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What could you study during your degree at Warwick?

Theatre and Performance modules at Warwick

Modules involve seminars and lectures on a set topic. You will take them at every stage of your degree and complete assignments for assessment. Look at your course page to see which modules are compulsory or optional for your course.

At Warwick, your teachers will be experts who are passionate about their work. Everything you learn will be inspired by research and practice. You will develop a broad understanding of the discipline and the relationship between theory and practice. You will also discover a world of performance-making possibilities.

Seminar

A seminar is a group discussion where you'll take part and share your views. They are often led by postgraduates who have already completed their first degree and specialise in a similar topic. Your seminar leader will help you to explore and understand the material together.

Lecture

A lecture is usually one person talking to a large group of students. Lecturers are usually research specialists in the topic they're talking about. They will inspire you with new ideas and insights on your topic.

Assignments

Assignments in the department consist of practical and written coursework. Assignments will spread out across the year, the timing of which will depend on the optional modules you decide to take.


Module list

First year core modules

This module will introduce you to the concept of studying 'performance'.

You will explore an array of contemporary performance practices, and your tutor-led workshops will dig deep into topics including:

  • devising
  • clowning
  • improvisation
  • performance art
  • physical theatre
  • site-specific performance
  • various forms of multimedia performance

You will explore these through the study of a range of leading practitioners and theatre companies. In the past, these have included: Spymonkey, Jacques Lecoq, Pina Bausch, Frantic Assembly, Mark Ravenhill, Akram Khan and Gob Squad.

At the end of the module, you will present your own work, which will show the influences of the topics you have covered.

In this module, you will explore selected plays and texts, and see how they are transformed from the page to stage or performance. You will also have the opportunity to experiment practically with texts in performance.

You will discover the relationship between theory and practice, looking at a wide range of topics such as:

  • staging
  • genre
  • narrative structure
  • performance strategies
  • dramaturgical thinking
  • directorial conceptualization
  • the changing role and function of the audience

This module will help you develop basic strategies, methodologies and tools of analysis. These will help you to ‘read’, respond and write about theatre and performance.

You will also experience a variety of productions and visit some of the most significant performance venues in our region. These include the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Belgrade Theatre and the Birmingham REP, and Warwick Arts Centre on our own campus.

You will explore key concepts in theatre and performance studies in this module.

You will uncover what theatre and performance can tell us about our cultures, societies and identities. You will then apply your understanding to case studies from around the world. These will include ‘canonical’ events and alternative practices, within theatres and beyond them.

This module will also help you to hone your academic writing, research and presentation skills. These will serve you throughout your degree.


Year Two core modules

This module explores the intersections between Theatre and Performance Studies and other disciplines, such as:

  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Global Sustainable Development
  • Life Sciences
  • Computer Science

It is part-practical and part-theoretical. You will take part in a series of lectures and seminars across host departments in your first term. In your second term, you will undertake practice-based work. This will culminate in a practical realisation of a specific issue or enquiry.

By the end of this module, you will be able to articulate the ways that Theatre and Performance Studies can engage with other subjects and the world around us. You will know how to use unconventional places to create effective performances.


Year Two and Three optional modules

“Having a variety of theoretical and practical modules has hugely expanded my understanding of theatre and performance. The optionality is helpful as you get to hone in on different areas of the course that really interest you. You’re able to tailor your degree to suit you, your interests and how you like to study and be assessed.” - Caitlin, 2nd year student

This module explores the histories of applied theatre across varied geographical contexts. You will discover how theatre helps in global development, education, health and wellbeing, and more. You will interrogate the emergent debates that are shaping research and practice in applied theatre today, including:

  • the ethics of intervention
  • sustainability
  • instrumentalising theatre to achieve social and educative outcomes

Might you be a part of the next generation of theatre historians? If so, this module is for you. You will get hands-on with theatre history.

We will give you the tools to locate original sources in archives and analyse them. You will critique existing theatre histories and write new ones.

You will consider the (sometimes unique) problems that historians writing about theatre and performance may face. You will develop strategies to overcome these issues in the writing and presentation of your own theatre histories.

