BA Drama and English

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If you have a passion for exploring culture, performance and society, this is the perfect degree programme for you. On the Drama side of your programme you will receive a thorough grounding in the practice and theory of the discipline, equipping you with an understanding of theatre-making processes as well as the historical and political context of theatre. Your option modules provide the opportunity to specialise in areas of interest, and explore different practical techniques and aspects of theatre. In your final year you have the opportunity to perform in one of the Department’s large-scale professional-quality productions.

On the English side of your programme you can choose to follow either a Literature or Language pathway throughout the three years of the programme. If you choose to follow the Literature pathway you will explore the written word from medieval to modern times, investigating the ways in which the literary culture of the English-speaking world throughout history has engaged with and shaped society. If you choose to follow the Language pathway, your English study will provide you with a deep understanding of the way in which the English language works and, more generally, the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language and its use. Both disciplines interrelate very well with the study and practice of Drama; opportunities to integrate the two subjects in your programme include the option of writing a lengthy final-year ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.

Course fact file

UCAS code: WQ43

Duration: 3 Years

Places Available: 30

Applications in 2013: 167

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

Start date: September


Our Joint Honours Drama and English programme offers you the opportunity to combine Drama with one of two English pathways, either Literature or Language.

Your first year of study is split equally between Drama and English (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have flexible options to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both of years 2 and 3, or stay with the 60/60 balance.

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.

English pathways

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:

  • Acting
  • Collaborative Strategies
  • Mask
  • Voice

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

  • The Dark Comedy
  • Modern Drama: Ibsen to Pinter
  • Popular Performance
  • Shakespeare on Screen

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.

English pathways

Final year

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

  • Advanced Theatre Crafts
  • Contemporary Practice
  • Directing
  • Playwriting
  • Site-specific
  • Systematic Stanislavski
  • Theatre in Education

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 (four per academic year) 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, and theatre in education productions.

Study options are diverse and include:

  • Adaptation
  • Performing Classic Comedy
  • Political Performances
  • Playwright’s Theatre
  • Theatres on Film
  • The Creative Industries
  • Victorian Theatre

English pathways

Year Abroad

You will have the option to take a year abroad  between your second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world.

Why study this course

On this programme you have an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with the materials of broad and diverse cultural, textual and performance disciplines, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression. The programme allows you to bring two disciplines into an exciting and rewarding dialogue, with a substantial amount of flexibility allowing you to tailor your course to suit your own interests. Below you will find more information about the Departments of: Drama and Theatre Arts; English Literature; and English Language and Applied Linguistics:

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 1st in the Guardian League table for 2015 and 1st for employability in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide.
  • You will be taught by leading researchers in the field and by expert practitioners.
  • 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 many students take up opportunities for part time work and internships with the Birmingham Rep and Hippodrome theatres.
  • 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, professional-standard theatre productions as one of their major practical options.
  • The Guild (our Students' Union) has seven different drama and theatre student societies including Article 19 theatre (who stage innovative productions of ?classical? drama), 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 (dedicated to alternative theatre and take performances to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Watch This (who produce original and experimental plays).

Drama open day talk

[Video above - Dr Adam Ledger delivers the Drama and Theatre Arts June 2013 undergraduate open day talk]

English Literature

  • The internationally renowned staff in the Department of English Literature research, publish and teach across the full chronological range of English Literature from Old English to contemporary British and American fiction and poetry, with a commitment to a rich diversity of theoretical, historical and intellectual approaches to their subjects. Research and teaching areas cover both the traditional literary canon and non-traditional areas of literary study such as postcolonial literature, early modern women?s writing, and the interrelation of literary and digital culture.
  • English Literature students can take a year-long Shakespeare course, drawing on the unique resources of our internationally-renowned Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • BEDSOC (Birmingham English Department Society) is very active in organising social events, for example trips to the theatre and theme nights out such as Hawaii night. We also have a thriving Creative Writing Society, Writers? Bloc, which is open to all students.
  • Students at Birmingham will also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from award-winning writers and industry professionals. Speakers in recent years have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and theatre director Greg Doran.
  • We have signed an exciting new collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a pioneering project that will bring benefits to our students.

English Literature open day talk

[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham]

English Language and Applied Linguistics

  • The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. You will be taught by the experts in the field, with a wide range of interests and specialities.
  • Birmingham is internationally famous for its work in corpus linguistics, stylistics, the language of social media, figurative language, and language learning and teaching. You can focus on traditional aspects of the subject, such as grammar, pragmatics, or historical linguistics, but you can also explore newer areas such as Englishes used worldwide, or English used in Internet communication.
  • Your personal tutor will guide you through the programme, helping you to select options that will suit your chosen career path. We have 4 informal routes through the degree programme which will help you into a wide range of different careers from advertising through to management through to speech therapy.
  • You will part of a vibrant staff and student community in the Department, with guest lectures from renowned linguists and regular social events such as end of term parties and summer balls. You will also benefit from the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies? visiting writer talks; recent guests have included the short story writer and novelist Bernard MacLaverty and playwright Simon Stephens.

English Language open day talk

[Video above - Professor 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

[Video above - Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the University]


Please note that this information is intended as an indicative guide to the programme and modules on offer may vary slightly from year to year.

First year

Second year

Final year

Fees and funding

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

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: See 'Additional information' below.

For the English Literature pathway, A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade A is required.

For the English Language pathway either English Language, English Literature and Literature or English Literature is desirable but not essential; if taken it will be required at grade A. We also consider other candidates who demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the study of language. In this case, an A level in a modern language would be an advantage.

A level Drama or Theatre Studies is desirable but not essential. If taken, it will be requested at grade B.

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

Please note: When making your selection on UCAS please specify ‘Literature pathway’ or ‘Language pathway’ in the ‘Further details’ box.

Apply through UCAS at

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

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

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

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

The principal means of assessment for English are coursework essays and written exams.



[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.


English Literature

[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore discusses careers and employability during the English Literature open day presentation]

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • 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 will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include:
    • Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
    • Birmingham REP
    • Birmingham Royal Ballet
    • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    • Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust
    • Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - 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 our 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.
  • Personal Skills Award - 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.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.