PhD with integrated study in Shakespeare and Creativity

This new programme, delivered by the Shakespeare Institute, combines taught modules with a full-length doctoral thesis. With a unique focus on Shakespeare and Creativity, it allows you to combine theatrical and academic study of Shakespeare’s life and work through a series of taught modules – assessed by both written work and performance pieces – with the full research training and experience of the traditional PhD.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught, doctoral research

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 4 years

Start date: September

Contact

Please complete our contact form and we will respond to your enquiry within two business days. Alternatively, you can contact us on +44 (0)121 414 9500 or by email: shakespeare@bham.ac.uk

Details

This programme combines academic, theatrical and civic interests in Shakespeare, generating a new, creative and forward-looking conversation about what Shakespeare is and can be. You will produce traditional academic written work as well as creative work, all of which will explore Shakespeare’s potential in the modern world.

You will complete 120 credits of taught modules, including four core modules as follows: [full module descriptions below]

  • Shakespearience
  • Shakespeare and Creative Practice
  • The Shakespeare Ensemble
  • Shakespeare and Society

Your remaining 40 credits – equivalent to two taught modules – can be chosen from a range of Shakespeare Institute modules.

Shakespearience and optional modules are each assessed by one 4000 word essay; Creative Practice, the Shakespeare Ensemble and Shakespeare and Society all combine shorter written assignments with creative work. 

Following completion of your taught modules, you will also produce a supervised 80000 word PhD thesis. 

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.

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Modules

You will study the following four core modules:

Shakespearience

This module considers the ways in which Shakespearean language and drama bears on experience, with a view to making the experience of Shakespeare more available to contemporary Shakespeare scholarship and creative practice. It is, above all, a shared experiment in experientially alert and susceptible close reading. In a series of intensively collaborative workshops, on the special course blog and in seminars, it will dwell and linger in Shakespeare’s language and stagecraft in order to explore how its complexity produces experiential meanings, in readers, audience members and in characters. “Shakespearience” will be about reading as process rather than product, and as such, at least potentially, experientially exciting and adventurous.

Shakespeare and Creative Practice

This module will provide you with experiential knowledge that will inform the way that you interrogate and interpret performance evidence in a variety of media. Through a series of workshops and performance assignments, you will explore three different systematic approaches to performing the language of Shakespeare: the first approach is rooted in the verse and text work of John Barton, Peter Hall, Cicely Berry and Patsy Rodenberg; the second approach explores the legacy of Stanislavski in the Shakespearean work of 20th/21st century practitioners including Katie Mitchell and Mike Alfreds; the third approach brings the devising techniques of prominent physical theatre practitioners to a creative examination of Shakespeare’s text.

The Shakespeare Ensemble

In this module you will work as part of an ensemble of creative artists – actors, directors, writers, designers – exploring and testing the theory and practice of performing Shakespeare today, culminating in an assessed performance of a re-imagined Shakespearean text. The module seeks to equip students with a range of skills pertaining to creating a new piece of work - creative dramatic writing, devising as an ensemble and music in the ensemble as well as including sessions with the RSC on new writing, the ensemble, design and lighting.

Shakespeare and Society

Featuring tuition from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the new Birmingham Library (which has an important civic Shakespeare collection and premises), this module explores and tests the scope for bringing Shakespeare into the world beyond the academy and the theatre. You will undertake focused study of Shakespearean civic creativity from Garrick's 1769 Jubilee onwards before producing your own piece of civic creativity inspired by Shakespeare. View Shakespeare Unbard – a film of work developed for performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company produced by Shakespeare and Creativity students in 2013 as part of this module. Next year's work will involve a similar project in collaboration with the RSC.

You will also choose two optional modules from the following:

History of Shakespeare in Performance

This module will consider trends of acting and directing Shakespeare from the Restoration to the present day, and will exploit the Stratford archives to undertake studies of individual actors and directors from the eighteenth century onwards. Subjects of study might include Colley Cibber, David Garrick, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook, John Barton and Sam Mendes. There will be opportunities to analyse and interpret primary evidence and to consider the cultural context(s) of performance. Plays studied include some or all of Richard III, Hamlet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Shakespeare’s Legacy

This module considers the adaptation and appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays, persona, and possessions from the seventeenth century to the present day. It pays special attention to how changes in theatre practice, aesthetic tastes, politics, and commercial markets have shaped the history of Shakespeare’s ‘afterlife’. Plays studied include some or all of King Lear, The Tempest, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure.

