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2nd Year Outlines 2014/15

Year 2 - 120 CATS

  • Single Honours Students take modules totalling 120 CATS (which may include 30 CATS from other departments - external modules)
  • English and Theatre Students must take at least 30 CATS in Theatre (and up to (90 CATS) with at least 30 CATS in English.
  • Other Joint Students take modules totalling 30 CATS (and may opt to take a further 60 CATS in the department as external module(s)).
  • External Students may take some modules subject to approval and availability - please contact Tim White in the Summer Term

Students may elect to take one or more IATL interdisciplinary modules as an option, or options, subject to the approval of their Chair of the Department. These modules address topics that are amenable to cross-faculty study, and are designed to enrich single disciplinary approaches.


Writing for Performance

The goal of this module is to introduce students to different dramaturgical approaches and creative processes embodied in a range of textual forms–from traditional dramatic writing to performance scenarios. The main purposes of the module are to enable students to develop their practical and creative skills in playwriting and also their critical skills in exploring the strategies and processes involved in their own work and that of notable practitioners.

Through a combination of writing workshops, critical seminars, and discussions students will be exposed both to traditional dramaturgical thinking rooted in cause and effect logic and to nonlinear writing based on principles of montage, association and intuition. Constituent elements of the dramatic text such as action, character, dialogue, space and ways in which they function within different dramatic structures will be explored simultaneously with more experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to playwriting rooted in visual art and popular culture. The relationship between the playwright and the context within which she/he writes will also be taken into account.

25% - Practical Exam
25% - Portfolio
50% - Practical Exam


Theatre in the Community

The Theatre in the Community module provides an exploration of theoretical and practical strategies that are currently in evidence within contemporary community theatre practice. The work ranges through theoretical studies of the key political or social philosophies that have informed community theatre practice. This stage of the module includes a particular emphasis on how theories of criminology have informed theatre work with offenders. It continues through an examination of practical strategies which encompass games and exercises for use with community groups. Within this there is reference to group dynamics, community contexts and the primary objectives achievable within practice of this kind. The module leads towards the devising of a project which will take place in a community context. In the final part of the module, the students get to plan, devise and perform a performance or series of workshops within a community context in the Coventry or Staffordshire area.

25% - Practice-based assessment
25% - Critical Review (2500 words)
50% - Practical examination


Audio-Visual Avant-Gardes

This module explores the history of avant-garde film, video, sound, and installation work from the early twentieth century up to the present day. It will allow you to engage both conceptually and practically with a wide range of forms, movements and practices, and to explore the persistent currents of interaction and exchange between avant-garde and popular cultures. It will examine the contexts from which the term ‘Avant-garde’ emerges, and the ways in which the description has been employed in various periods and places, by considering it in relation to alternative descriptors such as: ‘underground’, ‘experimental’ and ‘subcultural’. The module operates as a broad survey that will help you to make connections amongst a variety of disparate movements and trends, from the 'high art' domain of 1920s avant-garde film to the popular eruptions of early 80s hip-hop, while also providing the opportunity for detailed analysis of a number of key works.

During the course of the module students will work in groups to research, re-create and investigate key works and practices covered in each term, including: found footage filmmaking and the remix, minimalist sculpture and film/video, expanded cinema and the audiovisual performance installation, video as object and the interactive installation.

30 CAT
25% Essay (2500 words)
25% Critical Review
50% Exam - 3 hours

15 CAT
50% Essay (2500 words)
50% Exam 1.5 hours



This module will provide an overview of the theory and practice of strategic marketing and audience development for theatre, with a special emphasis on practical application. Over the course of module we will look at general marketing theory, the special challenges of marketing creative products and the use of market intelligence and data. We will also look at different organisational approaches to being audience focused, and associated implications for programming, resource management, internal communications and organisational structures. Other specific areas to be covered will include marketing events on tour, festival marketing, using social media and audience research.

The taught section of the module focuses on general marketing theory as it applies to arts organisations, specifically theatres and theatre companies. We will start by looking at the role of marketing in arts organisations, moving on to marketing as a strategic management tool. Later we will move onto the tactical marketing tools in common use in arts organisations, including social media. At the end of the course we will cover the role of the marketer and how contracting effects marketing activity and planning. The last two taught sessions will include case studies and sample marketing plans (both strategic and campaign), in preparation for the project that students will undertake from February.

