Drama BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

January, September

code: W490

Discuss your options, call 01245 686868

Overview

Investigate the world of contemporary theatre and performance practice. Gain practical experience and theoretical understanding through workshops and seminars. You’ll explore many different modes of performance, including text-based and devised work, as well as live art and innovative practice.

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Full description

Careers

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Our Drama course will prepare you for many different careers, and its combination of practical skills and academic understanding will make you stand out to employers. Studying drama will give you the ideal training for any position that requires creativity, self-reliance, imagination, teamwork and the ability to organise both yourself and others. You might decide to use your talent to help others by going on to take our MA Dramatherapy.

We have close links with many industry partners, including venues such as The Junction and Anglia Ruskin’s own professional venue, the Mumford Theatre, which regularly hosts professional touring companies and musicians. In these, you can see performances and gain work experience front of house or back stage in a professional theatre environment.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Performance Processes
    This module will give you an introductory understanding of the development of Western performance through an examination of both practice and critical material. By considering significant moments, key movements and practitioners in the history of Western performance, you'll question the nature and function of performance, theatre and music and consider their interdisciplinarity. Within this context, you'll be introduced to a range of performance texts as examples for a practical exploration. You'll approach the historical investigation of key movements and practitioners with an emphasis on performance processes rather than end product, being introduced to working methodologies and practices from the full history of Western performance, and addressing their political, cultural and socioeconomic significance. By relating theoretical and practical approaches, you'll examine changes in form and conventions in performance practices.
  • Performance Analysis
    This module will expand your understanding of the current scope of the field of Drama. By moving beyond conventional notions of 'drama' and 'theatre', it'll introduce you to the field of Performance Studies. You'll investigate a range of cultural and social practices "as" performance, such as sport, gender, race, ritual activities and elements of globalisation. Moving away from the conventions of theatre, you'll encounter performance in the everyday and think about your own social and cultural context in relation to undertaking performance analysis. You'll question and challenge key terms in the discipline, such as notions of acting and liveness, and explore ideas through case studies that draw on a number of discourses of performance from disciplines like gender studies, cultural studies and sociology. In seminars, you'll explore issues in, and approaches to, the theoretical and critical study of performance through a programme of case studies, critical reading and fieldwork exercises. These exercises will allow you to undertake observational research and reflection on the performance of the everyday through embodied experience.
  • Performance Skills - Introduction
    This practical module will develop your knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary performance skills. You'll receive training in appropriate technical skills, based on an explicit understanding of their physical and conceptual origins. You'll also explore notions of physical awareness through the acquisition of artistic, technical and performance skills. Through a developmental series of group practical workshops, you'll investigate a range of approaches to: the preparation and training of the performer; presence, physicality and voice; the work of the ensemble. In practical sessions, you'll also take part in discussions that will contextualise the material and/or exercises being explored.
  • Digital Performance
    On this module you'll be introduced to the creative use of technology in performance. You'll engage with multidisciplinary performance and explore the distinctions between making live and recorded performance. You'll also develop skills in the traditional technical aspects of theatre (lighting, sound and stage management) as well as newer technologies (video making, use of live feeds, internet performance, using software packages). Working collaboratively on small creative projects, you'll develop a short performance using a mixture of live and recorded effects, drawing on your own experience as a spectator to inform the creative decisions that you make.
  • Studio Performance
    In this module, you'll take part in a collaborative, studio-based live performance based on a selected text or combination of texts, often involving active deconstruction or reinvention of the piece. This 'text' might be a play-text, music theatre text, other devised performance works or live/recorded music. You'll analyse the text's significant actions and meanings, and explore the ways in which they could be realised in performance. You'll be encouraged to develop lighting and sound designs for the performance, documenting them for use by back-stage technicians, and explore effective set or costume design. Throughout the rehearsals, you'll investigate ideas of postmodern performance in practice and consider how the production of such work might differ from traditional techniques in theatre-making.

Year one, optional modules

  • Directing Skills
    On this module you'll develop the core skills involved in directing text with reference to a number of theatrical forms, and explore the approaches required for the rehearsal of different forms of text. Focusing on short extracts from relevant plays, you'll examine a range of diverse directorial methodologies appropriate to a variety of theatrical styles. These will include Naturalist, Expressionist, Absurdist, Postmodernist and contemporary texts. By examining these extracts you'll discover a range of directorial approaches and appropriate strategies you can tailor according to the demands of different rehearsal texts. You'll also learn how to plan and lead workshops and rehearsals, and manage the production process. For the practical part of the assessment, you'll direct a short text extract from a provided list, and write a critical reflection accounting for the directorial methodologies employed. You'll work in small groups with other students and perform (non-assessed) for one another, as well as directing your own extract.