"This module gave me the opportunity to do an in-depth archival project about a pier near where I live. I went to local archives, I learnt how to use editing software and created a video essay. It is an assessment that I can now use for a portfolio in the future." - Harriet, 3rd year student

This module emphasises practical skills and is taught by an industry professional. It will give you an insight into the theory and practice of strategic marketing and audience development for the arts.

You will consider the special challenges of marketing creative products. You will create marketing materials, use social media, budget and evaluate marketing activities. And you will explore live case-studies, with presentations from specialists in the creative sector.

"This was the most interesting one for me. It gave me the opportunity to work alongside different theatre companies in the local area as part of a placement. It is a module that sparked an interest in me that I did not know I had!" - Alice, 3rd year student

This module explores the history of avant-garde film, video, sound, and installation work.

You will make connections between a variety of disparate movements and trends. These range from the 'high art' domain of 1920s avant-garde film to the popular eruptions of early 80s hip-hop.

You will discover the persistent currents of interaction and exchange between avant-garde and popular cultures.

More relevant than ever, this module addresses the changing historical, political and cultural realities of Europe.

You will explore recent plays, performances, and films from across the continent. You will consider how European theatre and performance has engaged with pressing issues and concerns.

You might look at issues such as:

  • war
  • migration
  • the refugee crisis
  • right-wing nationalism
  • the ongoing financial crisis
  • secularism
  • the rise of religious extremism
  • national security
  • the crisis of the EU

Explore how theatre practitioners bring productions to life.

How do we transform a play on the page into a script for the stage? How do we shape a story for live performance through a range of theatrical languages including words, movement, sound, site, imagery and multi-media?

You will investigate the link between scripts and performances, discovering different interpretative approaches. You will explore creative practice using writing, research, art, and imagination as you develop storyboards, image boards, rhythm analyses, actors’ packets, programme essays, study guides, and background research presented in written text, images, music, and more.

You will then create a series of practice-based portfolio entries for assessment.

By the end of this module, you will understand the role of the dramaturg in the contemporary theatre. You will use dramaturgical tools of performance analysis and creative research, and understand different dramatic structures and styles.

This module will let you explore immersive practices in theatres - for example, environmental theatre, immersive theatre, immersive cinema and surround sound. You will then be introduced to a range of technologies which draw in the participants. These include virtual reality, 360-degree video, motion tracking, proxemics and binaural sound.

This year I produced an immersive piece with two other women in the department about the experiences of black women; their culture, heritage and hair. This was a really exciting project; it brought us closer together, we were happy with the end result and lots of people were talking about the piece - Shaquira, 3rd year student

This module explores the implications of contemporary intercultural performance. We will look at how traditions are used from different cultures in contemporary theatre and performance.

You will examine the work of artists and organisations such as Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine and Disney. You will investigate forms such as Japanese Takarazuka, Australian musicals and African exhibitions.

You will take part in discussions and group tasks, exploring subjects like these:

  • aesthetic issues
  • ethical issues
  • the effect of cultural imperialism and globalisation on production

Love remains an ever intriguing and complex emotion.

Representations of love have been idealised, romanticised and formalised as part of theatre and performance tradition over centuries. In recent years, love has also become visible (again) as a contested theoretical problem and political issue.

This module addresses the “love question” as an open and exciting interdisciplinary field – one that traverses the arts, the humanities and the sciences.

On this module you will consider the cultural history of madness.

You will explore 20th and 21st century examples of theatre, film, and literature which represent mental ill health. You will examine theoretical, philosophical, historical, sociological and medical texts.

Together we will explore not only what is 'madness', but how and why one might choose to represent it.

"This module really opened my mind to new ideas, improved my ability to engage with alternative views to my own and helped me understand how to approach sensitive themes." - Beth, 2nd year student

This module analyses ways in which theatre and performance engages with gender and sexuality. You will explore how it reveals, challenges, deconstructs and resists the dominant social norms.

We will begin with the traditionally 'unmarked' dominance of white heterosexual men. We will then interrogate notions of the 'other' as performances of gender and sexual identities.

You will engage with a range of plays, practitioners, performance artists and documentary examples in this module.

