Join one of our Postgraduate online events

Book now

Much Ado About Nothing: In Performance

Course Type
Image for Much Ado About Nothing: In Performance

Much Ado About Nothing: In Performance 

This free online course, delivered in a unique collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, originally ran in March 2015. This innovative four-week course is ideal for 16-19 year olds in education and explores how the play would have been staged in Shakespeare’s time, how it has been interpreted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and how the 2014 RSC production of Much Ado About Nothing (Love’s Labour’s Won) brings the play to life for a modern audience.

The MOOC features an exclusive range of video and audio content and is perfect for studying in the classroom, at home or as part of a group. 

What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course - these are free, open, online courses designed to offer a taste of Higher Education to learners from across the UK and the world. The University of Birmingham is delivering new MOOCs in partnership with FutureLearn, the UK’s first MOOCs provider established by the Open University.

Delivered by world-class academics from the University of Birmingham, the courses enable learners worldwide to sample high-quality academic content via an interactive web-based platform from a leading global University, increasing access to higher education for a whole new cohort of learners.

We are excited to be working in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on this MOOC. 

Senior academic staff from the University of Birmingham are involved in the MOOC and the content is quality-assured in line with our other programmes. The courses do not offer credits towards admission to the University of Birmingham. 

Course knowledge requirements

There are no specific education requirements for this course. It is aimed at those with an interest in Shakespeare, and those who share a thirst for knowledge and the fascination of the performance of Shakespeare plays. It will also give you a taste of what it is like to study at Birmingham.

Course duration and week by week content

This is a four week course. The area of focus for the weeks will be:

  • In Week One: Dr Nick Walton from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will discuss original performance conditions, looking at how Much Ado about Nothing would have been staged in Shakespeare’s time, how his role as an actor shaped Shakespeare’s writing and how he reflects the age in which he lived.
  • In Week Two: Dr Abigail Rokison from the Shakespeare Institute will look at the different ways in which the play has been interpreted on the RSC’s stages throughout the 20thand 21stcenturies, focussing on how the darker side of Much Ado about Nothing has been explored.
  • In Week Three: Christopher Luscombe, Director of the 2014 production of Love’s Labour’s Won, will explore the role of the director, considering his early choices and how these move into the rehearsal room.
  • In Week Four: Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett, who play Beatrice and Benedick in the 2014 production, will discuss their process as actors and how they use the text to create performances with depth, coherence and energy.  

Lead academicDr Abigail Rokison

Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall joined the Shakespeare Institute in 2013, having been lecturing at Cambridge University for 7 years. She began her career as a professional actor, training at LAMDA and working quite extensively in theatre. Since deciding to move into academia her main research interests have been in the field of Shakespeare in performance, in particular verse speaking, adaptation and theatre history.  She has written two monographs -Shakespearean Verse Speaking (CUP) (winner of the Shakespeare's Globe first book award) and Shakespeare for Young People (Bloomsbury Arden). She is now writing two books for Bloomsbury Arden - 21st Century Stage Adaptations of Shakespeare and Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner.

Lead Educator

Jacqui O’Hanlon is the Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Lead Educator on Much Ado about Nothing: in performance.


  • Dr Nick Walton
    Nick is the Shakespeare Courses Development Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Educator for the first week of Much Ado About Nothing: in performance.
  • Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall
    Abigail is a Lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham and Educator for the second week of Much Ado About Nothing: in performance.
  • Christopher Luscombe
    Christopher is the Director of the RSC’s 2014 production of Love’s Labour’s Won (or Much Ado about Nothing) and Educator for the third week of Much Ado about Nothing: in performance.
  • Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett
    Michelle and Edward are members of the Love’s Labour’s Won (or Much Ado about Nothing) acting company and Educators for the fourth week of Much Ado about Nothing: in performance.

How to apply

The next start date for this free online course is currently to be confirmed. You can register your interest in participating at the FutureLearn website.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

Visit our FAQs

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities