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MA Performing Shakespeare

Course Description

The MA in Performing Shakespeare is designed for students interested in the performance of Shakespeare and who want to study both original and contemporary practices of Shakespeare’s theatre. The course uses traditional and practice-based research methods for learning and offers an MA degree with choice of thesis project; written or practice-based.

The MA in Performing Shakespeare offers postgraduate students an opportunity to combine practical and contextual study to develop their expertise as artists and educators of Shakespeare. It draws upon:

• Practice-based learning
• Staff who are highly regarded specialists
• Unique flexible delivery model
• Excellent links with industry

Course structure and content

The MA in Performing Shakespeare introduces you to the historic and contemporary practices of performing Shakespeare. The course uses traditional and practice-based research methods and offers the choice of thesis project, written or practical. Regardless of which thesis project you choose, you will benefit from our links with industry specialists, resident scholars and educational opportunities with professional companies like Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

This course gives you the opportunity to creatively apply Shakespeare performance practices to your own work and ideas, and will aid in developing your autonomous and collaborative learning and performance skills. You are also able to explore Shakespeare in-depth through a variety of research methods and are given the support and freedom to build upon your practice and research profile by completing a written dissertation or developing a Shakespeare project from start to finish. These experiences are valuable for developing actors, directors, educators, scholars and Shakespeare enthusiasts. The course will equip you with the knowledge, skills and experience to pursue a professional career in the study and/or practice of performing Shakespeare.

Most of the contact hours and foundational skills classes, workshops, seminars, and lectures take place in the first trimester (usually October – February) and these classes are likely to be scheduled in afternoon-late evening hour slots (depending on each specialist’s availability). The Second trimester (beginning about mid February) usually begins with a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the RSC in Stratford Upon Avon (both visits could be up to a week or more depending on each company’s schedule). You will find that after these off-site visits (at about March) that most of your work will be primarily independent and via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), leading into your final dissertation work; which can be produced independently and remotely should you wish. It is suggested that you prepare to be resident in Bath from October until March (depending on course scheduling) but that there will be more flexibility in your schedules as the course moves through each trimester leading to your dissertation.


Research Methods and Shakespeare Studies (30 Credits AT7000)
This module introduces you to key study skills and current historical/critical considerations of Shakespeare’s canon. The module offers a broad overview of research methodology and postgraduate research skills as a step towards either your thesis dissertation or practical dissertation project. It also functions as a key Masters level module, enabling further postgraduate research and opportunities to collaborate with postgraduate students also studying in the area of Performing Arts. The module will also explore and reflect upon a critical analysis of existing works, ideas and trends in the study of Shakespeare in a written research submission you will prepare and present for dissemination.

Shakespeare in Play and Practice 1 (30 Credits AT7001)
This is a highly practical module in which you will learn a range of foundational performance skills from BSU and external specialists in the industry and study how such skills relate to the performing of Shakespeare’s plays. Foundational performance skills will be taught such as acting, voice and movement (including stage combat). In addition, other skills and specialisms may be studied including comedy and music. You will also study and perform extracts (monologues and scenes) from Shakespeare’s plays in order to demonstrate your skills through practice and knowledge sharing.

Shakespeare in Play and Practice 2 (30 Credits AT7002)
This module is a highly practical module in which you will learn a wide range of performance skills taught by Bath Spa and external specialists in the industry. Foundational performance skills will be taught such as acting, directing, staging and voice. In addition, other technical skills may be taught including Clowning and Fooling, Stage Combat, Movement and Music. The module is taught through mostly workshops and seminars, and assessments may include presentations, performances and productions (directed and self-directed).

Shakespeare and the Globe (30 Credits AT7003)
This module covers the theoretical, historical and practical research of Shakespeare’s Theatre in classic and contemporary contexts. The module includes specialist lectures and off-site visits with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the RSC. You will engage in independent study on topics introduced through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and assessments may include performance projects, research assignments, literature reviews, performance reviews, and other assignments tied to your learning experience.

Performing Shakespeare Thesis (60 Credits AT7004)
In this module you will choose one of two thesis projects leading to an MA degree. If you choose the written MA project you will identify and undertake a research thesis topic that will culminate in a 13,000 word dissertation. If you choose the practice-based project you will undertake a major professional quality performance project and submit a supporting research portfolio. Tutorials to prepare for this thesis module may be conducted in the second trimester or early in the third. In this module you will engage in independent study/practice in order to develop your autonomous research and/or professional practice. You will be further supported through tutorials, meetings and the VLE.


• Dr Terri Power (Course Director) – Performing and Staging Shakespeare
• Dr. Matthew Spring – Elizabethan Music
• Mark Langley – Voice Specialist
• Gordon Kemp – Stage Combat
• Pat Welsh – Comedy Specialist
• Dr Laura Purcell Gates – Movement Specialist
• And guest lecturers and artists

Visit the MA Performing Shakespeare page on the Bath Spa University website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

Prospective students will have a proven academic and/or professional profile. Students should have a good first degree and some knowledge and experience of theatre, acting and Shakespeare. Candidates for the course will be asked to demonstrate their foundational skills and knowledge through audition, interview or both. Overseas students may be asked to send a recorded audition and the interview may be conducted over the telephone or via Skype.Students accepted onto the programme are expected to work often in teams, in collaboration with students, staff, researchers, and industry professionals and, therefore, their personal profile and recommendations will be strongly considered.

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