde conceptions of performance and how these have altered and developed from the mid twentieth century to the present day. A key concept is that of the movement from 'acting' to 'performance'. The module begins with key influences from late Modernism, such as Brecht's Alienation Effect and the Theatre of the Absurd, then moves on to explore the variety of ways in which late 20th and early 21st century avant garde practice has  responded to and challenged thinking about theatre and performance. Postmodern cultural theory and Hans Thies Lehman's notion of the 'postdramatic', provide the context for studies of a range of performance practices which might include the experimental approaches to textual interpretation of companies such as the Wooster Group, site-specific and autobiographical performance, and live art. The module mixes practice with theory, allowing students to apply the principles underpinning work by significant innovators to their own creative practice.

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  • Salman Rushdie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Geoffrey Chaucer, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Mary Shelley, John Milton, Lawrence Sterne, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison...the list is endless. At every point in literary history there are writers who break the mould and challenge the status quo. Whether it is through writing epics that endure through centuries, addressing the injustices of the time or challenging the very notion of what a novel, poem or a play can do, writers can be radical in a number of exciting ways. This module looks at works by radical writers in depth, studying one famous text in detail by a range of writers from different time periods and taught by lecturers who are experts in these writers. We will look at the context of each text as well as the way the text is written, determining why these radical writers have been so successful and looking at the effects their texts have had on the world around them. We will look at the idea of the literary ‘canon', made up of writers who have been radical in some way, and consider the way that this idea can be challenged, reinvigorated or refreshed.

     
  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • This module provides an opportunity for students to work independently under supervision on a piece of written work substantial enough to constitute a capstone project. It offers an additional and optional opportunity for students to present the results of their research in a conference setting. Students will be able to exercise and deploy knowledge and skills acquired in earlier levels of their programmes in PASS by focussing in depth on a specific and discrete topic in dance, drama, film and television, media or music. Using both primary and secondary sources, students will be required to define and subsequently undertake a research project with the aim of producing a dissertation on an agreed topic. Students will be permitted to undertake research in inter-disciplinary areas such as dance on screen, music theatre or cyber theatre.

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    • Building on knowledge and skills acquired in Level 5, this module is designed to provide students with in depth knowledge and understanding of key trends in playmaking in the twenty first century. In particular the module allows students to develop critical awareness of the complex relationship between geopolitical events and pressures including the War on Terror, the excesses of late capitalism, postfeminist debates and the digital revolution and theatre in contemporary Britain. The module considers how policy makers, theatre companies, dramatists and theatres have responded, and continue to respond, to the social, political and economic pressures that problematise the very idea of Britain and Britishness in the twenty first century. The course will focus on the performance of contemporary British identities in relation to class, ethnicity, gender and nation.

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    • This module is an option for those students taking Full Field and Half Field Drama in Level 6. It is an opportunity for students to enlarge particularly on studies in Shakespeare: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow from Level 5. Five or six key play texts are chosen from the period (including no more than one of Shakespeare's), which may include works by playwrights such as Marlowe, Middleton, Webster, Massinger, Jonson, Dekker, Heywood, Beaumont and Fletcher. The texts are studied in a practical way to reveal their context in the European Renaissance, their role in the design and development of public theatre spaces, methods of staging, their impact on acting and acting styles, reflection of contemporary politics and society and their potential as texts for performance today.

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    • Tragedy, Catastrophe, Trauma is a special-study option module in the third year Drama field, and may be taken by both single honours and joint honours students.

      The module examines how ideas about tragedy have changed, and how these changes have produced different forms of tragedy at different times. The major emphasis of the module is on approaches such as Howard Barker's Theatre of Catastrophe, where the idea of tragedy is re-worked in relation to the practitioner's understanding of contemporary social, political and cultural contexts.

      The main feature of the module is critically-informed experimentation with staging a tragic drama for today. The module is taught through practical workshops exploring key texts in the development of tragedy. These texts are introduced and contextualised through a series of seminars and research tasks. The module is assessed formatively through presentations in class, and summatively through an academic essay, and the performance of an extract from a Barker play.