Year two, core modules

  • Twentieth-Century Drama
    On this module you'll track the development of drama in the 20th century through the study of selected European, American and/or non-western plays and/or performances. You'll also explore the influence this work has had on contemporary performance practices in the 21st century. The module is largely text-based, but may also include works that encompass dance, music, physical theatre and devising. You'll focus on a range of movements and issues within 20th century drama. This may include: 1900 to 1945: discussion and analysis of the fin de siecle avant-garde ; the problematic place of drama within wider Modernism; the 'well-made' plays of the 1930s and 1940s and the explicit political engagement of the 1930s' 'learning play'. Post-war period: the emergence of an apparently apolitical 'theatre of the Absurd'; the resurgence and subsequent subversion of social realism in British drama; the larger European context of formal innovation and the impact of the abolition of theatre censorship in the UK in 1968. The later 20th century: the distinctions between practices and philosophies in 'theatre', 'drama' and 'performance'; the literary play-text vs. devising and physical theatre and the antecedents of post-modern performance. Other issues relevant to 20th century drama may be included at the discretion of the teaching staff. You'll be assessed by two 1,500 word essays, one submitted mid-semester and one at the end of the module. In these, you'll demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of selected texts and key ideas.
  • Making Performance
    This module will allow you to design, direct and perform in a large-scale public performance, created from a selected source text. As a group, you must agree effective methods of decision-making, show full commitment to rehearsals and production meetings, and demonstrate a willingness to participate in all aspects of work on the production. If you're a Performing Arts student at Cambridge, you can also be assessed as a musician or singer within the rehearsal process and performance. If you take Performing Arts at University Centre Peterborough, you may be assessed on their physical theatre work. Collaborative production modules require professional conduct from all students. Your conduct will be measured on reliable attendance, punctual arrival at rehearsals, maintaining high levels of concentration within sessions and your willingness to take direction from others. 50% of your final mark will be based on the live performance and 50% will be a portfolio mark, composed of research elements as well as your attendance and contribution to the production process. This module includes content and assessment relating to the Employability component of Personal Development Planning.
  • Performance Practitioners
    This module will introduce you to the work of key theatre practitioners. You'll examine a range of major practitioners and explore different modes and approaches to their work through both critical and practical engagement with their ideas, methodologies and creative strategies. You'll explore methodologies through a mixture of theoretical seminars and practical sessions, with the classes providing space for student-led explorations of rehearsal techniques. The practitioners covered might include, indicatively: Artaud, Brook, Meyerhold, Ninagawa, Boal, Grotowski, Mnouchkine, LeCompte and Kantor. You'll be assessed through a workshop demonstration and an oral presentation at the end of the module, in which you'll be required to explore selected practical methodologies.
  • The Body in Performance
    On this module, you'll explore the use of the body in contemporary performance and theatre practice and the ways in which it can challenge dominant political, cultural and artistic ideologies. You'll consider how the body in performance is framed and/or revealed as being subject to ideological and social forces that restrain it, and interrogate performance's potential to resist these forces. By critiquing structures of power and knowledge, you'll examine the place of the body in contemporary culture, while posing questions about the political efficacy of performance and the ethical implications of the work. This work could include live art practice, dance theatre, digital performance, activism and bio-art. Each week, you'll concentrate on a particular set of thematics examined through the work of selected artists and companies, developing theoretical and critical approaches to examining performance in relation to the body. In seminars, you'll interrogate ideas and theories through a mixture of performance texts, web material, videos, reviews, interviews and critical essays from major theorists in the field. Where possible, you'll be encouraged to attend appropriate performances, exhibitions and installations as part of the course. Your assessment will focus on your ability to articulate research findings through oral presentations, along with a final research essay at the end of the module.

