CRITICAL THINKING IN PERFORMANCE - 2018/9

Module code: THE2022

Module Overview

This module focuses on introducing, exploring and applying 20th and 21st-century theory to analyses of contemporary theatre and performance. It pays special attention to recurrent issues and methodologies in theatre and performance studies, bringing together two closely related components: critical thinking and performance analysis. The module traverses a broad range of theorists and theoretical methodologies as means of understanding theatre and performance from contrasting, opposing, or compatible perspectives.

Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader

CULL LK Dr (GSA)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: W440

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

The module will introduce a broad range of theoretical perspectives, providing students with a ‘tool box’ of critical frameworks for effective and rigorous theatre and performance analysis. Each class will focus broadly on one theorist at a time, or a small group of related theorists or school of thought, in relation to a case study, or set of case studies. Students will be encouraged to draw on their own experiences of attending theatre or experiencing performance and to use these as materials for discussion in seminars, presentations and in assessment. Students will also be expected to attend theatre and/or performance events over the course of the Semester, with a requirement that they attend at least one.

Indicative theorists or theoretical perspectives that the module may touch on will respond to the research strengths of the module tutor and may include, but are not limited to:


semiotics (Saussure, Peirce, Barthes, Pavis, Fischer-Lichte);
phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, States, Garner);
psychoanalysis (Freud, Lacan, Žižek, Phelan);
feminism and gender studies (Wollstonecraft, de Beauvoir, Butler, Cixous, Irigaray, Spivak, Aston);
postcolonial and critical race theory (Saïd, Bhabha, Fanon, Spivak);
Marxist perspectives and Continental philosophies of difference (Badiou, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Rancière, Williams).


The work of such theorists will be explored through seminar discussion, lectures and student presentations, with particular reference to a broad range of case studies drawn from theatre and performance practice – with both ‘theatre’ and ‘performance’ being understood in the broadest possible terms. Students will learn how to apply key concepts from ‘theory’ and philosophy in order to analyse examples of performance. However, they will also be encouraged to explore the relationship between theory and practice beyond application.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 1X ESSAY (2500 WORDS) 100

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical ideas, informed by an appropriate level of scholarship; engage theoretical and philosophical perspectives in performance analysis as a means of interrogating and understanding theatre and performance; achieve a decent level of argumentation and rigour; identify developments in theory and to demonstrate effective analysis of those developments; articulate fairly complex thought processes clearly and concisely.

The summative assignment for this module consists of an academic essay to enable students to demonstrate all of the above. The placing of this 100% assessment at the end of the module allows the students to engage with the majority of the module before selecting the focus for their own piece of individual research. Further support for the final assessment will either be provided through group essay workshops, one-to-one or small group tutorials, or feedback on draft essay plan - depending on the module tutor.

Formative assessment and feedback

In-class group presentations, focussed on a response to the set readings followed by student-led discussion, are geared towards preparing students for the summative Assignment 1. The presentations will provide an opportunity for the module tutor to provide oral feedback which will take into account: knowledge and understanding of theory; appropriate engagement of theory in performance analysis; clarity of argument and critical perspective. Students will be required to provide a bibliography to accompany their presentation in order to allow the tutor to provide feedback on appropriate sources and satisfactory referencing. 

Module aims

  • To provide core knowledge of key theorists and theoretical methodologies
  • To explore effective uses of theory in theatre and performance analysis
  • To enable students to use informed and relevant critical vocabularies and research methods
  • To nurture understanding of diverse, competing and compatible critical perspectives

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify and apply theoretical and methodological positions, trends and innovations in critical thinking KC
002 Engage creatively and critically with a range of theoretical perspectives, potentially including interdisciplinary perspectives KC
003 Retrieve, sift and synthesise information from a range of sources KCT
004 Develop and evaluate ideas and arguments through writing, presentation and informed, disciplined debate KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: enhance knowledge and understanding of core theoretical perspectives; foster critical thinking and analytical skills (particularly with regards to theatre and performance analysis), as well as evaluative skills; enhance confidence and the ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively; promote supportive spaces for deliberation, contestation and debate; and enhance cognitive skill in the application of theory as an analytical tool.

Indicative learning and teaching methods include: lecture/seminars, workshops, field trips, peer-to-peer learning, debates and independent research and reflection.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for CRITICAL THINKING IN PERFORMANCE : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/the2022

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance with Film Studies BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Dance with Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Media Studies with Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.