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BA Drama and Literature

Why we're great

  • Our students are extremely happy - we are top 10 in the UK for student satisfaction.
  • Many of our lecturers come from the theatre profession and continue to have active careers.
  • We have a thriving Theatre Arts Society and student company - you can put theory into practice.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: QW24
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: WQ42
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

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About the course

Study a wide range of dramatic texts, from Ancient Greek times to the present day, and develop an understanding of the principal developments in European Theatre.

You can benefit from our Lakeside Theatre, which has been established as a major venue for excellent drama, known for a commitment to new writing for the stage. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays to our Lakeside Theatre but there has been a wealth of new work produced by our own staff and students. An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it gives you to write or direct new plays, as well as re-define classics and re-discover neglected masterpieces.

Topics covered in our modules include:

  • Transforming dramatic texts into dramatic performance
  • Comedy, tragedy and the development of genre, both in theory and practice
  • Gender and sexual politics on stage
  • Writing for theatre
  • Translating novels for the screen
  • Writing of the US South

We are ranked Top 10 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015).

Study abroad

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.

Placement year

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

Our academic literature staff specialise in a range of areas including modernism, comparative and world literature, Shakespeare, the Renaissance, travel writing, nature writing, translated literature, cultural geography, Irish and Scottish writing, US and Caribbean literature, and the history of reading.

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.

Specialist facilities

  • 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
  • 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
  • Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group

Your future

A degree in drama enables you to develop the graduate capabilities that employers value. You learn how to communicate with confidence, both orally and in writing. Our strong practical component equips you with the subject-related skills for degree-level employment.

Our graduates go on to become highly-regarded professionals in the cultural industries. Many now teach, while other progress to further research in drama and related subjects. Several graduates have become stage managers at venues across the UK, while others find work in varied areas including journalism, press relations, television production, magazine editing, copywriting, industry, commerce and law.

Recent graduates have been employed as:

  • A freelance theatre practitioner
  • A writer
  • A digital journalist and sub-editor
  • A business development officer
  • A journalist

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about 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 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.

Which writers re-worked Homer’s Odyssey? Or borrowed ideas from Dante’s Inferno? Examine how key literary texts and genres have been used by successive generations of writers up until the present day. Shift from classical text to a more modern example, studying the long cultural traditions that exist.

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 aims to support you in developing your employability skills in order to help you secure your chosen career in an increasingly competitive 21st century graduate labour market. You’ll reflect on and refine your own thinking about employability, and will apply your degree subject knowledge. You’ll also gain an understanding of the structure of the graduate labour market, in order to identify relevant opportunities.

What is contemporary writing? And how is it characterised? Don’t just study known “traditional” genres of literature, what about the emerging new genres of writing that are challenging readers? Analyse contemporary English writing, published within the last ten years, looking at themes, forms, issues and language.

Year 2

What are the links and connections between texts? Do these exist even if the plays seem diverse? Explore a range of texts from the medieval period to the 1980s, analysing genre, dramatic form, language, narrative and dramatic debate. Through practical sessions, consider approaches like staging, verse-speaking, montage and character development.

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.

How can texts be read and interpreted using the thinking of Marx? What about Freud or de Saussure? Or Derrida and Said? Study literature, theatre, and film using these key thinkers. Analyse their approaches both historically and institutionally, and understand the importance of theoretical and methodological material to your studies.

Get yourself out there. Digital and social media provide invaluable platforms for showcasing your creative work, creating new and innovative content, and connecting with future employers, agents, and collaborators. In this module, you investigate the potential of both existing and emerging social and multi-media channels, getting hands-on in practical sessions, and gaining key knowledge of the legal aspects of web-based media.

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.

Great literature – the stuff that dreams are made of? This workshop-based module investigates experimental film, art, literature, and poetry. Drawing inspiration from your own dreams, as well as dream theories and literary dream works, you are encouraged to experiment with character and voice, developing your own distinct identity as a writer.

How powerful is Hollywood? How do directors construct an image of the USA? Examine how directors have created America in the popular imagination. Study Hollywood auteurs (such as Chaplin, Hawks, Hitchcock, Welles and Ford) alongside others (such as Scorsese, Allen and Lee) while covering the breadth of US film history.

What fascinates you? Pursue a topic that you are enthusiastic about and have chosen, with support and guidance from our expert academic staff. Gain invaluable training for future graduate work, as you learn how to sustain a written argument over 10,000 words.

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 will mainly take the form of lectures and classes of about 20 students
  • Practical drama workshops
  • Emphasis on practical exercises and creative approaches
  • A typical timetable involves a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your modules every week


  • Your final mark for each module is determined half by coursework and half by examination
  • A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark

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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 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 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.


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.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: 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 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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