Drama and English Literature

BA (Hons)

Intermediate award(s): CertHE, DipHE

This course is available in Clearing.

The combination of drama and English literature enhances your theoretical and practical understanding of a varied selection of texts and performance practices.

Course overview

The combination of drama and English literature offers a challenging and stimulating course of complementary study that seeks to enhance your theoretical and practical understanding of a varied selection of texts and performance practices. It is also intended to equip you with a set of skills much in demand by a range of potential employers.

Reading English literature allows you to study some of the most interesting and exciting books ever written. The English literature course strikes a balance between the study of writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Dickens, and Woolf, and the exploration of less traditional areas like modern science fiction, children's literature and contemporary women's writing. Drama offers an excellent balance of theory and practice, enabling you to engage with key performance texts and practices across the 20th and 21st centuries.

Our Department of Music and Performing Arts offers outstanding technical and theatre facilities that will give you the opportunity to hone your performance skills in a variety of exciting performance events. Study visits to local and national theatres help broaden your outlook and add a further dimension to your studies, both in English literature and drama.

Additional course information

The majority of modules on our drama course have a particular emphasis on 20th-century and contemporary theatre practice, although you can opt to study Shakespeare in your second year. Courses may include, for example, modules such as Performance Practitioners, Contemporary Texts and Devising Performance, in which we explore texts and practices from the 20th century onwards, through both theoretical study and practical workshops.

The drama course employs a wide variety of learning and teaching methods and strategies in order to accommodate the wide range of activities undertaken. Modules are taught through group seminars and workshops, which involve you in detailed textual and critical analysis and practical explorations. This work is balanced between tutor-led, student-led and self-directed study, and complemented by resource-based learning, including library study and attendance at performances, galleries and installations.

The English literature course also offers opportunities to take modules in related subjects like film, philosophy or writing (creative or journalistic). Whatever area you choose to study, you will enjoy the full support of our highly experienced teaching staff.

Module guide

Year one core modules
  • Introduction to English Literature 1 (Semester 1)

    This module gives you an outline knowledge of the history of English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the end of the 18th century. It uses a selection of texts taken from volume 1 of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, supplemented by handouts, to give examples of different literary forms belonging to every period of English literary history prior to the Romantic movement. The juxtaposition of pieces by well-known authors such as Chaucer, Marlowe, Milton and Swift with less familiar texts is intended to encourage reflection upon what constitutes the 'canon'. You are expected to acquire a basic knowledge of the terms used in English literary history ('Medieval', 'Tudor', 'Renaissance', 'Reformation', 'Early Modern', 'Restoration', 'Augusta', 'NeoClassical', 'Enlightenment', 'Sensibility') and encouraged to think critically about these terms. During the course of this module (and its sister module in semester 2) we want you not only to acquire a sense of literary history and an outline knowledge of the main literary periods. We also hope you will engage in a direct and pleasurable way with a variety of extremely interesting texts. We have chosen a selection of poems, plays, and works of prose fiction which we ourselves find pleasurable and interesting to read and we hope you will find them equally exciting, even if some of them seem difficult at first. The module complements Ways of Reading by offering a broad overview rather than focusing on specific critical approaches but we hope that some of the close reading skills acquired while taking Ways of Reading can also be put into practice on this module. The core book for the module and an essential purchase is Greenblatt, S. et al, eds (2006). The Norton Anthology of English Literature (8th edition), vol. 1, New York and London: W.W. Norton. It can be usefully supplemented by one of a number of recent histories of English literature. A good and student-friendly one is Alexander, M. (2007). A History of English Literature, 2nd edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan. All the texts listed below which will be taught in the first semester are available in the Norton anthology except Etherege, The Man of Mode which will need to be purchased separately. Some references to Anglo-Saxon poetry will be made in the introductory lecture and you are encouraged to look at Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, which can be found in the Norton anthology [Anglo-Saxon poetry]; Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Miller's Tale'; Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; selected Renaissance lyric poems (including Shakespeare and Donne) ;John Milton, Paradise Lost Book 1; John Milton, Paradise Lost Book 2; George Etherege, The Man of Mode; John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, selected poems; Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels Book 4; Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative of [his] Life.

  • Performance Processes

    This module aims to provide you with an introductory understanding of the development of Western performance, engaging in an examination of both practice and critical material. Through a consideration of significant moments, key movements and practitioners in the history of Western performance, you will be encouraged to question the nature and function of performance, theatre and music and consider their interdisciplinarity. Within this context, you will be introduced to a range of performance texts as examples for a practical exploration. The historical investigation of key movements and practitioners will be approached with an emphasis on performance processes rather than end product. You will be introduced to a variety of working methodologies and practices from the historical trajectory of Western performance, addressing their political, cultural and socioeconomic significance. Through relating theoretical and practical approaches, the module will seek to examine changes in form and conventions in performance practices.

