MA Shakespeare and Creativity

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21:
UK/ EU: £9,250 full-time
International: £19,170 full-time
More detail.

This unique programme has been designed to create forward-thinking conversations about what Shakespeare is and what Shakespeare can be in today’s world.

The only course of its kind in the world, students study everything from the history of Shakespeare in society, literary criticism and theatre practices; before putting their knowledge in to practice through a newly devised piece of theatre in response to Shakespeare’s work.

This creative and ambitious programme is ideal for aspiring academics, actors, writers, directors, arts administrators, as well as anyone with a lively interest in Shakespeare. 

Students have the opportunity to study the life and work of Shakespeare and combine it with the thrill of producing new creative work. It brings together academic, theatrical and civic interests in Shakespeare to encourage and challenge students to think about new approaches to Shakespeare in the modern world.

Taught by world renowned Shakespearean experts you will explore the language and drama of Shakespeare, different approaches to performing Shakespeare and the history of Shakespeare in Society.

Delivered by and taught at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, the programme makes the most of the unrivalled resources of Shakespeare’s Stratford and involves expert tuition from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Library of Birmingham.

The programme is particularly enhanced by the Institute's collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at The Other Place Theatre, offering unique and extensive opportunities to work on its premises with RSC artists – predominantly within the Shakespeare and Society and The Shakespeare Ensemble modules.

Please note: There are specific application deadlines for this programme. Please see 'How to apply' in course details for more information.

RSC and University of Birmingham logos

[Lead image: Hamlet, 2016, Royal Shakespeare Company. Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC.Sam Allard]

Explore the Shakespeare Institute

Virtual Open Day: Postgraduate opportunities with The Shakespeare Institute - 29 October 2019, 15:00-16:00

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Join us online to watch a range of staff and student videos, and take part in our online chat where Dr Erin Sullivan will be answering your questions about postgraduate study.

Find out more and register

Student life at the Shakespeare Institute is wonderful as the staff are all extremely talented, knowledgeable and supportive. Being in the centre of Stratford-Upon-Avon really enhances the student experience as we can take advantage of the amazing links the University has with the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres.

Ella

Why Study this Course?

  • Location – studying at The Shakespeare Institute in the heart of Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon offers you an academic experience unequalled by any other university. You will study within walking distance of Shakespeare's birthplace, school and grave, and the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Shakespeare Institute and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) collaboration – you will benefit from our exciting collaboration with the RSC at The Other Place which has seen the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre. You will be have the opportunity to work in creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as benefitting from the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners. To find out more, you can listen to some of our students talking about their experiences of the collaboration. 
  • Access to fantastic resources – you will be surrounded by a number of resources. The Shakespeare Institute’s own library is a renowned collection of international importance and you will also have access to the outstanding picture collections, records and library holdings of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
  • Be a part of a vibrant and active community – the Institute provides an intense learning experience in the study of Shakespeare from a range of perspectives, with the support and encouragement of the Institute’s staff, who are all respected in their own field. Find out more about life at The Shakespeare Institute.
  • Attend postgraduate conferences – the Institute plays host to a number of national and international conferences. The highlight of the academic year is the annual Britgrad conference organised by students for students. You will be able to join postgraduate students from all over the world to give and hear short papers on all aspects of Shakespeare and early-modern drama. Britgrad provides a unique opportunity for graduate students to share their work with their peers and to hear what other graduates in similar and related fields are working on.

Modules

You will produce traditional academic essays as well as creative work.  You will have the opportunity to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at The Other Place Theatre to work as part of an ensemble of creative artists – actors, directors, writers, designers and technicians – to produce a new piece of creative work in response to Shakespeare’s work.

You will also attend weekly Thursday Seminars at The Shakespeare Institute (term-time only), which feature papers presented by a range of established visiting scholars as well as Institute and University of Birmingham staff.

Core modules

You will study four core modules:

Shakespearience

This module considers the ways in which Shakespearean language and drama bears on experience, with a view to making the experience of Shakespeare more available to contemporary Shakespeare scholarship and creative practice. It is, above all, a shared experiment in experientially alert and susceptible close reading. “Shakespearience” will be about reading as process rather than product, and as such, at least potentially, experientially exciting and adventurous. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Practice as Research, Research in Practice

This module is designed to support MA students in developing their dissertation research topic, and to equip them with the skills and experience that they need to present and communicate their research to an academic audience. The module will develop students’ understanding of Practice as Research – both in terms of rigour and ethics.  It will help them to gain confidence in speaking to an audience and responding to questions. Students will be supported through archive tasks, designed to help them with undertaking research into past theatre productions.  This module is co-taught with the RSC.
Assessment: Presentation and 1,000 word reflective essay

