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Drama BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time W400 2015
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2015
Joint honours: see course combinations for UCAS codes

See the Unistats data for this course

Why choose this course?

This course will enable you to explore the practice, history and theory of drama in a range of contexts and settings. You will have the chance to work with leading professionals and be actively involved with productions. Our drama team has links with a number of theatre companies and practitioners, a close association with the town's Rose Theatre, and is engaged in cutting-edge research.

You can also choose to study this course as a joint honours degree alongside another subject. See the course combinations section for more information.

Watch a video to find out why you should study drama at Kingston University:

What will you study?

This degree focuses on four key themes that run through all three years of the course: performance histories; creative theatre-making; performance texts; and performance in relation to culture. Each theme integrates theory and practice, and, throughout your studies, you will be encouraged to explore how these complementary areas relate to and impact upon each other.

Year 1 introduces you to approaches and ideas central to the study of drama at Kingston University. You will look at key approaches to interpreting performance, analysing playtexts and productions; explore the skills and methodologies of performing and theatre-making; learn basic principles of theatre design; and study key phases in theatre history. At the end of Year 1 you will bring your different kinds of learning together in a performance project.

In Year 2 you will extend and develop your understanding of the key themes. There are core modules in contemporary play study, devising performance and Modernist theatre theory and practice. In addition, you may choose from option modules in popular performance, Shakespeare and scriptwriting.

During Year 3, a higher level of independence and specialisation is encouraged. A major production project, either text-based or devised, is a core element. You will also be able to follow your interests through a choice of option modules; for example, cabaret and variety performance, Renaissance theatre, performance and identity, and scriptwriting.

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 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.

     
  • 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.

     
  • This module is designed specifically for full field Drama students. It compliments and extends knowledge and understanding of key concepts of performance developed in Making Theatre Happen by focussing on the relationship between the actor and the written playtext.

    There are two interweaving strands and each is designed to serve as a foundation for students’ ongoing studies.  Students explore fundamental components of drama such as plot, action, character and dialogue and examine ways in which each is presented in a series of written playtexts.  These plays are studied in detail and each is identified as a pretext for performance.  Students are introduced to ways of interrogating the texts and develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the relationship between what is written on the page and what is presented on the stage. The same playtexts are also used to explore a range of differing performance methodologies that can be utilised to identify the performance potentials of a text in a workshop environment.  Students are led through cycles of Preparation, Exploration and Realisation - understanding what these terms mean and the actions they consist of will be an important aspect of the module - and not only learn appropriate ways in which to create intelligent and imaginative performance informed by a written text but also develop a range of acting skills necessary to perform them effectively. 

    Throughout the module students are also introduced to the basic principles of theatre lighting and sound and will be encouraged to explore the impact of these technical elements when used in a performance context.  

     
  • Culture and Performance is a core module in the first year Drama field, and is taken by full-field students only.

    The module introduces students to a range of contemporary cultural and critical perspectives on drama, and investigates the relationship between culture and performance. The major emphasis of the module is upon developing a refined understanding of how drama, theatre and performance operate in different contexts. The main features of the module are the investigation of ways in which drama expresses cultural and critical perspectives in practice, and the exploration of theories such as post-colonialism, feminism, and materialism as creative and analytical tools. The module is taught through seminar discussions and related practical workshops, supported by extra-curricular events such as theatre visits. The module is assessed formatively through the presentation of a performance essay and a supporting rationale.

    Culture and Performance provides an essential platform for students' understanding of Drama as a discipline, and helps to deepen their understanding of what theatre is, how and why it is made, and how it makes meaning. The module provides an essential introduction to later Drama modules that explore cultural and critical perspectives in more detail.

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • 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.

     
  • 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 a range 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 can choose whether to pursue devising in a performance-based or an applied context. If they choose the former, they create a group-based in-house devised performance. If they choose the latter, they create a group-based applied theatre project, which may take place in an outside venue such as a school, youth-group or community setting.

     
  • 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.

     
  • This is an optional module for all Drama students at Level 5 that runs throughout the academic year and introduces students to a range of European popular performance traditions.  Commedia dell’ arte, pantomime and clown are typical examples of these traditions although the module could equally focus on a number of other forms.   The origins and histories of these modes of performance are examined and used as a foundation for the exploration of theory associated with academics and practitioners such as Jacques Lecoq, John Rudlin, Dario Fo and John Wright. Both the historical context and the theoretical framework provide a reliable basis for the practical exploration of essential techniques and conventions of performance associated with each of the forms studied.  The mutable and capricious Clown, an enduring feature of popular performance, is a recurrent figure within the module and serves as a playful means of approaching concepts such as presence, play, and the role of the spectator in the creation of meaning as well as common themes such as marginality, transgression order and chaos.

