This programme offers a unique approach to the study of Shakespeare’s life and work, fusing traditional scholarly approaches with the thrill of being involved in new creative work. It is delivered by and taught at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.
It makes the most of the unrivalled resources of Shakespeare’s Stratford and involves expert tuition from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Library of Birmingham. The programme is particularly enhanced by the Institute's collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), offering unique and extensive opportunities to work on its premises with RSC artists.
This programme will attract aspiring academics, actors, writers, directors, arts administrators, as well as anyone with a lively interest in Shakespeare.
This programme brings together academic, theatrical and civic interests in Shakespeare and creativity, generating a comprehensive and forward-looking conversation about what Shakespeare is and can be in today's world.
You will produce traditional academic essays as well as creative work, all of which will explore Shakespeare’s potential in the modern world. You will make new creative work with and at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and benefit from unique and exciting access to the RSC's studio theatre, The Other Place.
You will study four core modules:
- Shakespeare and Theatre Practice (formerly Shakespeare and Creative Practice)
- The Shakespeare Ensemble
- Shakespeare and Society
You will choose two optional modules from a range of Shakespeare Institute modules.
You will also attend weekly Thursday Seminars at the Shakespeare Institute (term-time only), which feature papers presented by a range of established visiting scholars as well as Institute and University of Birmingham staff.
Shakespearience and optional modules are each assessed by written assignment; Shakespeare and Theatre Practice is assessed by either two performance assignments and a 2,000-word research paper, or a 4,000-word research paper; Shakespeare Ensemble and Shakespeare and Society both combine shorter written assignments with creative work.
You will complete the MA with a 15,000-word dissertation. For your dissertation, you will have the chance to work intensively on an RSC project at The Other Place theatre.
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 Shakespeare's 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. To find out more, you can listen to some of our students talking about their experiences of the collaboration.
- Access to fantastic resources – you will be surrounded by a number of resources. 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.
- Be a part of 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.
- Attend 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
This programme will make use of the unrivalled resources of Shakespeare’s Stratford, involving expert sessions from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Library of Birmingham.
It also particularly benefits from the Institute's collaboration with the RSC, offering unique and extensive opportunities to work with the Company and at The Other Place. Students will also have access to the Shakespeare Institute Library, the Library of the Shakespeare Centre that curates the archives of the RSC, and the Shakespeare Collection held at the Library of Birmingham.
The programmes will also draw upon the expertise of key members of the Shakespeare Institute team: co-convenors Professor Ewan Fernie and Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall; and Director of the Shakespeare Institute, Professor Michael Dobson.
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).
We ask that you supply evidence of either:
- A bachelors degree (2:1) in a relevant field
- Relevant professional experience. This should be demonstrated in a portfolio which catalogues and contextualises your work in a relevant field (e.g. catalogue of a recent art installation, actor’s CV, transcript giving indication of professional training, web-based archive of recent work, folio of published poems, etc)
In your application, you should use your personal statement to indicate your creative potential, either proposing specific creative projects you intend to pursue on the MA or reflecting on your existing creative work. This can be up to 5,000 characters in length. In particular, your statement should address the following research questions:
- What were/are the objectives of the piece, and why? What obstacles did you/might you encounter? How might these have been/be avoided?
- To what tradition does this piece belong? To what critical conversations or bodies of practice does it contribute? What does it contribute to them?
- What are its implications for future work? What does/might your work initiate in the field of Shakespeare studies more generally?
All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. This must be provided when you make your application or within no more than two weeks of submitting your application to us. If this is not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined. This should be a sample of written work on Shakespeare of around 2,000 words. If you do not have an existing piece of writing to submit, please take a short passage of up to 60 lines from any Shakespeare play and write an essay of around 2,000 words which discusses the performance possibilities of this extract and how it contributes to the play as a whole.
Your application must also be supported by two letters of recommendation, either from academics or equivalent authorities from creative industries as appropriate.
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