Shakespeare’s Craftsmanship

This module focuses on the construction of Shakespeare's plays and considers the manipulation of source material and genre, the structuring of the dramatic narrative and the use of language for dramatic function and effect. Plays studied include Romeo and Juliet, Measure for Measure, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and The Winter's Tale.

Shakespeare’s Text

The module will develop a critical awareness of the textual foundations of Shakespeare's plays. Topics covered include: the relationship between a modern edition of a play and the earliest printed texts, the nature of the printing process that first made the plays available to readers of books, the characteristics of Shakespeare's dramatic composition, the treatment of the text in the theatre (including censorship, revision and adaptation), and Shakespeare as a collaborator. Plays studied include some or all of Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Sir Thomas More, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, King Lear, Measure for Measure, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Timon of Athens

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are as follows:

  • Home/EU: £4,496 full-time
  • Overseas: £13,065 full-time

Learn more about fees and funding 

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

We ask that you supply evidence of either:

  • A bachelors degree (2:1) in a relevant field

OR

  • 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 addition to the usual supporting documents, all applications must also be supported by:

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A cover letter which indicates your creative potential, either proposing specific creative projects you intend to pursue on the MA or reflecting on your existing creative work.  In particular, the cover letter 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?

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

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:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Contact

Please complete our contact form and we will respond to your enquiry within two business days. Alternatively, you can contact us on +44 (0)121 414 9500 or by email: shakespeare@bham.ac.uk

Related news and events

Learning and teaching

A postgraduate seminar in the Shakespeare Institute

This programme will make use of the unrivalled resources of Shakespeare’s Stratford, involving expert tuition from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and benefiting from a partnership with the new Library of Birmingham.

You 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.

Interviews with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Library of Birmingham and the Royal Shakespeare Company

Research interests of staff

Shakespeare in performance; Shakespeare in culture since 1623; Shakespeare and opera; the writings, representation and reputation of Elizabeth I; notions of authorship and nation; the representation of Shakespeare
Contact: Professor Michael Dobson
Director of The Shakespeare Institute and Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9508
Email: m.dobson@bham.ac.uk

Bibliography, editing, textual criticism, textual theory, Renaissance theatre culture and print culture, and Shakespeare’s contemporary dramatists
Contact: Professor John Jowett
Deputy Director and Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9507
Email: j.d.jowett@bham.ac.uk

Literature and experience, religion, philosophy, and creativity; aesthetics; Shakespeare and poetry; Shakespeare in conjunction with great art and thought from other times and places
Contact: Professor Ewan Fernie
Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Tel: + 44 (0) 121 4149506
Email: e.fernie@bham.ac.uk

The full corpus of dramatic works written in the British Isles, and by ‘British’ authors overseas, between the English Reformation and the English Revolution, including both commercial and literary plays, masques and entertainments, and drama in Latin, Greek, Cornish, and Welsh
Contact: Dr Martin Wiggins
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9514
Email: m.j.wiggins@bham.ac.uk

Medical and religious beliefs in early modern England, in particular their intersection. The body and metaphor, illness narratives, early modern life writings, the history of human experience. Shakespeare’s cultural legacy.
Contact: Dr Erin Sullivan
Tel: +44 (0121) 4149513
Email: e.sullivan@bham.ac.uk

Cultural history, visual arts and material culture of early modern Britain; Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture.
Contact: Dr Tara Hamling c/o Department of Modern History
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 9510
Email:t.j.hamling@bham.ac.uk

Associated Members of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies:

Ben Jonson and his contemporaries; The relationships of Renaissance and Romantic writers; The relationships of manuscript and print; Early modern poetry and drama.
Contact: Dr Tom Lockwoodc/o Department of English
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 2763
Email: t.e.lockwood@bham.ac.uk

Women's writing in the 17th century; Manuscript Studies; History of Translation.
Contact: Dr Gillian Wrightc/o Department of English
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5671
Email: g.wright.1@bham.ac.uk

Shakespearean performance, Anglo-European theatrical relationships, Victorian and Edwardian theatre and the History of Film.
Contact: Professor Russell Jackson c/o Department of Drama and Theatre Arts
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5790
Email:r.b.jackson@bham.ac.uk

Contact

Please complete our contact form and we will respond to your enquiry within two business days. Alternatively, you can contact us on +44 (0)121 414 9500 or by email: shakespeare@bham.ac.uk

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Over the last five years, 100% of postgraduates from our Shakespeare Institute have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation. This programme in particular offers a credible qualification to those wishing to work in professions related to the theatre, as well as providing the foundations for a career in academia.

Contact

Please complete our contact form and we will respond to your enquiry within two business days. Alternatively, you can contact us on +44 (0)121 414 9500 or by email: shakespeare@bham.ac.uk