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Course content

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.

Course details

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. 

Assessment

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

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).

Employability

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Shakespeare Studies

Postgraduates at the Shakespeare Institute are able to develop a broad range of creative, research and theatre skills, as well as in-depth subject knowledge.

Over the past two years, over 93% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation.

In recent years, our postgraduates have successfully entered a variety of sectors from teaching in secondary and higher education to performing arts, publishing, museums and library and archive work. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: National Trust; Royal Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; Shakespeare's Globe, University of Birmingham and University of Oxford.


Visit the Shakespeare Studies - MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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