As part of your degree you can opt to undertake a structured placement at an arts or cultural organisation.

This will help you to understand their pressures, requirements, workflow and practices.

You will gain an understanding of the wider operation and activity of the artist/company/organisation in question. This opportunity also gives you valuable hands-on experience which could influence your future career choices.

"The module offered such a unique opportunity of seeing the inner workings of a professional theatre company. I observed the adaptation of the classic Kafka story, and watched how professional creatives crafted a performance from page to stage." - Emma, 2nd year student.

Read Emma's blog post

This module is about the here and now, looking at subjects of widespread public debate in the 21st century. These could include:

  • legislation
  • media campaigns
  • migration
  • the north/south divide
  • political controversy
  • homelessness
  • riots
  • travellers and Gypsies

You will address the theatrical treatment of issues, looking at a range of different theatrical contexts and forms. These range from large-scale plays for major theatres, to smaller-scale community pieces. They encompass various styles including musicals, dance theatre, verbatim and monologues.

"A sound walk, or walking piece, is any walk that focuses on listening to the environment, with or without use of technology, or adds to the experience through the use of sound or voice. This can include a scripted or choreographed score or work that has additional audio elements.” (Museum of Walking)

You will start by investigating the work of various artists, researchers and communities. You will see how they've used walking as a tool of investigation and provocation with respect to their spatial, cultural and political surroundings.

You will also explore how sound works are produced. You will discover how to augment or radically alter the embodied experience of "place".

The module culminates in the creation of your own sound walk for a given site.

Working chronologically, in this module you will study South African Theatre throughout history. You will study plays and visual material.

You will start exploring pre-colonial performance by indigenous peoples. After that, you'll move through the process of colonisation, urbanisation, and Apartheid, and end with the post-Apartheid period.

This will help you to see how the socio-historic and economic changes affected the development of theatre in South Africa.

In this module, you will explore how British artists have engaged with nationalism and national identity during the 20th and 21st centuries.

You will investigate different manifestations of ‘national theatres’ across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You will study works by playwrights, theatre-makers and performance artists.

You will explore plays and performances hailed as seminal ‘state of the nation’ works. In turn, you will see those which challenge understandings of national identity in the contemporary moment.

This module is run in partnership with Warwick Arts Centre, our award-winning, multi-artform venue on campus. You will also receive lectures from visiting speakers in creative and cultural sectors across the UK.

It will introduce you to the principles, practices and considerations for running an arts venue, including:

  • programming, commissioning and presenting work
  • supporting artist development
  • marketing work to audiences
  • undertaking outreach and engagement activities
  • setting up and running a small theatre company
  • making touring arrangements
  • identifying opportunities for funding

This module traces the diversity of theme and form in the theatre of Africa in the post-colonial context.

It focuses on the social, political and economic changes that have influenced the development of theatre there.

You will work with texts in translation, and discuss topics like these in seminars:

  • role of story-telling
  • enactment and ritual theatre
  • theatrical responses to colonialism
  • issues related to gender

"Taking this module really broadened my understanding of how theatre can be used to explore and challenge ideas of identity and different interpretations of history, and I’m excited to develop my knowledge of African theatre in the future." - Beth, 2nd year student

Keep reading Beth's blog

This is one of our most popular modules. Explore drama and theatre in community settings, such as criminal justice and social service agencies.

You will learn from one of Britain’s leading theatre practitioners working in the criminal justice system.

You will be given a grounding in the contexts, objectives and strategies of drama and theatre in community settings. You will also develop skills in workshop planning, facilitation, behaviour management, and devising for specific contexts.

For your final assessment, you will work in a small group to create a performance and workshop for a prison audience.

  • How has ‘Irishness’ been depicted in a range of plays and performances of the twentieth century?
  • How have Irish plays been affected by concepts such as landscape, memory, history and myth?
  • How has Irish theatre reflected the formation of an Irish nation and been used to both rehearse and critique Ireland after the English?
  • How have Irish playwrights reflected on contemporary events and engaged with the wider international world?

These are some of the questions that you may explore through this module.

