Module code: THE3034

Module Overview

This module takes immersive theatre as its subject, with a focus on the "performing audience", broadly understood as spectators, watchers, co-creators, participants, voyeurs, fans, consumers and publics. Spectatorship will be explored as an evolving practice; it will be historicised and politicised; genealogies will be traced; and forms and modes of being an "audience" will be addressed. However, the module offers a core focus on the contemporary, exposing students to the latest immersive theatre practices and cutting-edge immersive theatre scholarship, while at the same time helping them to foster their own critical voice. We will be looking at practices of spectatorship and participation both inside of theatre buildings and outside of them (everything from vast warehouses to intimate one-on-one settings), and will survey both an emerging set of immersive theatre conventions, as well as more innovative and challenging forms that call into question the ethics and politics of what it means to be an audience today.

Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader

WAGNER Matthew (GSA)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: W440

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

Overall student workload

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module introduces students to the increasingly popular field of immersive theatre, with a particular focus on the performing audience.

As a diverse field of practices broadly focused on the direct, experiential engagement of audiences, immersive theatre offers a compelling basis for examining the stakes of spectatorship and participation. Why is it that immersive theatre has proved so popular in recent years? How is this field of practice adapting and evolving? What opportunities does it present, what challenges does it face, and what values does it promote? How do you analyse an experience that cannot be put into words? What makes the engagement of audiences in immersive theatre any different to more conventional forms of theatre? Has immersive theatre formed its own set of conventions, and what impact might these be having on its evolution? What are we to make of the supposed "freedoms" that are offered to audiences in immersive performances, and what are the ethical stakes when an audience is directly involved in realising a creative vision?

Surveying work by leading immersive theatre companies including Punchdrunk, SHUNT and dreamthinkspeak, alongside lesser-known practitioners at the outset of their careers, or who bring into play important feminist or postcolonial concerns, this module offers students the opportunity to explore a well-rounded understanding of immersive theatres that is not content with dwelling on formal concerns; rather, it opens these concerns out to address some of the most pressing ethical, political and economic issues that are affecting immersive theatre today.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Essay (3000 words) or equivalent 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to: get students thinking about their summative assessment early on in the module so that they can make informed and reasoned choices in identifying an argument and selecting an appropriate methodology; encourage students to reflect critically on argumentation and methodology; develop awareness of critical enquiry and an ability to evaluate the persuasiveness of an argument; give students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of audiences, as well as the opportunity to integrate appropriate theories where appropriate; and to give students the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to achieve learning outcomes.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of an academic essay to enable students to demonstrate all of the above, in alignment with the grade descriptors.


Formative assessment and Feedback


The formative assessment is intended to give students the opportunity to begin to engage with argumentation in a critical and reflective way that will be of benefit both for the summative assessment, as well as comparable assignments in other modules.

This assessment strategy, with a formative assignment placed mid-way through the module, is intended to provide an important stepping stone towards the summative assessment. An un-assessed thesis statement will provide an opportunity for the module tutor to provide written feedback which will take into account the strengths and weaknesses of a proposed argument, as well as an appropriate approach to the topic (methodology). Written feedback received from the formative assignment is designed to supplement informal oral feedback in response to unassessed weekly student presentations.


Module aims

  •  To develop knowledge and understanding of immersive theatres, focusing especially on "performing audiences"
  •  To develop knowledge and understanding of contemporary theories of spectatorship and participation, as well as relevant theories from a range of disciplines
  •  To investigate appropriate contexts (political, social, historical, economic) to inform understanding of spectatorship and participation in theatre and performance
  •  To develop awareness of and to apply appropriate methods for audience research
  •  To enable students to articulate ideas with accuracy and confidence in written and spoken form

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify specific theories, practices and histories of spectatorship and participation, including interdisciplinary approaches to audience research CK
002 Describe, interpret and analyse particular audience forms, while engaging with a broad range of theoretical perspectives, including interdisciplinary perspectives CK
003 Retrieve and interpret relevant information from a range of contexts to inform analyses of audience forms CPT
004 Develop imaginative and critically rigorous ideas through the construction of scholarly arguments. CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: enhance knowledge and understanding of audiences and critical approaches to audiences; develop analytical and evaluative skills in reading theoretical texts and theatrical events; foster an enhanced understanding of the relationships between audience forms and their contexts; enable students to be aware of and draw on a broad range of methodologies and understandings of audiences in creating their own rigorous and informed arguments; encourage interdisciplinarity; develop confidence in articulating ideas in both written and spoken form; and to promote a collegiate and supportive learning environment as a means of fostering disciplined and scholarly debate.

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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: THE3034

Other information

Under the three term structure that commences from academic year 2019/0 – this module’s delivery falls in Semester 1 due to the teaching occurring in Teaching Block 1.

Additional Costs


Students are expected to attend at least one immersive theatre performance over the course of the Semester, or to arrange access to relevant documentation if possible / available. This will give students the chance to write about a performance they have experienced in full.   


Ticket / transport


Ticket costs for immersive theatre performances are extremely variable, ranging from £5 to £50 (and sometimes much more). Students will not be expected to pay more than £25 for a ticket at most, probably less, and every effort will be made to secure discounts or subsidies where possible. Students will not be required to attend and pay for more than one performance, in addition to transport (most likely to London).

Included in fees?


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Film Studies BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Optional 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 2019/0 academic year.