Do you want to immerse yourself in the works of Shakespeare? Are you interested in understanding how Shakespeare’s plays work in performance?
This innovative Shakespeare Institute programme allows you to study the performance history but also the way in which Shakespeare’s plays have been performed through history, up to the modern moment. It encourages a historical approach to interpretation and styles of presentation and it promotes the value of close reading as the basis for evaluating the plays on the page, stage, and screen. You will have the opportunity to look at different productions and adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in their historical, political, and cultural contexts and to think about the performance choices actors and directors make when approaching Shakespeare’s texts. You can also study how the textual history of Shakespeare’s plays influences performance today.
You can study on-site at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon or by distance learning.
You will study two core modules:
- Shakespeare’s Theatre
- Research Skills
You will also choose four optional modules (see module information below).
The flexible structure of this course allows study in a wide variety of ways, on a full- or part-time basis. Modules are available to study through a variety of routes that may include:
- Three long weekends at the Shakespeare Institute at approximately monthly intervals
- One day a week throughout a semester at the Shakespeare Institute (ten days).
- Distance-learning option via online study.
Full-time study is on site in Stratford-upon-Avon and part-time students can choose to study the whole programme either on site, via online distance learning or a combination of the two. You are also encouraged to visit the theatre and cinema to benefit from the excitement of Shakespeare's plays in performance.
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. While completing all six taught modules will lead to a Diploma-level qualification, MA students will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.
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.
- Practical elements of the programme – a real focus throughout the MA is not just about reading Shakespeare’s plays but also getting up on your feet and exploring Shakespeare plays by doing them.
- Flexibility – you are able to study full-time or part-time, or by distance learning, to fit your studies into your schedule.
- Become part of a vibrant and active community – as a dedicated graduate school, the Shakespeare Institute provides an intense learning experience in the study of Shakespeare from a range of rich perspectives. From productions, play-reading, choirs to weekly seminars there is never a dull moment at the Shakespeare Institute. And for our distance learning route, students will also very quickly find themselves part of this exciting community with significant email contact from academic staff.
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.
Hear from our students
Learning and Teaching
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.
Studying by distance learning
Many of the programme’s modules are also available via distance learning, meaning that you can study online from anywhere in the world. Distance learning modules will combine print, audio, and video teaching methods in order to give students a varied and enriching educational experience.
Although self-study is central to doing a programme by distance learning, support is always available.
You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you have access to a wide range of online resources too. You also have the opportunity to meet other students and academic staff through online chats and discussion forums.
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).
There are two admission routes to the programme:
- Those who have a 2:1 degree in an appropriate subject or the Certificate of HE in Shakespeare Studies register for the MA.
- Those who do not meet these formal admission requirements register initially as ‘Affiliate' students and then change status on the successful completion of the two core modules.
In addition to the usual supporting documents, all applications must be supported by 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.
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