Year two, optional modules

  • Performance Laboratory
    On this module you'll explore and study the working methodologies and strategies of a chosen practitioner, company or performance style in detail. This may include contemporary theatre companies or performance practitioners (for example, Forced Entertainment, Reckless Sleepers, DV8, Complicité, Laurie Anderson), or 20th and 21st century performance styles and/or genres (for example: epic theatre, physical theatre, surrealism, or choric theatre). You'll undertake a rigorous practical and intellectual exploration of the chosen company, practitioner or performance style through workshops, seminars, group discussions and independent research, approaching the work from a perception of an inseparable intertextuality of theory and practice, (i.e. an understanding of practice-as-research). You'll develop your own working strategies based on your exploration and development of the methodologies encountered in the module. Your assessment will take the form of a practical essay and a critical contextualisation. In the practical essay, you'll evidence your understanding of the interrogated working methodologies of your chosen company, practitioner or performance style in the moment of live presentation. You'll support this with a critical contextualisation of your work, with particular emphasis on the process.
  • Performance Writing
    This module will introduce you to different approaches and creative processes of writing for performance, enabling you to use a range of methods when developing written material. In workshops and exercises, you'll undertake practical explorations of the various approaches to, and the methodologies of, writing. You'll also be introduced to the work of various performance and theatre practitioners/companies who adopt different writing techniques in their creative process, to examine strategies and potentials for performance. During these sessions, you'll explore ideas such as combining autobiography and fiction; using stimuli as a starting point; writing through walking; embodied writing; and the use of personas in writing processes. You'll develop a process for creating original material and the considerations for staging this as an individual, as well as in groups. In practical sessions, you'll take part in discussions to contextualise the material and/or exercises being explored. You'll need to demonstrate self-discipline, professionalism and commitment to the classes. Your assessment will take the form of an end-of-semester solo performance, in which your skills, abilities and progress will be examined within the moment of live performance. You'll follow this by submitting a portfolio containing samples of relevant creative practice, as well as a critical evaluation of your work.
  • New Media Performance
    This module will introduce you to recent innovations in contemporary theatre and performance through a practical and theoretical consideration of new technologies and forms of information exchange available to theatre-makers at the start of the 21st century. You'll examine the technological interventions that give rise to mediatised performance as well as the new methods of its dissemination, and explore this in practice by using technologies of sound, music and video to produce a piece of mediatised performance. You'll be expected to engage with the interfaces between live performance, digital technologies, social networking sites, mass participatory sites of video performance, online arts marketing and experimental film-making. You'll be assessed through the production of a short, mediatised performance piece designed for dissemination through digital technologies (rather than a traditional theatre or television studio location). You'll also learn about the production of mediatised performances that can be used as a multi-media element within live theatre practice, studying selected multi-media practitioners as you produce, react to and question the value of such technologies in performance.
  • Performing Shakespeare
    This module will introduce you to the field of contemporary performance theory and practice in relation to Shakespeare. You'll study of a range of 20th and 21st century critical and directorial interpretations of plays by Shakespeare in the theatre and on film. You'll also explore issues that continue to be contested today, such as power, sexuality, gender, justice, morality, religion and war, as well as directorial strategies and creative responses to Shakespeare's plays that take a variety of practical approaches to acting and performance. Your exploration will focus on the ways in which critics, directors and actors generate meanings from Shakespeare's plays, drawing on the details of primary texts, secondary criticism and examples of contemporary creative responses to the plays. For your assessment, you'll select a sequence from one of Shakespeare's plays to stage as an ensemble performance, supported by practical workshops on ensemble and collaborative creation. This performance may include interdisciplinary work involving music, song and a variety of performing styles. You'll also attend seminars that will guide the development of your project proposal, and group tutorials to help you set up your group project. In preparation for the ensemble performance, you'll submit a 1,500-word analysis of how your chosen play has been interpreted in contemporary criticism, and examine a range of creative responses to it in the theatre and on film.
  • Design for Performance
    On this module, you'll examine the processes by which the designer and director/deviser work from a 'text' towards the physical manifestations of a performance: venue, sets, costumes, and props. You'll be introduced to a variety of research methods that can be used to investigate a text, as well as the history and theory of stage design in addition to basic techniques of design and production. Working with a set text, you'll undertake a series of group exercises to explore aspects of the design process. You'll be assessed by a portfolio that demonstrates your research into primary sources (text and visual), and annotations showing analysis, development and appraisal of design ideas, as well as a 1,000 word essay that will reflect critically on this work.