The Shakespeare Ensemble

In this module you will work as part of an ensemble of creative artists – actors, directors, writers, designers and technicians – exploring and testing the theory and practice of performing Shakespeare today. You will participate in workshops with key RSC practitioners and produce an assessed performance of a re-imagined Shakespearean text in The Other Place theatre. The module seeks to equip you with a range of skills pertaining to creating a new piece of work - creative dramatic writing, devising as an ensemble, Shakespeare and adaption as well as including sessions with the RSC on new writing, the ensemble, design and lighting.
Assessment: Performance and written work

  • View 'Delectable Sin' - a song composed by Shakespeare and Creativity students, inspired by their response to Othello as part of this module

Shakespeare in Society

Featuring tuition from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Library of Birmingham (which has an important Shakespeare collection), this module explores and tests the scope for bringing Shakespeare into the world beyond the academy and the theatre. You will undertake focused study of Shakespearean civic creativity from Garrick's 1769 Jubilee onwards before producing your own piece of civic creativity inspired by Shakespeare at the RSC. 
Assessment: Performance and written work

  • View Shakespeare Unbard – a film of work developed for performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company produced by Shakespeare and Creativity students as part of this module.

Optional modules

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which typically includes:

Shakespeare and Theatre Practice

This module will provide you with experiential knowledge that will inform the way that you interrogate and interpret performance evidence in a variety of media. Through a series of workshops and performance assignments, you will explore three different systematic approaches to performing the language of Shakespeare: the first approach is rooted in the verse and text work of John Barton, Peter Hall, Cicely Berry and Patsy Rodenburg; the second approach explores the legacy of Stanislavski in Shakespearean performance; the third approach brings the work of key movement practitioners to a creative examination of Shakespeare’s text.
Assessment: Two performance assignments and a 2,000-word research paper, or a 4,000-word research paper

Early Modern Drama: Middleton and Jonson

This module will introduce and contextualise two of the most significant dramatists working in the same period as Shakespeare. Seminars will focus on informal introductory lectures, student presentations, and group discussion. Student presentations will place one of the plays in a broader dramatic and/or cultural context, and/or engage in close analysis of key passages. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

History of Shakespeare in Performance

This module will consider trends of acting and directing Shakespeare from the Restoration to the present day, and will exploit the Stratford archives to undertake studies of individual actors and directors from the eighteenth century onwards. Subjects of study might include Colley Cibber, David Garrick, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook, John Barton and Sam Mendes. There will be opportunities to analyse and interpret primary evidence and to consider the cultural context(s) of performance. Plays studied include some or all of Richard IIIHamletMacbethAntony and Cleopatra, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Shakespeare’s Bodies of Knowledge

Shakespeare’s plays often present the body as the site of competing structures of thought, knowledge and belief. This module will investigate the ways in which such ‘bodies of knowledge’ are dramatized corporeally through a range of disciplines, including anatomy and dissection; theories of gender; teratology (the study of ‘monstrosity’); natural history; witchcraft and demonology; heraldry and commemoration; post-humanism and early robotics; colonial discourse; and others.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Shakespeare and Early Modern Playhouse Culture

Early modern dramatists typically wrote with particular companies, performance spaces and audiences in mind. This module therefore approaches Shakespeare through the culture of the early modern playhouse. Our central aims will be to ask how the social, cultural, spatial, professional and technological make-up of venues such as the Globe and Blackfriars shaped early modern drama by Shakespeare and others, and to consider the significance of the playhouse to wider early modern culture and society. Using a range of methods drawn from literary criticism, cultural history, theatre history, sensory and affect studies, textual studies and material theatre, we will examine plays in relation to the conditions of playing at outdoor amphitheatres and indoor candlelit venues, always keeping in mind the social dimensions of play-making, involving countless interactions amongst playgoers, actors, musicians and other company members. We will give particular consideration to playhouse sensations, stage technologies, effects and spectacle, audience expectations, actorly skill, company practices, music, documents of performance, and repertory, among other topics. A range of plays by Shakespeare will be studied in direct conjunction with other early modern drama both canonical and less familiar.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Shakespeare’s Craftsmanship

This module is intended to convey, from a variety of standpoints, a sense of how Shakespeare worked. We will explore a selection of plays from across his career in order to highlight the fluidity of his creativity in terms of such elements as language, structure, mood, adaptation of source material, and how they are made to function in innovative ways alongside the more pragmatic considerations of live performance in the early modern theatre. Alongside these historical, textual, and dramaturgical issues we will also consider how such questions of craft may influence performance practice today.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Shakespeare’s Legacy

This module considers the adaptation and appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays, persona, and possessions from 1660 to the present day, paying particular attention to how changes and developments in theatre practice, aesthetic tastes, social concerns, political events, the heritage industry, and commercial markets have shaped the history of Shakespeare’s ‘afterlife’. The module looks at trends broadly chronologically, focusing on particular examples as it traces how the plays (and other Shakespeariana) were received and reinterpreted in light of different artistic, intellectual, and commercial movements from the late seventeenth to early twenty-first centuries. The distinction between ‘adaptations’, ‘appropriations’, ‘translations’, and ‘versions’ will be questioned, and you will be invited to consider the extent to which the different adaptations you read or see rely upon the original Shakespearian text for context and meaning.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay, or 3,000-word creative writing project with 1,000-word reflective commentary