      Core materials are provided through Study Space and the LRC. This module provides students with an independent and in-depth practical and critical engagement with the origins, development and significance of different forms of tragic theatre.

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    • This module is an optional module for all Drama and Creative Writing students at Level 6 and runs throughout the academic year.  Responding to the changing status of live performance in the twenty-first century, the module explores alternatives to the mainstream 'dramatic' tradition of playwriting. It takes into consideration how cultural shifts such as the advent of new technologies and a global community are or might be reflected in contemporary writing for the stage and in media-based performance (for example audio drama and experimental film). Students encounter a selection of play-texts and performances from the historical and contemporary avant-garde which act as prompts to their creative explorations of playwriting and performance writing methods and techniques.  Students are encouraged to be experimental and innovative in their own writing, and to question the role of both the theatre and the playwright.  This is a practical and creative module that may involve performance-based exercises (for example improvisation and task-based performance) as well as writing ones.

      The module develops understandings and themes encountered in DA5005 The Play Today and is particularly suited to students who achieved a pass or above in DA5001 Write Action.  The module is ideal preparation for students who are considering Master's Level study in playwriting (particularly Kingston University's MA Playwriting), as well as those looking to pursue performance-making after graduation.

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    • This module examines the rich and dynamic presence of British black and Asian writing from the mid-17th century to the present. Exploring the ways in which black and Asian writing has contributed to definitions of Britishness for more than 300 years, it examines how black writers have produced formally innovative and conceptually challenging responses to questions of race, class, gender and identity, while simultaneously making significant creative contributions to the fields of drama, prose, poetry, and life-writing. In the first half of the module, students will study a range of early British texts from the mid-17th century to the 19th century from writers such as Equiano and Mary Seacole, alongside contemporary works which have reflected on the black cultural presence in Britain during this period, while the second half of the module turns to 20th century and contemporary texts by writers such as Zadie Smith. Andrea Levy, Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani, Leila Aboulela, Jackie Kay and John Agard, contextualised by appropriate critical and cultural theories from thinkers such as Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall. The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy which allows students to respond to the module through a combination of critical essay, performance and/or creative writing, and discussion posts documenting engagement and critical response.

       
    • This optional Level 6 module allows students to pursue Shakespeare studies at an advanced level and is founded upon a detailed and extensive study of the writer and his works.  Consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches to Shakespeare as well as the long history and dynamic status of Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, for example in relation to questions of gender, identity and globalisation.  Students will be encouraged to reflect upon the role of Shakespeare in culture now as well as relevant contemporary contexts such as the nature of early modern theatre going alongside crucial political and religious conditions. Teaching on the module will be closely aligned with the rich resources available at the Rose Theatre and in particular will afford students the opportunity to participate in the stimulating series of talks and events organised as part of the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS).

       
    • This module traces how literature from the 19th century to the present has concerned itself with questions of gender identity and sexuality, often offering a radical voice for those - including both women and LGBTQ+ voices - excluded from dominant and mainstream discourses. Rooted in feminist and queer theory, we will explore how feminist writing has critiqued patriarchy, how literature has challenged normative gender roles, how it has engaged with powerful questions regarding the body and the politics of desire, and how it has represented the debates within different facets of the feminist and queer community. We will also consider how writers have employed literary form and genre - for example the use of experimental writing, dramatic or poetic form, or the romance genre - and to what extent debates surrounding these forms and genre contribute to a gendered politics of cultural production. Explicitly intersectional in its approach, we will frame our discussions with an interrogation of how the politics of gender and sexuality is shaped by its relationship with questions of class, race, disability, and religion. Examples of authors studied might include Jeanette Winterson, Fleur Adock Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Kushner, Clare Macintyre, Leila Aboulela, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Virginia Woolf.

      The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy consisting of discussion board posts and a student designed portfolio of responses which may include essay, creative writing (fiction or non-fiction), artwork, media production and performance.

       
     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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