finclude template="_xhtml-a.cfm"> Module catalogue

module specification

SJ4013 - Theatre and Performance: History and Craft (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Theatre and Performance: History and Craft
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 20%   Group presentation 10 mins + 5 minutes discussion
Coursework 30%   Critical portfolio 1500 words OR short script of 10-15 minutes + 500 word commentary.
Coursework 50%   Critical portfolio 2500 words OR 20 minutes script + 1000 word reflective commentary.
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

Theatre and Performance: History and Craft provides an opportunity to study the development of the genre via a number of canonical texts and transformative moments in the history of the form. Students study the formal characteristics of representative playtexts and the political, social and cultural concerns of the societies in which they were first performed. This is combined with a study of developing theatrical practice and performance, where students examine how writing and performance intersect, inform, and inspire each other. According to pathway, students will specialise, either in the critical and theoretical analysis of dramatic genres, or in creative writing and the production of playscripts. The module is taught in weekly three-hour sessions comprising a lecture and English Literature seminar or Creative Writing workshop, and is assessed by essay, presentation, script and/or reflective writing.

This module aims to examine a range of playtexts and theatrical forms within critical and historical contexts, to familiarise students with the vocabulary and awareness necessary to discuss texts and the creative process, and to encourage students to explore differences between texts as literature and texts for performance. Additionally, Creative Writing students will develop their scriptwriting skills.

Prior learning requirements



In the first half of the module students discuss a range of dramatic texts which best exemplify key developments in drama from the Classical period to the Renaissance and the modern period, including movements such as naturalism, expressionism, absurdism and epic theatre (LO2). The second half of the module examines developments in contemporary theatre with an emphasis on London’s theatre history and culture (LO2).  Students also examine larger paradigm shifts such as realism, modernism, postmodernism, transnationalism and internationalism (LO2). We will examine the interrelations between playtext, playscript and theatre (LO1). Students will be introduced to theories of performance, audience reception and intercultural theatre (LO2), and Creative Writing 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 (LO3). English Literature students will develop a critical understanding of the art, craft and practice of narrative drama both theoretically and in creative practice (LO2/LO3). All students will be able to workshop ideas in conjunction with students from the Theatre and Performance Practice degree (LO3), 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 (LO4).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of Theatre and Performance: History and Craft, students will be able to:

Cognitive intellectual abilities
LO1 evaluate the generic qualities of dramatic texts for a performance context;

Knowledge and understanding
LO2 demonstrate understanding of the history and development of theatre performance and performance texts across a number of periods, locations, genres and styles;

Subject-specific skills
LO3 criticise, write and/or produce performance texts and evaluate them in terms of context, theme, genre, audience and dramatic effect;

Transferable skills
LO4 adapt work in response to criticism of technique and understanding raised in seminar, workshop and feedback on written work.

Assessment strategy

Regular weekly discussion in seminar and workshop (LO4) helps prepare students for their assessments by reviewing, explaining and critically examining playtexts and performances, scripts in development and theories of performance and drama. English Literature students work towards two portfolio submissions (LO1/LO2/LO3) over the course of the year, which include critical essays, theatre reviews, critical discussion of the theory of drama and performance, and notes and observations about the location, function and significance of drama, historically and in the present day. Creative Writing students work towards the production of two playscripts (LO1/LO2/LO3), which are workshopped regularly throughout the year (LO4). In addition, students give a group presentation (LO1/LO2/LO3) which articulates their initial understanding of the practice, analysis and development of theatrical forms.


Elam, K., (2002), The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama, Routledge
Fischer-Lichte, E., (2002), History of European Drama and Theatre, Routledge
Pickering, K., (2005), Key Concepts in Drama and Performance, Palgrave MacMillan
Sanger, K., (2001) The Language of Drama, Routledge
Styan, J. L., (1981), Modern Drama in Theory and Practice, vols. 1, 2 and 3, Cambridge University Press 

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

Brockett, O. G., (ed.), (1996) Plays for the Theatre: a drama anthology, Harcourt
Gale, M. B., and Deeney, J.F., (eds), (2010), The Routledge Drama Anthology and Sourcebook: from modernism to contemporary performance, Routledge

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