Shakespeare’s Text

The module will develop a critical awareness of the textual foundations of Shakespeare's plays. Topics covered include: the relationship between a modern edition of a play and the earliest printed texts, the nature of the printing process that first made the plays available to readers of books, the characteristics of Shakespeare's dramatic composition, the treatment of the text in the theatre (including censorship, revision and adaptation), and Shakespeare as a collaborator. Plays studied include some or all of HamletTroilus and CressidaSir Thomas MoreRomeo and JulietRichard IIKing LearMeasure for MeasureThe Merry Wives of Windsor, and Timon of Athens
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21:

  • UK/EU: £9,250 full-time
  • International: £19,170 full-time

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

 

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

How To Apply

Please note that places on this programme are limited due to the practical nature of the programme. Due to the competitive nature of the programme, applications are being considered in rounds:

Deadlines for 2019 entry

  • Round 1 application deadline: Friday 17 January 2020
  • Round 2 application deadline: Friday 9 April 2020
  • Round 3 application deadline: Monday 1 July 2020

We will continue to accept applications from UK/EU students after Wednesday 1 July and these will be considered if there are any spaces left on the programme following the completion of round 3..

Please note: Most funding deadlines fall in spring, and funding applications usually need to be considered alongside an application to study. Applicants seeking funding are therefore encouraged to apply in round 1.

Applications will be considered as a gathered field, so round 1 applicants can expect a decision as to whether they have been offered a place to study by the end of February, round 2 applicants can expect a decision by the end of May and round 3 applicants can expect a decision by mid-August.

As we can only make offers to a limited number of applicants, those who receive an offer of a place to study will have approximately one month to accept their offer, after which time the offer will be withdrawn so that the place can be offered to another applicant.

Advice on your application

Please read our Entry Requirements carefully.

Please ensure that your application has been completed fully by the deadline as we cannot consider your application without all of the necessary documentation (writing sample, references, personal statement and results, if available). If you have outstanding documentation relating to pending language test results and degree results, please make this clear on your application, and your application will be considered.

Early applications are encouraged as the number of places available will reduce in each round. It is not necessary to wait until you have finished your current programme of study to make an application as we are able to make offers which are conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

We ask that you supply evidence of either:

  • A bachelors degree (2:1) in a relevant field

OR

  • Relevant professional experience.  This should be demonstrated in a portfolio which catalogues and contextualises your work in a relevant field (e.g. catalogue of a recent art installation, actor’s CV, transcript giving indication of professional training, web-based archive of recent work, folio of published poems, etc.)

In your application, you should use your personal statement to indicate your creative potential and reflect on your existing creative work. This can be up to 5,000 characters in length. In particular, your statement should address the following research questions:

  • What were/are the objectives of the piece, and why? What obstacles did you/might you encounter? How might these have been/be avoided?
  • To what tradition does this piece belong? To what critical conversations or bodies of practice does it contribute? What does it contribute to them?
  • What are its implications for future work? What does/might your work initiate in the field of Shakespeare studies more generally?

All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. This must be provided when you make your application or within no more than two weeks of submitting your application to us. If this is not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined. This written work should be about Shakespeare, his contemporaries or work adapted from or based on Shakespeare, and should be around 2,000 words. If you do not have an existing piece of writing to submit, you may take a short passage of up to 60 lines from any Shakespeare play and write an essay of around 2,000 words which discusses the performance possibilities of this extract and how it contributes to the play as a whole.

Your application must also be supported by two letters of recommendation, either from academics or equivalent authorities from creative industries as appropriate.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

International Requirements


This programme will make use of the unrivalled resources of Shakespeare’s Stratford, involving expert sessions from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Library of Birmingham.  

It particularly benefits from the Institute's collaboration collaboration with the RSC at The Other Place, offering unique and extensive opportunities to work with the Company and at The Other Place. Students will also have access to the Shakespeare Institute Library, the Library of the Shakespeare Centre that curates the archives of the RSC, and the Shakespeare Collection held at the Library of Birmingham.

The programmes will also draw upon the expertise of key members of the Shakespeare Institute team: co-convenors Professor Ewan Fernie and Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall; and Director of the Shakespeare Institute, Professor Michael Dobson.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each term, followed by your dissertation. Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation, as well as time on-site at The Shakespeare Institute.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: The Shakespeare Institute

As a postgraduates at the Shakespeare Institute, you will develop a broad range of creative, research and theatre skills, as well as in-depth subject knowledge. Over the past 5 years, 88% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017).

In recent years, our postgraduates have successfully entered a variety of sectors from teaching in secondary and higher education to performing arts, publishing, and museum, library and archive work. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include National Trust, Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare's Globe, University of Birmingham and University of Oxford.