module specification

SJ4002 - Theory and Practice of Drama (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Theory and Practice of Drama
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
192 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   001 - Written essay of 1500 words OR short script of 10-15 mins + 500 word commentary.
Oral Examination 20%   002 - Oral Presentation
Coursework 50%   003 - Reflective writing of approximately 2500 words OR 20 mins script + 1000 word reflective commentary.
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

The module Theory and Practice of Drama provides an opportunity to study across text, performance and creative writing.  Students will study the formal characteristics of representative playtexts and the political, social and philosophical concerns of the societies in which they have developed.  This will be combined with a study of theatrical practice and performance where students will examine how writing and performance intersect, inform, and inspire each other.  Students will further have the choice of pursuing specialist skills, either in the critical and theoretical analysis of dramatic genres, or in creative writing and the production of playscripts. The module is generally taught in weekly three-hour sessions comprising a lecture and English Literature seminar or Creative Writing workshop, and is assessed by essay, presentation, and reflective or creative writing.


Module aims

This module aims to
● examine a range of playtexts and theatrical forms within theoretical and historical contexts.
● familiarise students with the vocabulary and critical awareness necessary to discuss texts and the creative process;
● encourage students to explore, challenge and overcome divisions between texts, theory and practice.
● develop scriptwriting skills (CW/EL students)




In this module students will look at a range of dramatic texts which best exemplify key developments in European drama from Ancient Greece to literary movements such as naturalism, expressionism, surrealism, absurdism, symbolism and epic theatre.  These will also be considered with the larger paradigm shifts such as realism, modernism, postmodernism, transnationalism and internationalism.  We will examine the interrelations between playtext, playscript and theatre and students will be introduced to theories of performance, audience reception and intercultural theatre.  Students will have the opportunity to specialise in workshops focussing on the function of scripts, the adaptation of playtexts and the creation of original scripts.  Students will develop a critical understanding of the art, craft and practice of narrative drama both theoretically and in creative practice and the transferable skills developed will enable students to meet the challenges of employment in a society in which the creative industries play a central role.


Learning and teaching

This module will be taught by a programme of weekly sessions during the academic year.  Generally the sessions will comprise a lecture and seminar supplemented by tutorials. After an initial fifteen weeks the seminar groups will allow students to specialise in either creative writing or literary criticism.  In all cases seminars will include time for small group work, individual writing and comprehension tasks (all intended to develop portable and valuable employability skills), support from the tutor and reinforcement of weekly lecture themes. The lectures will remain pertinent to both disciplines throughout. Teaching will be enhanced by guest speakers, playwrights and performers when appropriate and will also include field trips to London-based venues such as the Victoria and Albert galleries for theatre and performance, and on-going performance-based exhibits, where students can complete writing and research projects pertinent to future employability. Independent learning will be encouraged and include guided reading, weekly writing tasks and use of tutor-moderated online forum. Students will be able to pursue specialist interests in either creative writing or literary criticism and outside the class through guided online research and visits to theatre productions where possible.  Tutors will make full use of weblearn and students will be directed to other websites and blogs of relevance and will be invited to research their own.


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to

● distinguish the relationship between text, context, script and performance;
● evaluate theoretical approaches to drama, theatre and creative writing;
● practice competency in group-work and in the written and oral presentation of ideas
        which will form the three parts of the students summative assessment;
● express a reflective voice which explores the possibilities and challenges of reading and writing.
● write theatre script (CW/EL students)

Assessment strategy

● Formative assessment tasks will be set periodically over the course of the module to address the different sections of the syllabus and enable students to prepare items for their portfolio (summative assessment). 
● Summative assessments comprise oral and written presentation, and practice and analysis of theatrical forms; essays demonstrating knowledge of text and stagecraft, and reflective writing on the development of contemporary theatre.


Elam, Keir,  The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama, Routledge, 2002.

Fischer-Lichte, Erika, History of European Drama and Theatre, Routledge 2002

Pickering, Kenneth, Key Concepts in Drama and Performance, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.

Sanger, Keith, The Language of Drama, Routledge, 2001.

Styan, J. L. Modern Drama in Theory and Practice  Vol. 1  Realism and Naturalism; Vol 2, Symbolism,

Surrealism and the Asburd; Vol 3 Expressionsism and Epic Theatre.    CUP 1981

Ayckbourn Alan, The Crafty Art of Playmaking, Faber and Faber, 2004
Brecht Bertoldt, Brecht on Theatre (trans: J.Willett), Methuen, 1978
Edgar, David, How Plays Work: A Practical Guide to Playwriting, Nick Hern Books, 2009.
Gooch, Steve Writing a Play, A & C Black, 2001.
Taylor, Val, Stagewriting: A Practical Guide Marlborough 2002.


Brockett, Oscar, G. Ed   Plays for the theatre: a drama anthology  Ft Worth, Harcourt 1996

Gale, Maggie, B., John F. Deeney, eds. The Routledge Drama Anthology and Sourcebook: from modernism to contemporary performance, Routledge 2010

Online resources:    (a useful site from the University of Oxford which directs students to sites on theatre and drama around the world) site which charts the history of theatre from ancient times to the present day, including Ancient Greece, Asia, North America, Russia).