BA Drama and English Language

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Drama is all about bringing the word on the page to life, interpreting language through speech and performance. English Language too focuses on the spoken and written word, giving you an extra layer of understanding to help bring your Drama studies to life. Ranked 6th in the Guardian League table in 2013, the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham has a national and international reputation for excellence in teaching and research in the study of Drama. Meanwhile, your English studies draw on the University’s internationally- recognised strength in corpus linguistics, grammar, stylistics, discourse analysis and applied linguistics. Whatever career you choose to pursue, we will guide and support you to become a confident and accomplished reader, researcher, writer and performer, with excellent career prospects.

Course fact file

UCAS code: QW34

Duration: 3 Years

Typical Offer: AAB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in Drama and half in English Language (60 credits)

First year

Drama: This is a foundation year and helps students acquire a common language of analysis and performance. Practical courses are offered in Theatre Practices (physical approaches and Stanislavski-based techniques), Theoretical courses include the Dramatic Medium.

Detailed first year BA Drama and Theatre Arts undergraduate modules

English Language: In two linked modules, Language Works, you will be introduced to a range of topics in English Language study, including the phonology (sound system) of English, its morphology (word formation) and grammar; children’s language development; discourse analysis, both spoken and written; and social issues, such as attitudes towards language and its role in education. You will also learn how to carry out research on English language topics.

Second Year

Drama: The second year builds on the foundation work of the first year and also provides opportunities to develop practical specialisms in areas such as:

  • Directing
  • Playwriting
  • Physical Theatre
  • Advanced Acting
  • Mask and Mime

As well as choosing study options in subjects as diverse as:

  • Shakespeare on Film
  • Performing Objects – Puppets
  • Automata
  • Robots
  • Melodrama
  • Contemporary Performance

Practical modules are taught by core staff and visiting professional practitioners; study modules are taught by academic staff who are researching and publishing in that particular field of inquiry.

Detailed second year BA Drama and Theatre Arts undergraduate modules

English Language: In this year you can choose to take either two linked modules, which, following on from first year work, provide a thorough grounding in technical aspects of the language, concentrating on English phonology and morphology, and then English grammar; or you can choose two modules from a range including History of the English Language; Talk and Text, which provides in-depth analyses of different kinds of spoken interaction; and Language Acquisition, Variation and Change, which studies how these processes happen and what enables them. In addition, you will take the module Research Skills in English Language, which is designed to develop your group and individual research skills by guiding you in such tasks as carrying out a literature review, collecting and analysing data, and presenting your results orally, as well as reporting on your research in writing.

Final Year

Drama: A wide variety of practical options are available, such as:

  • Directing
  • Playwriting
  • Creative Industries
  • Contemporary Performance

In addition, students can opt to take part in one of a series of public performances as one of their major practical options. These productions are directed by experienced members of staff or visiting professional directors and are supported by our full-time production staff and theatre crafts students. They can range from contemporary or historical texts, to devised, site-specific pieces, to theatre in education productions. Study options are diverse and include:

  • Popular Theatre
  • Contemporary Theatre
  • Shakespeare on Film
  • Performing Objects: (Automata)

Detailed third year BA Drama and Theatre Arts undergraduate modules

English Language: You will now be able to choose from a wide range of optional modules on such topics as The Politics of English; Discourse and Society; English Language Teaching; Linguistic Theory; Narrative Analysis, Ordinary Creativity, and Words. Your degree builds to a final-year dissertation, a research project which you will carry out independently but under supervision: you will select your own topic for research, collect data, assimilate relevant literature and construct a substantial report on the project, showing judgement and persuasiveness.

Why study this course

Our Drama and Theatre Arts programme aims to provide you with a grounding in the arts involved in performance and theatre. We offer a combination of core courses in practical and theoretical aspects of the subject. In a Joint Honours degree you can study drama together with another subject, which has equal weighting in terms of commitment and assessment to your work in Drama and Theatre Arts.

  • The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham has a national and international reputation for excellence in teaching and research in the study of Drama. The department was ranked 7th in the Guardian League table in 2012.
  • Birmingham is an ideal location to study Drama with more theatres in the city than anywhere else in the UK outside of London. Staff and students have close links with these theatres and there is the option to take part in work experience with the Birmingham Rep and Hippodrome theatres.
  • Our Drama and Theatre Arts course aims to provide you with a grounding in the arts involved in performance and theatre. We offer a combination of core courses in practical and theoretical aspects of the subject. There are work familiarisation opportunities with the BBC Drama Village which is on the Selly Oak campus.
  • Third-year students can opt to take part in one of a series of public performances as one of their major practical options.
  • The Guild has 9 different drama and theatre student societies including Article 19 theatre (who run two or three productions a term), Comedy Footnotes (for those interested in stand up comedy), Guild Musical Theatre Group, Infinity Stage Company (who are charity based and get involved in volunteer work), Three Bugs Fringe Group (host socials and take a play to the Edinburgh Festival) and Watch This (who produce original and experimental plays).

