This programme, delivered by and taught at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, offers an unrivalled opportunity for the study of Shakespeare.
It develops a critical but appreciative understanding of Shakespeare’s contribution to literary and theatrical history, and the place his works occupy in today’s cultural landscape. It provides you with a rigorous and wide-ranging knowledge of approaches to the study of Shakespeare, with emphasis on criticism, textual studies, the plays in performance, and the history of Shakespeare's reception. It has proved invaluable for students heading towards a variety of careers, and it provides a solid foundation for research at a higher level.
The dynamism of Shakespeare studies owes much to the sheer diversity of critical, theatrical, and historical approaches.
It offers sustained study in a variety of fields, drawing on the special interests of a dedicated team of Shakespeare scholars.
You will study four core modules:
- Plays and Poems of Shakespeare A
- Plays and Poems of Shakespeare B
- Textual Studies in Shakespeare
- Research Skills in Shakespeare
You will also take one module in performance studies, chosen from the following:
- History of Shakespeare in Performance
- Shakespeare and Early Modern Playhouse Culture
- Shakespeare and Theatre Practice
- Shakespeare's Legacy
You will also choose one optional module from a range of Shakespeare Institute modules. Full module descriptions are available below.
You will also attend Thursday Seminars held once a week during term-time at the Shakespeare Institute which feature papers presented by a range of established visiting scholars as well as fellows of the Shakespeare Institute and other University of Birmingham academic staff.
Each module is assessed by written assignment with the exception of the optional module in Shakespeare and Theatre Practice, which is assessed by either two performance assignments and a 2,000-word research paper, or by one 4,000-word research paper.
You will also submit a 15,000-word dissertation at the end of the programme. The dissertation will focus on a relevant topic of your choice, agreed with the programme convenor earlier in the year.
Explore the Shakespeare Institute
- View our interactive virtual tour of the Shakespeare Institute
Why study this course
- Location – studying at the Shakespeare Institute in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon offers you an academic experience unequalled by any other university. You will study within walking distance of Shakespeare's birthplace, school and grave, and the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
- Shakespeare Institute and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) collaboration – you will benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the RSC at The Other Place which has seen the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre. You will be able to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners.
- Access to fantastic resources – you will be surrounded by a number of resources to develop your learning. The Shakespeare Institute’s own library is a renowned collection of international importance and you will also have access to the outstanding picture collections, records and library holdings of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
- A vibrant and active community – the Institute provides an intense learning experience in the study of Shakespeare from a range of perspectives, with the support and encouragement of the Institute’s staff, who are all respected in their own field.
- Postgraduate conferences – the Institute plays host to a number of national and international conferences. The highlight of the academic year is the annual Britgrad conference organised by students for students. You will be able to join postgraduate students from all over the world to give and hear short papers on all aspects of Shakespeare and early modern drama. Britgrad provides a unique opportunity for graduate students to share their work with their peers and to hear what other graduates in similar and related fields are working on.
The postgraduate experienceThe Shakespeare Institute is a postgraduate-only department, offering dedicated support and resources to its students. The Institute is home to teaching space, study space and a dedicated Shakespeare library, plus a range of events and activities including Thursday seminars, the annual Britgrad conference and performances from the Shakespeare Institute players. Learn more about life at the Shakespeare Institute.
Learning and Teaching
Full-time students attend formal seminars totalling 5-8 hours per week.
In addition, all students are expected to attend the weekly Thursday Seminar for all Institute members. Please note that this programme is only available on campus, and cannot be studied by distance learning.
The programme allows access to the unique Shakespearian resources of the Shakespeare Institute Library, the Library of the Shakespeare Centre that curates the archives of the RSC, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Study materials for this programme are enhanced by the close ties that the Shakespeare Institute has with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the archives associated with both of these institutions.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
In addition to the usual supporting documents, when you apply for this course we ask you to submit an example of your written work; this will preferably be an essay on Shakespeare, of about 2,000 words. If you do not have a piece of work that is of the right length it is better to send something that is longer rather than shorter so that we have a better chance to assess your critical writing on a literary topic.
Not everyone has written at any length on Shakespeare at the time they apply, and we are therefore prepared to assess an applicant's work on another literary topic if necessary. Ideally this would be based on a comparable subject (e.g. on drama, or on another author of Shakespeare's time), but of course, you will also want to choose something that gives a fair representation of your work. If you would like to discuss which piece to send, please contact Professor John Jowett directly.
We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
- by holding an English language qualification to the right level
- by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
This school offers programs in:
Last updated March 12, 2018