You will develop the ability to understand a range of plays within their historical context, and engage with key historical and critical questions about the theatre and performance, such as:
- What can the Renaissance stage teach us today about the politics of performance?
- Why does Victorian melodrama, which originated in a very different historical and technological period, contain characters and plots which would not look out of place in Hollywood blockbusters?
- What are the political pressures driving contemporary theatre today?
You engage with different forms of drama through performance and research, and the course is intended to provide graduates with a solid grounding in the textual and practical study of drama and performance.
In Year 1 you will gain a solid grounding in the textual and practical study of drama and performance. You will explore theatricality, textuality, and performativity through the works of playwrights such as Shakespeare, Beckett and Wilde. You’ll study Naturalism, Expressionism, Renaissance and 21st century playgoing.
Year 2 has a largely historical focus. You’ll study Renaissance tragedy and comedy and examine modernist and post-modernist drama in more depth. You will develop the ability to understand a range of plays within their historical context, and engage with key historical and critical questions about theatre and performance. You’ll spend a semester working with a team of other students on a performance of a modern British play.
In Year 2 you can opt to take an independent study module to explore a topic that particularly interests you. You can also choose to complete a Work Placement module.
In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to specialise in specific areas of study, for example theatre and madness or Renaissance plays of the Rose Theatre. During the final module of your degree you will take part in a final production, and will contribute to the project's directorial, design and associated creative visions to produce a sustained piece of performance work.
You may also choose to complete an interdisciplinary dissertation. You’ll produce a sustained piece of research which focuses on a topic of your choosing that draws together the two parts of your combined honours degree.
The course also includes modules designed to give you insights into careers in the professional theatre.
Drama is available as combined honours only - see the 'Combining this course with another subject' tab for the full list of other subjects that you can study alongside it.
As we review our courses regularly, the list of modules you choose from may vary from the ones shown here. You can also read more detailed module descriptions here.
In your first year you will study two skills-based modules:
- Approaches to Performance - introduces you to key theatrical skills and forms, approached from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Texts studied might include Victorian melodrama Black Ey’d Susan, Ibsen’s Ghosts, Brecht’s Mother Courage and Beckett’s Quad.
- Texts in Performance - provides an in-depth historical understanding of performance circumstances and developments. Texts studied might range from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus through Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to Sarah Kane’s Crave.
Years 2 and 3
Year 2 begins with a grounding in British Theatre 1950-Present and Modern British Theatre in Performance, a chance to explore modern and contemporary British text-based theatre through playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Cary Churchill and theatre makers such as Max Stafford-Clark. Further second year modules include:
- Theatre and Theory - Modern and Postmodern - explores a theoretical approach to theatre using various materials including visual, textual and audio.
- Renaissance Tragedy and Comedy - exposes you to key genres and plays such as Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside.
- A Work Placement module in drama - such as working at a local theatre or with a theatre company, experiencing arts administration or teaching first-hand - giving you valuable skills for your career post-graduation.
In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to further specialise in specific areas which also inform the cutting-edge research of your tutors. Modules include:
- People, Plays and Places - you’ll carry out detailed and performative research, building on issues of space, performance and historical context already encountered. You’ll focus specifically on Early Modern drama, for example performance at a specific place or time, such as Hampton Court Palace or the Rose Theatre in London.
- Spectacular Origins: Theatre, Madness and the Mind - theatre and science are deeply interwoven. In this largely practice-based module, you’ll examine those connections by exploring depictions of medicine, madness and science in dramatic and theatrical representation. Topics of interest may include the criminality on the stage, women, madness and psychiatry, and cognitive approaches to theatre and staging neuroscience.
- Staging the past: Histories, Memories and Imagination – this module explores the interplay between theatre, history, memory and imagination and questions the line between truth and perspective. You will investigate the ways in which writers and performers deploy received narratives, historical documents, personal testimony, and invented material as means of making theatre which dramatizes history, constructs biographies, and tells the stories of communities.
The Final Production module of your degree enables you to take part in a final performance, working on performing, directing, designing, and technical skills.
You may also elect to create a sustained
piece of written work by opting to undertake an interdisciplinary
dissertation in an area of your interest.
Modules designed to give you insights into
careers in the professional theatre are also included, and these are
supplemented by the specialist workshops provided by our creative consultants,
including Goat and Monkey Theatre.
You'll have the option to take a work placement module in your second year. This could involve working at a local theatre, with a theatre company, in arts administration or in teaching. Previous students have gained placements such as:
- Teaching in a local school
- Working backstage at a West End musical
- Working on a professional show with an arts company
- Working in marketing and arts administration
- Community engagement projects with Pegasus Theatre
The module involves 12 to 14 hours of direct teaching and learning (depending on the size of the cohort), as well as some online learning, additional email support, and assessment.
Students organise placements themselves, and Oxford Brookes Careers Centre is on hand to provide students with assistance in finding their own placements. Students are responsible for their own travel and associated costs, therefore it is advised that they organise placements bearing this in mind. Oxfordshire based placements, such as at Pegasus Theatre, are accessible via public transport – a trip which is included on the Brookes Bus route, whilst placements in London will incur higher travel costs. It is encouraged that students explore opportunities for their placement provider to cover travel costs if they opt for a placement which is not local.
You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year.
Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:
- increasing your employability within an international market
- boosting your language skills
- building your confidence in adapting to new situations
- improving your knowledge of different cultures.
While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.
We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.
There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.
For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.
Free language courses for students - the Open Module
Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.
Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.
There are a number of performance opportunities at Oxford Brookes. The Students' Union has two drama societies and there is also the chance to take part in activities in the city.
The drama department is involved in a number of community projects, and works in partnership with Pegasus Theatre. Pegasus has pioneered theatre and arts education work with young people in Oxford for the past 50 years. It offers studio theatre, rehearsal and dance studios, cafe and technical facilities which we can use.
Members of the department are actively involved in a number of local projects including consultancy with The Royal Shakespeare Company.
We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading this is at their own discretion.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes