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BA Drama

Why we're great

  • Our lecturers are all active practitioners: our teaching and research is enhanced and informed by our professional work around the world
  • As practitioners and industry insiders, we are committed to identifying employment opportunities for our students, and supporting the theatre-makers of the future
  • Our students are empowered to be the creative artists of the future: our department ranks in the UK top 10 for student satisfaction

Course options2017-18

BA Drama Full-time

UCAS code: W401
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: W402
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Theatre is a radical and influential art form. Its roots lie deep in the ancient world but its relevance to contemporary life is urgent and ongoing. Theatre enables different cultures and societies to confront the most important issues of our time; it provides a crucial space to laugh, to dream, and dare to project different worlds.

Studying theatre and drama at Essex enables you to examine some of the most influential play-texts ever written, and to be ready to take part in shaping the essential performances of tomorrow. This degree is a chance to unlock and explore your creativity. You will be performing and producing work in the professional context of our state-of-the-art Lakeside Theatre, and will be developing a wide range of creative, critical and practical skills that will open the door to a future in the theatre, cultural industries or a wide range of other graduate careers.

At Essex, we offer a rich combination of practical workshops, critical seminars and lectures, and employability opportunities delivered by an experienced team of playwrights, directors, and actors, as well as leading academic theatre specialists.

Areas of exploration in our modules include, but are not limited to:

  • Dramatic literature from Ancient Greek tragedy and Shakespeare, to modern plays from around the world
  • Contemporary playwriting and devising techniques
  • Staging political ideas, human rights and social justice issues
  • Gender, identity, orientation and sexual politics on stage
  • Creating Applied Theatre in educational and community contexts
  • Emergent trends in interactive performance-making and audience participation

Through classroom teaching, practical experiment and professional experience, we help you craft the skillset that will be essential in your creative development. This approach reflects our core belief that engaging with both practice and theory produces a deeper understanding of how theatre works.

Our commitment to the student experience is why we are ranked top 10 in the UK (Guardian University Guide, 2016) and in the top 20% of UK universities for student satisfaction (NSS 2016). Other courses within the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, including Literature, Creative Writing, Filmmaking and Journalism, are available as options to all our students.

“Starting at Essex was a wonderful experience. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, and the Theatre Arts Society allowed me to socialise with a lot of like-minded students. I am now working for a number of different organisations as a theatre facilitator, including Almeida Projects, Mercury Theatre and Stagecoach. I am so proud that I am able to use different elements of my degree everyday in my work.”

Jordana Golbourn, BA Drama, 2011

Study abroad

See the world from a new place, think about the world differently. For students wishing to extend their education further, we support you by offering the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year studying abroad or being employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Our students have studied at universities in the United States, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan. A year abroad provides you with the opportunity to take a more global view of theatre, make contacts with theatre practitioners from other parts of the world and explore new ideas and develop a different perspective on the world.

Placement year

Maximise the impact of your degree, build your CV and gain invaluable real-world experience. When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year.

Undertaking a placement can allow you to gain relevant work experience within an external organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the cultural industries.

You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by the Department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

Become part of the theatre industry by studying with people in the theatre industry. All staff in the Centre for Theatre Studies are professional theatre-makers as well as leading academics in our individual fields. We share a passion for creative and engaging teaching, bringing you ideas and practices informed by our global research interests.

Our high ranking in the Guardian University Guide is made possible because we are a community of award-winning playwrights, directors, performers and practitioners, as well as pre-eminent critics and theoreticians. Alongside specialist guest tutors in acting, directing and stage-management, our core teaching staff includes:

  • Professor Jonathan Lichtenstein is a playwright who has written for Radio 4 and the National Theatre. His awards include a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival and his plays have been performed internationally. He is a recognised expert in teaching playwriting and dramatic form.
  • Dr Elizabeth Kuti is also a playwright, and is currently Writer-in-Residence for Hampton Court. She has won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Stewart Parker Radio Award; and has been commissioned by the National Theatre; the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; and writes regularly for BBC radio. She also researches in the field of eighteenth-century theatre.
  • Liam Jarvis is Co-Director of Analogue and a playwright and theatre practitioner. He also writes and publishes widely on contemporary theatre theory and practice, with a specialism in immersive, interactive and digital theatre.
  • Annecy Lax is a specialist in Applied Theatre and human rights in performance, with over a decade of experience in testimonial and verbatim theatre. She has worked in numerous community and educational settings as a facilitator and playwright, and has had work produced by the National Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Bush Theatre.
  • Mary Mazzilli is a renowned specialist in World Theatre and is also a practicing playwright and Creative Director of Lumenis Theatre company. As well as touring her work internationally, Mary has published on Chinese Theatre, dramaturgy, translation and digital theatre.

