Module code: ELI1020

Module Overview


The module serves as an introduction both to the close study of several of Shakespeare’s most important plays and to the complex field of Shakespeare studies in general. The objective is to facilitate a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s drama by reading a range of his plays from a variety of different critical perspectives. The module is broadly chronological touching on works written in all four phases of Shakespeare career: the comedies, the histories, the tragedies and the late ‘romances’. A key objective of this module is to gain an understanding of the wide variety of different ways that Shakespeare’s plays have been interpreted since the turn of the twentieth century and an increased awareness of the main critical trends and questions that have long preoccupied Shakespeare scholars. Another objective is to provide an overview of Shakespeare’s historical and political contexts. In doing so, students will be encouraged to think about a core question: are Shakespeare’s plays best understood as products of their time and place or as works that transcend historical specificity and that are still relevant to us now? A final objective of the module is to gain an appreciation of Shakespeare’s dramatic practice through close readings of the plays themselves. Students will also be encouraged to view the plays in performance either by visiting current theatre productions or by watching film versions – the way that specific performances interpret and appropriate Shakespeare’s plays will be a secondary concern. By the end of the module, students should have developed a good working knowledge of both Shakespeare’s drama and Shakespeare criticism. They will be expected to write intelligently, confidently and creatively about the plays.


Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

WYNNE-DAVIES Marion (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 60

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Week 1: Introduction to the module and historical overview of Shakespeare&rsquos England in the context of early modern Europe.

Week 2: The comedies: A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Week 3: The comedies: As You Like It.

Week 4: The comedies: Twelfth Night

Week 5: The history plays: Richard II.

Week 6: Employability Week.

Week 7: The history plays: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2.

Week 8: The history plays: Henry IV Parts 1 and 2.

Week 9: The tragedies: Hamlet.

Week 10: The tragedies: Othello.

Week 11: The tragedies:  Macbeth.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (1500 WORDS) 70

Alternative Assessment

  • N/A
Class Discussion (formative). Formative ‘feed forward’ will be provided by seminar tutors as responses to class discussions and to any unassessed presentations/ class tasks undertaken.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achieve-ment of the module learning outcomes.

Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed mainly to assess transferable skills in communicating ideas orally and in working individually and as part of a group. It also assesses subject knowledge in Shakespeare studies. Seminars also assess cognitive/ analytical skills in critical thinking and in analysis of literary form.

Both the essay and the critical field survey research exercise assess subject knowledge in Shakespeare studies. They also assess research skills, cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in analysis of literary form, and transferable skills in communicating ideas in writing. The essay and the critical field survey research exercise further assess professional/practical skills, namely the ability to plan and implement timetables for essay deadlines.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         1500-word essay

·         500-word critical field survey research exercise


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussions and tutor feedback in seminars. The deadline for the critical field survey exercise is week 7; students receive both written and verbal feedback on this first summative assessment, which informs the final summative assessment, i.e. the essay.

Module aims

  • reading closely for nuance and appreciating how language and form impact the production of meaning
  • engaging critically with both primary and secondary texts to develop informed opinions and make incisive interpretations
  • writing carefully and clearly to present persuasive critical arguments that demonstrate both close reading and critical engagement
  • the ability to research purposefully, quote cogently and engage with critical arguments
  • the ability to keep multiple contexts in mind when discussing the text and understanding how these contexts affect the production of meaning.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Demonstrate an understanding of the historical, cultural and political contexts of the plays discussed K
2 Show evidence of wider reading and a knowledge of Shakespeare scholarship K
3 Articulate ideas that identify, analyse and communicate principles and concepts of the plays discussed, while considering competing points of view CT
4 Undertake research to demonstrate detailed knowledge of theories and concepts in Shakespeare studies as applied to the plays discussed. KCPT

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 deliver subject knowledge, to develop cognitive/ analytical skills, and to develop in-depth transferable, practical, and professional skills. Specifically, the weekly lectures deliver subject knowledge relating to Shakespeare’s plays, approaches to them, and their historical contexts. The weekly seminars involve student-led discussions that develop skills in communication and in working individually and as part of a group. The seminars also provide students with instruction on planning and implementing timetables for work and on presenting ideas coherently under time constraints.

This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at FHEQ Level 4, is designed to introduce students to subject knowledge through the lectures. Further subject knowledge (e.g. web-links, critical reading, podcasts) is made available through SurreyLearn, which enables students to develop IT skills in accessing and utilising resources. Seminars, in which students are expected to have done core reading and to discuss this in class, serve to ground this subject knowledge further and to give students a reasonable level of attainment in the programme’s cognitive, practical and transferable skills. Discussions in seminars and workshops aim to give students further practical and transferable skills in working with others and in using rhetorical skills for argument. These are backed up by the formative assessment of class discussion, and summative assessment.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 1-hour lecture per week x 11 weeks

  • 1-hour seminar per week x 11 weeks

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: ELI1020

Other information

This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the International Engagement Office email:

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature BA (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 2 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 2020/1 academic year.