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Unit information: Drama Through the Ages in 2021/22

Unit name Drama Through the Ages
Unit code ENGL10057
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Gournet
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims


This unit will introduce students to a variety of theatrical works, from an exploration of the Medieval Mystery Plays and Mankind to a discussion of present-day plays. We will focus predominantly on British work, through the influence of world drama – especially European and American theatre - will be explored throughout. There will be a particular focus on the development of sixteenth- and early seventeenth- century drama, just before and the birth of the public playhouse, with discussion of plays by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth Cary, and Aphra Behn. Works by later notable figures including Henrik Ibsen, Caryl Churchill, Debbie tucker green and Lin Manuel Miranda will also be discussed in relation to the socio-political contexts in which they were written and – equally importantly – staged. These playtexts will be read and analysed alongside performance records and other documentation. There will be opportunities to consider issues such as performance circumstances, the practicalities of staging, and different methods of adapting sources (including historical events) for theatrical presentation. 


This unit aims to develop students’ knowledge of theatre and performance contexts over a wide period, and to introduce some of the methodological issues surrounding theatrical historiography. A range of writers and plays, and documentary evidence relevant to them, will be introduced; and there will be opportunities to consider performance questions through practical workshops, as well as by reading a range of appropriate materials. The unit aims to facilitate students’ ongoing appreciation of the chronology and historical development of literature in English.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate critical understanding of the texts studied and how they relate to the period and literary context in which they were written.
  2. Analyse the works in terms of its staging, vocabulary, imagery, characterisation, structure, and other aspects
  3. Communicate their ideas about the written texts analytically, coherently and persuasively.

Teaching Information

The unit will normally be taught in 1 x 3-hour seminar per week for 10 weeks, each of which will utilise a range of teaching methods including lectures by the tutor(s), formal and informal presentations by students, and small group discussion.

Assessment Information

1 x 2000 word essay (50%) [ILOs 1-3]

1 x timed coursework with particular focus on critical commentary (50%) [ILOs 1-3]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL10057).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.