  • Studio Performance

    In this module, you will be part of a studio-based collaborative live performance, based on a selected text or combination of texts, which often involves our active deconstruction or reinvention of the piece to be performed. The notion of 'text' might include play-text, music theatre text, other devised performance works and live or recorded music too. We will analyse our text's significant actions and meanings, and explore the variety of ways in which these could be made manifest in performance. Lighting and sound designs will be developed for the performance and documented for use by back-stage technicians. You will be encouraged to explore the possibilities for effective set design in the studio and to make use of available resources for costume design. Throughout rehearsals, we will investigate ideas of postmodern performance in practice and consider how the production of such work might differ from traditional techniques in theatre-making.

  • Ways of Reading

    This module introduces you to studying English at university and also provides opportunities for you to develop skills such as reading critically and communicating clearly. The first semester offers an overview of the degree structure and an examination of some key critical terms, problems and approaches that concern students of English, including, for example: the literary canon and value; narrative theory; realism and representation; genre; the production of meaning; relationships between literature, history and the world; selected approaches to literature, including formalist, new historicist, feminist, psychoanalytical and postcolonial criticism, and relationships between literature and identity. These topics are explored through a selection of critical texts included in the module study pack and short extracts from plays, novels, short stories and poems (extracts provided). You will attend a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week; a library induction session is substituted for one session. This part of the module is assessed by a multi-phase assessment package of two essays which allows you to develop your reflective, critical and essay-writing skills; this assessment comprises part of your personal dvelopment planning (PDP). In the first stage of this assessment, you write a diagnostic essay (1,500 words) in which you reflect on your learning experience. This essay is supported by two essay-writing workshops. In the second stage of this assessment, you develop your essay-writing skills through analysis of a critical text and reflection on this process (1,500 words). Both essays are marked with particular attention to the quality of their writing, argument, presentation and referencing apparatus. In the second semester you will attend a two-hour seminar each week. In these seminars you'll develop the ideas and skills introduced in the first semester and receive further guidance on writing essays and presenting work. Topics include referencing and bibliographies; appropriate register, tone and vocabulary; work on clarity, the construction of coherent arguments and the substantiation of points by evidence. In the first part of this semester, you are also given guidance on oral presentation skills. You practice these skills and develop your knowledge of topics introduced in the first semester by giving an assessed presentation (five minutes). As part of this assessment, students are required to produce a one-page handout for members of the seminar group. The later part of the second semester develops some of the ideas introduced in the first semester through additional critical reading and detailed application of ideas to selected literary texts covered in English Literature 1 and 2. This work helps you to prepare the final assignment, which consists of a critical analysis of a literary text or concept (2,500 words).

  • Introduction to English Literature 2 (Semester 2)

    This module follows on from English Literature 1 and gives an outline knowledge of the history of English literature from the Romantic period to the present. It uses a selection of texts taken from volume 2 of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, supplemented by handouts, to give examples of different literary forms belonging to every period of English literary history since 1789. The juxtaposition of pieces by well-known authors such as Blake, Tennyson, Conrad, Woolf, Eliot and Achebe with less familiar texts is intended to encourage reflection upon what constitutes the 'canon'. You are expected to acquire a basic knowledge of the terms used for English literary history since 1789 ('Romantic', 'Victorian', 'Modernist', 'Postmodernist', 'Postcolonial') and encouraged to think critically about these terms. The first assessment takes the form of an essay in which you are expected to demonstrate your ability to read a literary text within a historical and cultural context. The second assessment takes the form of an examination in which you are expected to demonstrate your ability to read a literary text within a historical and cultural context.

Year two core modules
  • Making Performance
  • The Body in Performance
  • Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama
  • Post-colonialism
Year three core modules
  • Devising Performance
  • Major Project in Drama or English


Assessment is carried out via a very broad mix of methods including examinations, essays, reports, oral presentations, studio and public performance, an individual major project plus a range of practice-based research techniques.

A proportion of the degree is aimed at facilitating your creative development and integrates practice and theory. This extends to the forms of assessment that you will encounter.

Personal development planning (PDP) is an integral part of assessment at Anglia Ruskin which encourages you to reflect, and evaluate, personal progress in your modules and the degree course, and on the skills and abilities acquired in the degree course and their value outside the domain of academic literary studies.

Study abroad options

Our English Literature Department has exchange agreements with Université de Franche-Comte, Besançon, France; Université de Provence, France; Universidad de Huelva, Spain; Universidad de Sevilla, Spain; and Valparaiso University, Indiana, USA.