We also regularly invite visiting professionals to take master classes with our students, allowing you to enter into dialogue with the leading figures in theatre. Past visitors include: Gecko Theatre, Frantic Assembly, Uninvited Guests, Clod Ensemble, Freedom Theatre, Tim Crouch, Max Stafford-Clark, Anna Birch, David Eldridge, Jessica Swale, Melanie Wilson, Robert Holman, Clare Bayley, Lisa Goldman, David Thacker, Annie Castledine, Bobby Baker, Mike Attenborough.

Specialist facilities

  • The Lakeside Theatre is a purpose-built 200-seat venue in the heart of the University campus. We stage productions by leading touring companies and new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students.
  • Additionally, the Lakeside Studio is an intimate fully equipped black box theatre. Each year, we invite proposals from current and former Essex students to make work for this space as part of our Homegrown Shows programme.
  • The Lakeside Theatre also makes a connection to the cultural hubs of our country as a host of the prestigious National Theatre Live and Royal Shakespeare Company Live screenings.
  • We programme practical workshops by world-leading invited artists to help you develop new performance skills.
  • Our weekly research seminars provide further opportunities for students to hear writers and practitioners discuss their craft.
  • The Research Laboratory creates unique opportunities for our students to contribute to the testing of new ideas over the course of a full rehearsal process. Students collaborate with professional writers, actors, directors, musicians, and choreographers. As part of a creative team, new research questions are explored in practice, with opportunities to share work-in-progress with audiences.
  • As well as our high-spec theatre spaces, our campus is home to a wealth of non-theatre venues, including The Hex and ArtExchange, that we use to innovate new site-based work.
  • Our students have access to the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite.
  • There are also opportunities to write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show.
  • Students can view classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre.

Your future

Be an actor, a writer, a director, a stage-manager, a producer – or something even more exciting! A drama degree opens many doors. Creativity, communication and versatility are highly valued skills in our rapidly changing world.

Our students have gone on to become actors, directors and playwrights, as well as producers, live artists, dramaturgs, stage-managers, and arts managers. Essex students have built rewarding careers as youth workers, community practitioners, drama therapists, and as teachers and academics.

The skillsets developed at Essex have also seen our students find success in a range of related creative industries including journalism, television production, broadcasting, radio presenting, gaming, magazine editing, copywriting, press relations and marketing, as well as in business, commerce and law.

Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of creative roles including:

  • Writer in Residence for the National Theatre
  • Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre, London
  • Artistic Director of a successful touring company
  • Director for the Almedia Theatre, London
  • Manager at a renowned regional theatre
  • Live-Artist for Art Angel
  • BBC Journalist
  • Youth Theatre Leader & Workshop Facilitator
  • Outreach and Education Officer
  • Front of House Theatre Manager
  • Stage-manager
  • Secondary School Teacher

We work closely with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

This module looks at how theatrical ideas developed and made into reality. The module guides you carefully through the technical expertise required, and allows you to explore lighting, sound and stage management in professionally-led workshops. The module then invites you to engage critically with theatre productions, reviewing live performance to analyse the staging decisions taken by the creative team. The culmination of the module is a chance for you to enact this learning in producing your own textual performances.

This module introduces you to the rehearsal processes involved in both bringing a dramatic text to life (Text into Action) and drawing on practitioner’s methodologies to devise different kinds of performance forms, from physical theatre to interactive performance (Action into Text). The module will form the foundations for understanding how plays work three-dimensionally (the journey from page to stage) and expand the boundaries of what resources theatre-makers might draw upon as a trigger to innovate inspiring live performance events.

This is the foundational module for your BA Drama Degree. We enrich your existing knowledge of major theatre practitioners – Aristotle, Brecht, Artaud and Stanislavski – and complement these studies by introducing new theatre theorists, movements and styles. Examine plays from Ancient Greece to today, discussing issues like genre, representation, reception, modernism and postmodernism. This module blends together practical and theoretical classes to create the building blocks for an informed study of theatre practice.

This module is an introduction to some of the most influential European writers from the Enlightenment period up to the present day. You study significant works of literature that sparked particular movements or represent crucial literary innovation. The works selected are novels, novellas, short stories and plays, and we examine these texts within their historical and political contexts. This module will help you to build understanding of the development of genres, forms, styles, content and ideas.

Year 2

What is it about theatre and live performance that creates an arena for anarchy, disorder and rebellion? Taking a wide span of theatre history, and studying diverse texts, this module looks at the phenomenon of inciting mischief and disruption, and explores drama's innate power to destabilize. Using Euripides' The Bacchae as a starting point and moving through to the current day, the module deliberately juxtaposes texts from varied sources and various cultures in order to create a rich tapestry of comparative investigation. Teaching is through lectures, seminars, practical performance.

This hugely popular module is a chance to study four key Shakespeare texts in depth. This option will allow you to master some of Shakespeare’s most rich and complex plays through practical work and seminars. Understand these seminal works and build your confidence by coming to grips with the language, dramatic conventions and characteristics of plays which are at the heart of our theatre culture. By the end of the course you will feel at home with texts which beforehand may have seemed forbidding or difficult.

This new module allows you to explore a vital feature of contemporary trends in British and international interactive theatre and performance-making – namely, the shifting role of the audience. From the ethics of the face-to-face encounter to technologies that prompt interaction, this module cultivates a theoretical awareness of the politics of audience participation, agency and labour. You will explore key debates that have emerged in theatre, fine art and other related fields, develop your own artistic manifesto, and build confidence in shaping live experiences that are completed by the involvement of unrehearsed participants.

One of our highest rated modules examines how the theatre explores and exploits gender in performance. Can theatre make a significant contribution to our understanding of the shifting picture of sexual identity and ideology? This module takes a dynamic historical sweep to examine how the theatre has debated sexual politics. Here we apply gender theory and feminist criticism to examine a range of plays, theatre practitioners and performance artists. This is a module for anyone curious to understand the many ways perceptions of gender influence identity, image, expression and power.

Final year

Taught by award-winning professional playwrights, this module takes you through the A-Z of writing full-length plays. In this laboratory environment we study the tools and techniques you need to write successfully for the theatre. The module examines the different approaches available to the playwright, and challenges ideas about form, structure and use of language. Studying a range of playscripts in depth, you will develop your skills through practical exercises and assignments. This module gives you the opportunity to enhance your own creative process and progress your professional career.

Taking this module you will be exposed to a range of eclectic and electrifying performance challenges. You will be introduced to a set of performance theories and techniques to help you apply the right creative process to the right text. This module examines key theoretical writings about acting and performance in light of playtexts that demand very different approaches to their production and realisation. The module is focused on practical work, backed up by your analysis of the creative and practical decisions that determine a successful performance.

Nominated for module of the year, we examine here how theatre practitioners have approached the urgent political crises of the last century. We ask how theatre and human rights interact, and can they intervene in changing hearts and minds. You study a range of plays alongside the ideas of influential practitioners, plus political films and works of art. This module gives you the chance to make your original theatre pieces in response to social issues and world events.

Pursue your own interests and passions by designing and carrying out your own theatre research project. Whether it’s a new approach to directing a classic play, writing a script, running workshops, or exploring an area like puppetry or theatre in education, the Independent Practical Project gives you the chance to implement your own programme of creative research, under specialist supervision from an academic staff member.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching will take the form of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and skills-based training sessions
  • We offer a unique combination of theoretical and creative approaches
  • Class sizes are up to 20 students and taught in specially designated teaching rooms
  • A typical timetable is a mixture of one hour lectures and three-hour seminars and/or practical workshops

Assessment

  • The assessment for each module is designed to carefully complement the content and teaching on that module
  • Assessment might be academic essays, practical assessments, review and reflective writing, research presentations and examinations
  • A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject

IB: 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Interview and tests

If you’re resident in the UK and apply before the UCAS deadline in January, you might be shortlisted for a workshop based on your application. During this workshop you’ll work in groups, responding to a stimulus to create a piece of theatre. It’s an ideal opportunity to experience how our courses are taught and also great fun. Offers for this course will only be made after attendance at a workshop. This will form part of your visit day where you’ll be able to explore the campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex.

If you live outside the UK, we won’t invite you to a workshop, but you can still arrange a trip to see us. Feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk and we’ll help you arrange a suitable time for you to come and visit.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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