Year three, core modules

  • Devising Performance
    On this module, you'll explore the processes and practice of devising work for the theatre. In the first part, you'll undertake a practical exploration of the various approaches to, and the methodologies of, devising performance, through workshops and exercises. You'll also be introduced to the work of various performance and theatre practitioners/companies who utilise devising in their creative process, in order to examine strategies and potentials for performance. As a group, you'll then engage in a production process, led by a member of staff, to develop, rehearse, design, market and realise a piece of devised performance to be presented to an external audience. Prior to the final performance, you'll submit an essay that critically investigates the processes of devising, with specific reference to your artistic, historical and theoretical contexts. You'll need to demonstrate self-discipline, professionalism and commitment to the classes and additional rehearsals, and you'll be assessed at the end of the semester through the public live performance. The module will give you a creative, project-based opportunity to synthesise and develop the skills and understandings that you'll have acquired previously on the course.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Art, Music and Performance
    This module will give you an interdisciplinary perspective on performance, music and the visual arts. This might include interrogating diverse practices (such as performance art, opera, music (al) theatre, dance, site-specific performance and a wide range of hybrid forms) through both critical study and practical engagements. You'll explore various theories, devices and links between differing artistic genres, as well as experimenting with your own artistic pieces. You'll question the purpose and function of a creative work and enquire into the significance and meaning which arises out of making artistic projects for and within specific contexts. Working intensively with course tutors, you'll develop, execute and critique diverse artistic pieces. You'll also receive both scholarly and practice-based research training, and undertake a creative research project in which you'll collaborate with other students to create a live piece that explores the relationship between at least two different art forms.
  • Contemporary Texts
    On this module, you'll focus on contemporary drama, theatre and performance produced since the 1990s. You'll explore, in practice, the potential stagings of the pieces selected, debate their original reception and assess their impact on subsequent works. In the absence of substantial critical evaluation of such recent performances, you'll be expected to develop and defend your own independent and evidence-based judgements concerning the work. However, you'll also be asked to conduct internet searches to access available review notices in newspapers and/or periodicals and to research, through the MLA bibliography, any relevant recent scholarly articles or chapters, discussing the status of such research material as you encounter it on the course. You'll compare the production of authored texts and some of the techniques used by contemporary devising, dance theatre, music theatre and 'physical' theatre companies. For your assessment, you'll produce a live performance using a sequence from any work studied on the module. This scene or sequence may be edited or adapted to aid your creative interpretation of the original material. You'll also complete an oral presentation and an open question session based on your creative work in your performance, explaining your decisions as director and how this relates to the original staging and/or critical context of the piece chosen. Your should treat your oral presentation as a research assignment, giving careful consideration to its presentation in a live context.
  • Enterprise in the Creative Arts
    This independent study-style module will provide you with an element of work experience, in preparation for your future employment. You'll identify an individual area of work placement that doesn't overlap with anything chosen by other students and, before the semester begins, check the feasibility of your proposal. You'll need to be critical in your approach, to establish clear parameters for evaluation. You'll develop important transferable personal skills, and learn to evaluate the level of attainment achieved in particular contexts. Employment activities in the creative arts are often self-generated, and self-employment may feature significantly in your future work plans. The module incorporates elements relating to the development of entrepreneurial skills. Early on, you'll give an oral presentation focusing on your proposed content, and the opportunities and constraints of your chosen placement. As well as receiving tutor input at this stage, you'll benefit from the views of both your peers and employers, as well as gaining an insight into how others plan to work within comparable contexts. You'll undertake the work placement element itself either in 'sandwich' mode during the semester or in a 'block' during the Christmas vacation or January inter-semester period. The nature of the your involvement in the work placement should facilitate ongoing reflection.
  • Performance and Identity
    This module will introduce you to a variety of contemporary theatre and performance in the context of relationships between identity and performance. In particular, you'll interrogate the relationship between identity and performance and the ways in which performance might be deployed strategically in the service of specific political, ethical and cultural agendas. In the course of this enquiry, you'll consider the ways in which dramatists, companies and performers have used performance as a vehicle for expressing identity positions that are often marginalised or alienated by dominant cultural practices, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, disabled, and marginalised class/ethnic identities. Each week you'll concentrate on a particular set of thematics, examining them through the work of selected texts, artists and companies. In seminars, you'll explore relationships between performance and identity through a mixture of performance texts, web material, videos, reviews, interviews and critical essays from major theorists in the field. You'll present the initial findings of your research in seminars as an assessed presentation, producing a one-page handout for members of the seminar group as part of this assessment. This presentation will give you invaluable preparation for your final essay.
  • Special Subject (Drama)
    This module will allow you to interrogate a specialist area of contemporary research in the subject area, particularly those with ongoing research being produced by staff members in the Department. Some topics may allow you to explore in greater depth matters covered in other modules; others will introduce material not otherwise covered in the existing provision. The choice will vary from year to year. An indicative list of topics might include a selection of the following: - Stage Adaptation - Performance & Science - Operatic and Musical Theatre Production - Multimedia Performance - Samuel Beckett's Plays - Applied Theatre Practices - Reviewing New Drama The method of your assessment will vary according to the option, but may be an essay, a practical essay and/or a performance, both supported by appropriate documentation. You will only undertake one method of assessment.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Assessment

Our assessment methods mirror the combination of practice and theory you’ll encounter on the course. You’ll demonstrate your learning through essays, reports, critical reflections, presentations, studio and public performances and a Major Project, which may include practical work. 

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of Music and Performing Arts is a community of over 400 students and staff, working together in a supportive environment to create new and challenging compositions and performances. Our lecturers are research-active practitioners and recognised experts in their field, so our students always have access to the latest theories and practice, as well as invaluable career guidance.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for the future, like concerts, theatre performances, work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

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Additional study information

You’ll work in our two dedicated drama studios, complete with flexible black-box performance space as well as an additional rehearsal space, and the Mumford Theatre, a full-size venue for professional touring companies.

You’ll also have the chance to experience the production side of running a professional touring theatre company on one of our internships, such as award-winning theatre company NIE.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students (per year)

£9,000

International students, 2014/15 (per year)

£9,800

International students, 2015/16 (per year)

£10,300

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

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.

We don't 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're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

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

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online