     
  • 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.

     
  • This module is an option for full, major and half field Drama and Creative Writing students at Level 5 and runs throughout the academic year.

    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.

     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • This module is a core requirement for full field Drama students and an optional module for students taking Drama as a major field. It provides a preparation for DA6002 Production Projects B. Major Drama students opting to do Production Projects must take both A and B. However, it can be taken as a stand-alone module by study-abroad students.

    Building on students' studies at Levels 4 and 5, this module explores in depth and detail how theatre productions are made. At its heart is an advanced examination of dramaturgy - the relationship between form, structure and meaning in performance - as it has been conceived of in different time periods and contexts and as it relates to both process and performance. The module begins with an exploration of different dramaturgical perspectives, ranging from the 'well-made-play' to the post-dramatic. Following on from this, through a series of linked presentations and workshops, including workshops offered by visiting theatre professionals, students investigate the roles played by contributors to both devised and script-based theatre production, such as actor, deviser, director, designer, writer and dramaturg. These workshops are related in concrete ways to texts, themes and approaches students might employ in creating their own production and lead to the group-based presentation of a 'pitch' for a devised or scripted theatre production which they then have the opportunity to carry through to fruition in DA6002 Production Projects B.

     
  • This is a core requirement for full field Drama students and an option for students taking Drama as a major field. It continues from DA6001, enabling students to develop the ideas and research they have undertaken in that module and carry them through to realisation. It is a capstone project which allows students to draw together their learning from across the Drama programme and apply it in a 'real-world' context through the creation, rehearsal and performance of a theatre production.

    This module is largely undertaken through independent group-based rehearsal, although there is also a series of presentations and workshops addressing specific areas such as groupwork strategies, problem-solving, rehearsal planning and scheduling, managing budgets and publicity and marketing. Students form groups, select roles and choose scripts, themes and modes of performance based on the 'pitch' they made and the feedback received at the end of DA6001. The size of groups may vary but groups should not be made up of fewer than 5 students or more than 12. Each group will have a designated supervisor and a budget allocated on the basis of group size. The rehearsal process will be constructed around a series of formatively and summatively assessed stages such as work in progress performances, group and individual reflective exercises, submission of design and technical plans and presentation of publicity materials. Performances will be scheduled across a number of weeks in consultation with the Drama Technical Production Manager.

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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.

     
  • The cultural impact of music hall, variety theatre and differing incarnations of cabaret has been felt at various times since the latter half of the nineteenth century and the legacies of these traditions continue to inform a wide range of current performance practice. This year-long module, which is optional for all Drama students at Level 6 provides, an opportunity to study a range of popular performance forms from historical, theoretical and practical perspectives.  It therefore enables students to investigate issues such as the impact of Modernism and the emerging avant garde on the cabaret culture that spread throughout Europe, but significantly not as far as the UK, during the late nineteenth century; the importance of the halls in the development of popular culture; the birth of alternative cabaret and subsequently alternative comedy as a reaction to the Thatcherite politics of the late 1970s and early 1980s; and the current popularity of neo-burlesque.  It also supports the exploration of essential practicalities such as the development and expression of a performer's personality; establishing rapport with the audience; ways in which material might be generated; and the necessity of presence and spontaneity.   

     
  • Professional practice is a third-year option module which may be taken by both single honours and joint honours students.

    This module provides an opportunity to gain credit for work undertaken in a professional context, for example as an employee or apprentice in a theatre organisation, and to enhance employability by acquiring skills and experience needed for work in the theatre industry. The main feature of the module is practice-based collaboration in a creative process, project, or performance, for which students have at least partial responsibility. Research into the partner organisation takes place alongside roles and responsibilities in the practical work. Assessment is through a portfolio of activities. The form and timing of practical assessment will vary from project to project. Similarly, students are assessed through forms of written and/or verbal presentation appropriate to the project.

    This module enables students to apply their skills and knowledge directly, acquire new skills and experience in an up-to-date professional context, and initiate a professional network before course completion.

    Eligibility

    Potential projects are identified by students before the end of Semester 1 in Year 2, and a pitch, job description or business plan is then written and presented. The module option can be selected if it is agreed that the identified project offers a clear opportunity to meet the learning outcomes of the module.

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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 play-making in the twenty-first century. In particular the module allows students to develop critical awareness of the complex relationship between geo-political events and pressures - including the War on Terror, the excesses of late capitalism, post-feminist 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.

     

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 programme or Erasmus programme.

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