After the taught portion of the course, students will be required to work on a specific project within an existing arts organisation, using them as a case study for an audience-focused or marketing project. This will be assessed against specific criteria and will be shared with the organisation with a view to it being of practical use to them. A written assignment of the project will comprise 50% of the overall mark.

25% Essay (3000 words)
25% Seminar Presentation
50% Written Assignment 5000 words



Nina: Your play’s hard to act, there are no living people in it.
Treplev: Living people! We should show life neither as it is nor as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams.
Nina: There’s not much action, it’s just a lot of speeches. I think a play really needs a love interest.
(Chekhov, The Seagull)

Chekhov’s characters poignantly argue about key aspects of dramaturgy: form, content, action and character. 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? In this practice-based module, you will explore how dramaturgy helps theatre practitioners answer these questions of form, content, action and character. You will learn and experience what a dramaturg does primarily through creative practice using writing, research, art, and imagination as you develop storyboards, image boards, rhythm analyses, actors’ packets, and background research presented in written text, images, music, and more.

You will interrogate the connection between the script (in the broadest sense of the term) and the live performance(s) and will explore different methods of performance analysis of both written plays and non-text-based performance forms that can result in various possible interpretations and page-to-stage approaches. You will work on various dramaturgical techniques in and out of class that will receive oral feedback in class and are structured to be preparation for the practice-based portfolio entries.

60% Practice-based Portfolio
40% Project-based assessment


Medieval and Elizabethan Playing Places and Performances

This module aims to make use of recent research into regional and London-based performance in the Medieval and Elizabethan periods in England in order to study the range of performance styles and spaces developed by, and available to, Shakespeare and his contemporaries as they established playing as a lucrative profession in Elizabethan England. The module considers the legacy of medieval church and civic performance as well as the development of travelling playing companies and provincial entertainments in great houses. A combination of seminars and workshops is used to focus on specific aspects of performance in order to understand how particular scripts were brought to life by particular performers at particular venues. Amateur as well as professional performance is discussed, taking into account provincial as well as metropolitan performance and acknowledging European influence where appropriate.

Students will be required to complete two portfolios, making entries on a weekly basis, one based on gathered historical evidence relating to the playing places and styles of performance discussed in seminars, and one documenting and analysing the weekly practical workshop exploration of plays/entertainments. These portfolios will be submitted for assessment at the end of the spring term. Each student will also be required to contribute one seminar presentation or poster in the autumn term. Each student’s work for the module will culminate in an assessed essay/project (3,500 words or equivalent), on a topic of the student’s own choosing in consultation with the module tutors, to be submitted at the end of the sixth week of the summer term.

10% Assessed Seminar Presentation
25% Portfolio 1
25% Portfolio 2
40% Essay


Pantomime, Culture & Ideology

This module option will commence with a discussion of pantomime today. We will then look at the origins of the British pantomime tradition in the commedia del arte, the development of English pantomime in the eighteenth century, Regency pantomime (when the clown, Grimaldi, became prominent), and Victorian pantomime, when the modern form we know today began to emerge from music hall, melodrama and burlesque. Finally, we will return to the twentieth-twenty-first centuries. A particular emphasis of this option will be on pantomime’s social, cultural and ideological functions and on its treatment of issues such as race, gender and class.

60% Essay – 3000 words
20% Seminar Contributions – 1000 words
20% Written Portfolio – 1000 words


Theatre in the African Context

The aim in this module is to trace the diversity of theme and form of theatre in Africa in the post-colonial context. It will particularly focus on the influences on the development and changes (social, political and economic) that have affected the development of theatre in Africa. It will look at a diversity of cultural and linguistic contexts (North, West, East and Southern African), where necessary looking at plays in translation.

By the end of this module the students should be able to

  • articulate the role colonialism has played on the development of post-colonial theatre in Africa.
  • analyse the range of forms and foci that have developed in various theatrical practices across the continent.
  • critically evaluate the impact socio-political, historic and economic changes have made on the theatre-makers and audiences of the plays
  • Independently undertake both primary and secondary reading and articulate research findings orally (possibly as presentational work) and in writing

50% - Essay (2500 words)
50% - Written exam (1.5 hours)


Religion, Secularity, and Affect in the Modern World

This inter-disciplinary course explores the ways in which theatre, performance and film intervene into debates about religion, secularity, and affect in the modern world. Even a cursory look at recent world events such as the storm over the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, the ire over the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, the demolition of the Babri mosque in India by right-wing Hindu groups, the hijab (heardscarf) controversy in Europe, the protests within the Sikh community in Birmingham around Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti (2004) exposes the fragility of claims of a secular public sphere.