Special features

Our Drama and English Literature degree offers a distinctive and creative integration of practice and theory, as well as vocational experience. Teaching is provided by first-class, research-active staff who are recognised, nationally and internationally, as experts in their field and who are often professional practitioners.

Our Drama and English Literature departments have an outstanding reputation for both teaching and research. They consistently score highly in the Guardian's subject league tables and are two of Anglia Ruskin's departments rated 'Excellent' by The Sunday Times University Guide.


Our outstanding facilities include two dedicated drama centres, complete with a flexible black-box performance space, and the Mumford Theatre, a full-size receiving house for professional touring companies.

You can also access the Anglia Ruskin Music Centre, which includes lecture and practice rooms, a recital hall and a group of five state-of-the-art computer music studios for the creation, recording and manipulation of acoustic and electronically produced sound. The studios house a range of technological equipment, including a wide selection of specialist computer hardware and software. All computers have full internet and intranet access and are supported by extensive online facilities and resources.

Our campus libraries offer a wide range of publications and a variety of study facilities, including open-access computers, areas for quiet or group study and bookable rooms. We also have an extensive digital library providing on and off-site access to e-books, e-journals and databases.

We endeavour to make our libraries as accessible as possible for all our students. During semester time, they open 24 hours a day from Monday to Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday and for 12 hours on Sunday.

IT resources
Our open access computer facilities provide free access to the internet, email, messaging services and the full Microsoft Office suite. A high-speed wireless service is also available in all key areas on campus. If you are away from campus or a distant learner, our student desktop and its many applications can be accessed remotely using the internet. Your personal student email account provides free document storage, calendar facilities and social networking opportunities.

Throughout your studies you will have access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), providing course notes, reading materials and multi-media content to support your learning, while our e:Vision system gives you instant access to your academic record and your timetable.

Course leader

Dr Sue Wilson

Associated careers

The practical and vocational skills gained through this course, combined with the ability to specialise in a particular field, will make you particularly attractive to potential employers within the industry.

In addition to the most popular choice of teaching, our graduates go on to a huge variety of careers, including journalism, television, radio, performing, arts administration, gallery work, fundraising, personnel work, publishing, librarianship, marketing, local authority work, publicity, social work and tourism.

An important feature of the curriculum is the modules that have a vocational bias, which encourage you to acquire, and reflect on, vocational experience through self-organised placement projects.

Research shows that the study of the creative arts and humanities to an enhanced level provides the ideal training for any position requiring quick thinking, self-reliance, imagination, teamwork, and the ability to organise both yourself and others.

Links with industry and professional recognition

We have fostered close links with The Junction, an arts venue in Cambridge, where you can see a variety of theatre and music performance works. Visiting artists and performers are regularly invited to give master-classes and workshops across our courses. We also offer a number of internships with local theatre companies which all students can apply for in order to gain direct experience of running a professional company.

There will be an opportunity to apply for an internship with award-winning theatre company NIE towards the end of your course in order to experience the production side of running a professional, touring theatre company.

Work placements

In drama, students can apply for internships with professional, local theatre companies and arts venues in the second and third years.

Main requirements:
  • 220 - 260 UCAS Tariff Points from a minimum of 2 A levels (or equivalent), including grade B in Drama, Theatre Studies or a related subject
  • 3 GCSEs at grade C or above
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 7.0 ( Academic level) or equivalent English Language qualification, as recognised by Anglia Ruskin University
  • A maximum of 60 UCAS Tariff points may come from AS level (or equivalent)
  • We consider each application individually and an offer in the range of 220-260 points will be made according to a number of criteria including predicted grades and relevant experience.
Alternative qualifications accepted:
  • UCAS Tariff points acquired from BTEC Level 3 Diplomas in a related subject are accepted
  • Access to HE Diplomas at overall Pass grade are accepted, related subjects are required
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 24 points is accepted, this must include a related subject
  • UCAS Tariff points from the Irish Leaving Certificate are accepted
  • UCAS Tariff points from Scottish Advanced Highers are accepted
  • UCAS Tariff points from Scottish Highers are accepted
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email admissions@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

Entry requirements listed are for September 2015/January 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

Please note we do not accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they are combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International and EU applicants

We welcome applications from International and EU students. Please select one of the links below for English language and country-specific entry requirement information.
If you do not meet the above requirements, then there is an alternative. Consider entry to the course via an integrated foundation year at Cambridge Ruskin International College, an associate college of Anglia Ruskin, which is located on our Cambridge campus.

How to apply

UK & EU applicants

Apply via UCAS

International applicants
Apply online

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