Drama open day talk

Dr Adam Ledger delivers the Drama and Theatre Arts June 2013 undergraduate open day talk.

The English language half of your programme engages with the structure and character of the language including:

  • Phonology, lexis, grammar, and discourse
  • The variation of the English language
  • Theories and methods of linguistics
  • Methodologies and practices of linguistic research
  • The history and development of the English language

You will gain a broad range of knowledge and understanding of the English language, and critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts.

English at undergraduate level

English Language open day talk

Dr Jeanette Littlemore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham.

 

Joint honours open day talk

Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: A level Drama or Theatre Studies is desirable but not essential. If taken, it will be requested at grade B. Grade A in A level English Language or in English Language and Literature is preferred. However, applicants with an A level English Literature or a foreign language will be considered.

Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com

Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Practical classes and workshops form a large part of the programme and are essential for helping you to gain skills in performance and devising techniques. They involve input from tutors and project-based small-group work, culminating in performances or fulfilling production tasks.

Theatre crafts classes also give you valuable technical skills in theatre production.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Employability

Drama

[Video above - Dr Adam Ledger discusses careers and employability during the Drama and Theatre Arts open day presentation]

As a student of Drama and Theatre Arts you will develop your confidence and fantastic skills for your future career, such as presentation, communication and teamwork skills. Many students who study this course are interested in careers in the arts sector and here at the University of Birmingham we have great links with local arts organisations, as well as producing a broad programme of our own performances each year.

Drama and Theatre Arts graduates from Birmingham have a higher than average rate for employability for the subject, and we’re ranked in the top ten universities nationally for graduate employability. 90% of our Drama graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation, with 75% in a professional or managerial job. Our graduates start careers with employers including the BBC, the RSC, The National Theatre, The Birmingham Hippodrome and The Royal Court Theatre, in roles such as theatre choreographer, drama teacher, performing arts tutor and TV production assistant director. But working directly in the arts isn’t your only option; recent graduates have also gone into marketing, events organisation, teaching and writing.

Famous University of Birmingham alumni include:

  • Phyllida Lloyd, BA English and Drama, 1979: Director of plays, opera and film including Mamma Mia! on stage and screen and the recent film The Iron Lady.
  • Victoria Wood, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1974: comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and director.
  • Ben Shephard, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1997: television presenter currently working for Sky Sports and ITV.
  • Stuart Blackburn, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1987: Current Series Producer of Emmerdale at ITV.
  • Pippa Evans, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2004: comedienne - arrived on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 and nominated for Best Newcomer

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. The Department also has a long-established relationship with the BBC which has led to work experience placements being offered to our students, and we’re developing links with local arts organisations to provide more amazing opportunities.

We encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can also apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ scheme to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation at organisations such as the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Internships

English Language

[Video above - Dr Alison Sealey discusses careers and employability during the English Language open day presentation]

Studying for an English Language BA at Birmingham is an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with a diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression – skills that last a lifetime and qualify you for many possible careers. You will also be encouraged to acquire practical skills that you’ll find just as useful in your future career, including oral presentation, professional documentation, group work and the uses of information technology.

The structure of the English Language programme allows you to pursue potential career areas by developing relevant skills and expertise that will be relevant to future employers. There are four possible pathways, although you are not committed to a particular one, which allow you to make informed choices in your module selection in the second- and third-year of the course.

50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and English Language graduates enter a wide range of careers including advertising, journalism and media, government, law, publishing and teaching at every level. About 19% of English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

English Language graduates from the University of Birmingham have excellent prospects after graduation. 92% of our English graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation, with 75% immediately entering managerial and professional roles, which is amongst the highest percentages for graduate employability in this subject. Our graduates have started careers with employers including media companies, educational institutions, local councils, publishers, charities and a wide range of large commercial organisations, in roles such as marketing coordinator, editorial assistant, creative advertising account executive, recruitment consultant and parliamentary caseworker.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. Our ‘Creative careers’ series is always popular with our students, and features events with employers and professionals from areas such as advertising, PR and communications, careers in journalism, publishing and writing, and careers in the theatre.

As a School, we also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities; we’re developing links with local arts organisations to create some amazing opportunities for students; and you can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid.

Our English alumni profiles

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.