The increasing public contestations of the secular ideal mobilize passionate performances through claims and counter-claims that confirm the importance of religion in public life. Our increasingly globalized world has not rendered religion irrelevant but rather ever more powerful. How do we understand this seeming paradox? What do we mean by “secular”? How has the category of “secular” been historically constructed in opposition to religion? What role does religion play in the shaping of national identity? Why is our increasingly globalized world confronted with the concurrent rise in religious extremism? How are progressive sexual politics in Western democracies instrumentalised to discriminate against religious minorities? We will consider how a variety of artists and scholars tackle these questions.

10% Assessed Seminar Presentation
40% Essay (2000 words)
50% 1.5 hr exam



The module draws on the practical skills of students and augments them with the competencies required to produce a video. Alongside a scriptwriting mentor, students will conceive and develop a video project that constitutes the final assessment. The module is based in the department’s edit suite and includes instruction in use of camcorders and training in video editing using Adobe Premiere Pro. Works have previously embraced stop-frame animation and multimedia installations and students are encouraged to engage creatively with the possibilities afforded by the moving image. This is an option choice that does demand considerable commitment beyond the allotted course hours and, to ensure that students are able to make full use of the department’s facilities the class size is limited to twelve students.

100% Practical Exam


Performing Online

What freedoms do we relinquish for the opportunity to participate in social networks online? How much of ourselves do we upload and what is the relationship between our online self and that which remains offline? What are the possibilities and dangers of virtual worlds? This module looks at the interventions of theatre practitioners and artists who consider these questions as well as interrogating posthuman and cyborg futures, culminating in small group projects that explore what it means to perform online.

50% - Project-based assessment
50% - Essay


20th Century Irish Theatre

This module looks at key developments in Irish theatre in the twentieth century. Beginning with the foundation of the Abbey theatre and with the theatre’s engagement with nationalist politics, we will examine the relationship between performance and the wider cultural, social and political issues of twentieth century Ireland. We will explore how a set of important cultural discourses in Irish and Northern Irish society have influenced themes in theatre and performance and how those themes have contributed to images of Irish identity and culture.

The module will investigate:
• How ‘Irishness’ was depicted in a range of plays and performances in the 20th Century
• How the staging of Irish plays are affected by concepts such as landscape, memory, history and myth
• How the Irish theatre reflected the formation of an Irish nation and was used to both rehearse and critique Ireland after the English
• How Irish playwrights have used major historical events to reflect on contemporary events
• How Irish plays and performances have engaged with the wider international world

40% Portfolio (2x1000 words)
60% Essay 3000 words


South African Theatre

In seminars we will look at play-texts and visual material where possible, to trace the ways in which theatre in South Africa has developed. We begin with theatre during apartheid, where we analyse the socio-political and economic effects of apartheid on artists’ collaborations and the development of new, hybrid forms. We then look at how post-apartheid theatre has responded to the new democracy in forms and themes.

50% - Essay (2500 words)
50% - Written exam (1.5 hours)


Nineteenth Century Melodrama

Melodrama was one of the most popular forms of entertainment ever. Once dismissed as a meaningless example of mass culture, it has increasingly attracted critical attention in recent years. This module explores the genre, paying attention to the diversity of nineteenth-century melodrama, its changing role in society and its theatrical realization. Commencing with Gothic melodramas the module will also consider melodrama as a form of social protest, its representation of women, its increasing obsession with spectacle and its gradual absorption into film and television.

60% Essay - 3000 words
20% Seminar Contributions - 1000 words
20% Portfolio 1000 words


Independent Project

This module offers an opportunity for students to pursue a piece of independent or group work that develops a particular line of investigation. The open brief would enable students to embark on theatre research, practice-based, creative writing, curatorial, design, video, technical or web-projects with supervision from a member of staff. At the point of choosing options, student(s) would submit an idea for a project that outlined aims, research questions and outputs. Staff would review these proposals and allocate a supervisor if the project was feasible and appropriate for honours level study.

100% - Essay (5000 words)
70% - Project-based assessment
30% - Critical Review (1500 words)