New programmes in Shakespeare and Creativity

Posted on Wednesday 9th January 2013

We have just launched two new postgraduate programmes – at MA and PhD level – which have a unique focus on Shakespeare and creativity, allowing you to combine theatrical and academic study of Shakespeare’s life and work.

Relevant to actors, directors and arts administrators, as well as anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, the flexible structure of both qualifications will mean you can tailor the course to your specific interests.

We are offering an MA and a PhD with Integrated Study, both of which feature four core taught modules: Shakespearience; Shakespeare and Creative Practice; The Shakespeare Ensemble; and Shakespeare and Society.

The programmes also include two optional modules from a range which includes: History of Shakespeare in Performance; Shakespeare’s Legacy; Shakespeare’s Craftsmanship; and Shakespeare’s Text.

Assessments will include both creative and academic tasks, and both programmes include a research element; the MA will be completed with a 15,000-word dissertation, while the PhD will culminate in a full-length (80,000-word) doctoral dissertation.

Learning and teaching

These programmes 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.

They will also draw upon the expertise of key members of the Shakespeare Institute team:

Ewan Fernie, co-convenor

Ewan Fernie

I’m hugely excited by our distinctive new programmes in Shakespeare and Creativity, which take full advantage of the fact of our centrality at the world-capital of the Shakespeare industry in Stratford. 

I bring to the programmes a commitment to finding more creative ways of writing criticism, as evidenced in my latest book, The Demonic: Literature and Experience (Routledge). I also co-edit the innovative Shakespeare Now! series published by Arden, as well as writing creatively myself.

And I am very interested in the role that the great literature of the past might play in our wider world today: the focus of the ‘Shakespeare in Society’ module in the new programmes.  I recently co-wrote a celebration of England and St George based on a great epic poem by one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries: Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. Our new work, entitled Redcrosse (Bloomsbury), was performed by the RSC in Coventry Cathedral for the Cathedral’s 50th anniversary in 2012.

Abigail Rokison, co-convenor

Abigail Rokison

I am thrilled to be involved with such exciting and innovative programmes. The combination of practical work and academic study fits perfectly with my own experience as a professional actor turned Shakespeare lecturer. I hope to be able to bring to the courses my experience of professional theatre and my research in areas of performance.

I hope that the programmes will enable students to gain various skills pertaining to performance and to use these to create truly original pieces of theatre, which may have a life beyond the academy.

The Shakespeare and Creative practice module enables students to explore a range of theatrical approaches to Shakespeare's work including those of respected Shakespeare practitioners like Peter Hall and John Barton; practitioners working in the tradition of Stanislavski; and those working with physical theatre techniques. 

The Shakespeare Ensemble module, which leads to students creating a piece of theatre based on Shakespeare's work, will offer students an opportunity to explore exercises in working as an ensemble, writing for the theatre, creating music and sound effects, design, voice and movement. 

Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute

Professor Michael Dobson

With these ground-breaking new courses opening up, with our work assisting the Royal Shakespeare Company developing across many fronts and with the preparations for our major role in the global celebrations that will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 now well in hand, there has never been a more exciting time to come to the Shakespeare Institute.  

Here in the midst of a community of scholars collectively engaged in every aspect of Shakespearean study – social and cultural history, live performance (the Shakespeare Institute Players celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2013 with a fresh production of the first play they ever staged, A Yorkshire Tragedy), editorial theory and practice, criticism, stage history – students can now have their own creativity fuelled by that of Shakespeare, as well as their scholarly acumen. 

Further information

Both programmes are now open for applications for entry in September 2013. For more information or to apply, visit the online prospectus: