Drama is a rich and diverse art form, with an ancient history that spans human cultures across the globe. The theatre is a medium through which societies reflect on the most important issues of the day, laugh, dream and dare to imagine things differently; it is the mirror in which individuals and communities scrutinise themselves. Studying drama allows you to explore some of the most important and influential texts ever written; and it exposes you to new experiences, new ideas and to many worlds.
We believe that the joint engagement of practice and theory produces a deep understanding of how drama works. As a result, our teaching combines practical workshops with critical seminars and lectures, and is delivered by an experienced team of playwrights, directors, and actors, as well as leading academic theatre specialists.
You study a wide spectrum of dramatic literature from Ancient Greek tragedy and Shakespeare, to modern plays from across Europe and the world; and you also study theatre-making practice. You consider different ways in which theatre is made, and relate academic study to the practice of making and seeing theatre. We explore theatre buildings and history, as well as looking at drama in relation to political issues, and in applied contexts such as schools and communities.
- Transforming dramatic texts into dramatic performance
- Political ideas, human rights and social issues in recent theatre
- The theory and practice of acting and performance
- Comedy, tragedy and the development of genre, both in theory and practice
- Gender and sexual politics on stage
- Writing for theatre
At Essex you will make practical theatre, in groups and as an individual, so you develop not only as a reader and maker of dramatic works, but also as an audience member.
Our course offers a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum, focused on the study of drama, but also enabling you to take options from the other courses within our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies including literature, creative writing, filmmaking, and journalism.
We are ranked top 10 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015), and our students are some of the happiest in the country; we are top in the UK for student satisfaction (NSS 2014).
“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
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education by providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Our Department has an exchange scheme with universities in Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain and Italy through the ERASMUS programme. This provides our students with the opportunity to view the world, and theatre, from another perspective.
Studying abroad also allows you 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.
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
Our expert staff
The Centre for Theatre Studies at Essex is part of the multi-disciplinary Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, offering talented students the support and confidence to engage both critically and artistically in the study of Drama. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning playwrights, actors and directors, as well as leading literature specialists.
- 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.
- Elizabeth Kuti is also a playwright. 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 BBC radio. She also writes and researches in the field of eighteenth-century theatre.
- Liam Jarvis is Artistic Director of Analogue Theatre and a playwright and theatre practitioner. He also writes and publishes widely on contemporary theatre theory and practice.
- Annie Eddington and Barbara Peirson have professional specialisms in Theatre-in-Education, directing, theatre and human rights. Other staff members bring expertise in acting, producing and technical theatre.
We also regularly invite visiting professionals to take master classes with our students, allowing you to enter into dialogue with leading figures in theatre. Recent visitors include Max Stafford-Clark, David Eldridge, Paul Sirett, Jessica Swale, Robert Price, Lisa Goldman, David Thacker, Mike Attenborough, Annie Castledine, Bobby Baker, Robert Holman, Tony Casement, and Gari Jones.
- Our on-Campus, 200-seat Lakeside Theatre is a major venue for drama, staging productions by professional touring companies and new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
- Participate in regular workshops at the Lakeside Theatre which help you to improve your performance skills
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work as it develops
- Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
A drama degree opens many doors. Creativity, imagination and versatility are highly valued skills in our rapidly changing world.
Our students have gone on to become producers, playwrights, and actors, as well as teachers, academics, dramaturgs, youth workers, stage managers, administrators, live artists, and theatre-makers. They have also found success in a range of other industries including journalism, press relations, marketing, theatre and television production, broadcasting, magazine editing, copywriting, industry, commerce and law.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of desirable roles including:
- Freelance theatre facilitating
- Youth theatre practice at The Princes Theatre
- Front of house theatre manager
- Stage managers
We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.