This module offers an engaging introduction to the politics of identity and performance.

You will enjoy a theoretical and practical exploration of a variety of artistic forms. These range from biographical drama to live art and stand-up comedy.

You will develop your devising skills too. You will create small group or solo practice-based projects that tackle and present issues of identity.

Explore live modern performance, looking at techniques and practicing new skills.

You will discover new ideas about acting, and explore the relationships between performers and their audiences. You will explore different genres, such as stand-up comedy, improvisation, and audience engagement.

You will study effective acting and performing, and explore key explanations of presence and communication.

As well as exploring theory, you will sharpen your own skills by taking part in four blocks of workshops and performance classes.

By the end of the module, you will have improved your own performance skills, and be able to carefully analyse others.

Engage creatively with the moving image, develop your practical skills, and learn how to create high-quality productions.

In this module, you will work in groups to create two videos for assessment: one on a set text, and one on a topic of your choosing. We will train you with the specialist equipment in our edit suite including video and audio editing on Adobe Premiere Pro; colour grading using Speedgrade; and incorporating motion graphics and compositing with After Effects.

The only limits are your imagination; former students have created films, stop-frame animations, multimedia installations and more.

By the end of this module, you will have learned how to bring an idea to life for film. You will be able to operate cameras and associated kit, and edit and finalise your footage.

Discover what’s involved in writing for the stage.

This module will develop your practical and creative skills in playwriting. You will take part in workshops, critical seminars, and discussions.

You will consider the constituent elements of dramatic text, both in your own work and that of notable practitioners. These include:

  • action
  • character
  • dialogue
  • space

The module will expose you to different techniques and strategies of the playwriting craft. At the same time it will encourage you to toy with “dramaturgical rules” in search for your individual voice as a writer.

"We will often be set a small writing task at the end of one class and have to go away and complete it for the next; this can be useful to give us a bit of direction in developing our writing, often forcing us to be brave and try new approaches or techniques that we may not otherwise have attempted!" - Olivia, 2nd year student


Year Three optional core modules

You will choose between these two options in your third year.

You will carry out independent research into an area of theatre and performance studies that you are passionate about. You will write an extended dissertation on your findings.

Throughout the research and writing process you will be supported by structured class activities. You will receive regular one-to-one supervision meetings with a member of the academic team.

You will present your research as an academic poster. You will also present at our department's undergraduate conference during the course of the year.

You will develop practical work that is grounded in research. This may take a range of forms, including (but not limited to):

  • live theatre
  • participatory workshops
  • an installation
  • a video
  • a written play
  • a space
  • a costume design

You will be supported through in-class workshops, supervision meetings, and work-in-progress showings.

Your final work will be showcased as part of the Department’s Verge Festival at Warwick Arts Centre, after which you will write a critical reflection on your creation process and performance.


Further options: Study Abroad and external modules

Every student has the opportunity to spend a year abroad studying at one of our partner institutions.

You can extend your period of study from three to four years, with the intercalated year taking place between your second and final year. The third year is spent at one of our partner institutions, with students returning for a fourth year to complete their degree.

All study abroad opportunities are subject to availability and the location of these places changes regularly but in the past have included institutions in Australia, China, Denmark, Netherlands and North and Latin America.

Your year abroad will be transformational in developing your understanding of other cultures. Warwick students have benefited hugely from engaging fully in the cultural and social life of their host country. An intercalated year, coupled with Warwick’s reputation for employability, will help give you an edge when it comes to taking your first steps beyond university.

Find out more about Study Abroad

Do you have a second passion that you don’t want to lose completely at university?

In second- and third-year you are able to select modules outside of your home department. Each year a number of our students will take modules in subjects such as:

  • Creative Writing
  • English
  • Film and Television Studies
  • History
  • Languages
  • Politics
  • Psychology

The Centre for Professional Education also run an Introduction to Secondary Teaching in Drama and Theatre Studies module. This includes a school placement, and proves especially popular with our students.


Please note: We update our modules every year based on availability and demand, and we update our course content too. The content on this page gives you a really strong indication of what your course will offer, but given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. Read our terms and conditions to find out more.