Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Course Information

Learning Outcomes

1. To examine post-war dramatic writing in the UK and consider the social, political and philosophical ideas of leading playwrights.

2. To discuss a range of modern British plays in their historical contexts.

3. To consider the relationship between playwrights and the work of significant theatre companies and directors.

4. To study plays both as literature and as texts for performance.

5. To assist students to develop their analytical skills and the ability to develop coherent arguments in essays.


Teaching Methods

Teaching is seminar-based, with weekly 1.5 hour sessions.


Assessment is by three essays, each of c.2,500 words.

There is also a non-assessed essay in term 1 - this is compulsory, but formative, i.e. its mark does not count towards the final module mark. You do need to complete this essay to pass the module, however! This will be a drafting exercise: the non-assessed essay will form the basis of your first assessed essay.

In order to test relationships between text and performance on the contemporary stage, one essay should be on a play seen in production.


Essay writing

Click on the link below for information on essay-writing workshops and the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellows, who can give you one-to-one advice on your work, in particular in terms of writing style and argumentation:

These types of specialist writing tuition will make a huge difference to your competence at and enjoyment of the essay-writing process - I can't recommend them highly enough.



1. Students should consider buying the anthologies Methuen Drama Book of Plays from the Sixties and Modern Drama: Plays of the ‘80s and ‘90s (Methuen 2001). These contain a number of the plays we will study.

Copies of most plays on the module are also available through Drama Online via the library catalogue. Your tutor will advise you as to which other plays you should buy; please note that several plays are published both as individual texts and in collected editions (e.g. Pinter’s The Birthday Party is published separately and in Pinter: Plays Vol. One). Check the library catalogue and the bookshop.

2.In some cases (e.g. Oh What a Lovely War; Berkoff’s Metamorphosis) the principal text will be a video production.


Suggested Background Reading:

Dominic Dromgoole: The Full Room, Methuen 2000

David Edgar, ed. State of Play , Faber 1999

Christopher Innes: Modern British Drama 1890-1990, Cambridge 1992

Stephen Lacey: British Realist Theatre: The New Wave in Its Context 1956-1965, Routledge, 1995

Dan Rebellato: 1956 And All That - The Making of Modem British Drama, Routledge 1999

Dominic Shellard: British Theatre since the War, Yale 2000

Aleks Sierz: In Yer Face Theatre, Faber 2001

Taylor, John Russell: Anger and After, Penguin1964

Micheline Wandor: Look Back in Gender, Methuen 1987

Students arc very strongly encouraged to read theatre periodicals in the library to keep up with new developments: n.b. Plays and Players, Theatre Record, New Theatre Quarterly.


Pattern of the Module:

Term 1: Postwar British theatre: Realism and the Absurd

Term 2: Playwrighting after 1968. exploring national, personal and gendered identity

Term 3: Theatre since the Cold War