You will study three core modules:
Social and Cultural History of Renaissance England A
Social and Cultural History of Renaissance England B
Materials and Critical Methods for Research.
You will also study two further modules, choosing from:
Plays and Poems A
Plays and Poems B
Shakespeare, Playwright and his Drama A
Shakespeare, Playwright and his Drama B
Assessment is based on four 4,000-word essays submitted during the first two semesters and four Research Skills exercises.
The second component of the programme is a 15,000 word dissertation on an agreed topic which may relate to any aspect of the historical or literary culture of the period. This will give you the chance to follow up topics which have particularly interested you, and should you wish to, you will have the opportunity to use the original documents held at the Birthplace Trust Archive. You will be assigned an appropriate supervisor and will have regular meetings to discuss the progress of your research and draft chapters.
You will also attend the Shakespeare Seminars held once a week during term-time at the Shakespeare Institute and the Early Modern Culture, Literature and Society Seminars held fortnightly in term time at the main Edgbaston campus. Both seminar series' feature papers presented by a range of established visiting scholars as well as Birmingham staff and students.
Visiting the Shakespeare Institute
We welcome prospective students to visit the Shakespeare Institute. We usually arrange visits to coincide with two of our weekly Thursday seminar series a term which gives you a good opportunity to experience the Shakespeare Institute and to meet our staff and students.
You will study the following core modules:
Social and Cultural History of Renaissance England A and B
These two modules give an introduction to the social and cultural history of the period, and focus specifically on issues relevant to Shakespeare's own life and drama. The subjects you will study include women's reputation, notions of honour and gentility, popular religious belief, material culture and witchcraft. We give particular emphasis to the ways in which these themes connect with life in Warwickshire and London, and the course often includes a field trip to study early modern houses or collections in the local area. The teaching for this course is provided by members of staff from the Department of History in the Centre of Reformation and Early Modern Studies.
Materials and Critical Methods for Research
You will be given essential training in research skills relating to the study of Shakespeare and local history, focusing on archival material relating to Stratford-upon-Avon. This module includes training in methods and materials for research on Shakespeare, covering topics such Shakespeare bibliography and criticism, and instruction in palaeography (reading early modern handwriting) and the use of a wide variety of types of early modern document relating to Stratford upon Avon. You have the chance to work with original documents for this section of the course, some of which have connections with Shakespeare and his family. The first part is taught by the fellows of the Shakespeare Institute, the second by the staff of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, including Dr Robert Bearman, who works on the local history of Warwickshire and Stratford in the early modern period, and Mairi MacDonald, an expert in Elizabethan palaeography
You will also study two optional modules, choosing from:
Shakespeare, the Playwright and his Drama A and B
Shakespeare's life and career are examined as a case study in the position of professional playwrights in early modern England. You will examine the way the theatre for which Shakespeare was writing worked - how plays were written, how play texts were circulated and the impact censorship had upon them. You will then be able to consider the relationship between Shakespeare's plays and the issues affecting his society, and to analyse the intervention the plays made in important social debates. These two modules can be studied individually or together.
Plays and Poems A
This module encourages youto engage with most of Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Poems. Each class will cover a topic relating to one or more texts, using individual student input, and group discussion and analysis. This module can be studied as a standalone module or with Play and Poems B.
Plays and Poems B
This module encourages you to engage with most of Shakespeare's Problem Plays, Tragedies and Late Plays. Each class will cover a topic relating to one or more texts, using individual student input, and group discussion and analysis. This module can only be studied with Plays and Poems A.
Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.