Undergraduate prospectus

Course Information

Contemporary British Theatre

Module summary

Module code: DRAM1037
Level: 6
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences
Module Coordinator(s): Henry Derbyshire


Pre and co requisites



• To introduce students to a range of contemporary British playwrights and theatre forms.
• To enable students to engage with contemporary social issues through an examination of the way that they are represented in modern British drama.
• To develop students’ understanding of the contemporary British theatre as a cultural industry and social phenomenon.
• To develop students’ analytical skills with specific reference to theatrical texts.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Demonstrate knowledge of significant trends in post-war British theatre, and in particular theatre in the last twenty years.
2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the ways in which modern and contemporary dramatists have represented the society in which we live.
3 Show an understanding of the different theatrical effects that can be obtained through the utilisation of different theatrical forms.
4 Articulate an understanding of the context in which plays are produced and received in contemporary Britain.
5 Demonstrate an enhanced ability to analyse theatrical text both in written form and in performance.

Indicative content

This course concentrates on developments in British theatre in the period since 1956, with a specific focus on the way in which dramatists have responded to contemporary social issues. Some important and influential plays of the post-war period will be considered, such as John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and Edward Bond’s Saved, and attention will be paid to current theatrical practice beyond the confines of conventional playwriting. The course’s main emphasis, however, is on work since 1990 which reflects contemporary concerns, looking at plays such as Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing (1993), Sarah Kane’s Blasted (1995), Roy Williams’s Fallout (2003), debbie tucker green’s truth and reconciliation (2011) and Laura Wade’s Posh (2010/2012). Theatre visits will take place as an integral part of the course, allowing students to engage with the very latest developments in new writing and theatrical practice.

Teaching and learning activity

Students will be provided with introductory material designed to place each given text in its appropriate social, historical, cultural and (where appropriate) theoretical context. Dramatic scenes will be read and considered in class, with emphasis on both their linguistic features and their potential effect in performance. Focused discussion within class will encourage students to debate the issues raised by the plays, and to consider how well-suited the theatrical form is to the exploration of these issues. At least four theatre trips will be arranged of which students should attend a minimum of two; the performances seen will be discussed in class in preparation for the composition of each student’s Performance Analysis Portfolio.


Essay - 20% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning outcomes 1 - 4.
An engagement with theatrical text and related historical, social, cultural or theoretical context. 2000 words.

Performance Analysis Portfolio - 40% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning outcomes 2 - 4.
A portfolio of analytical responses to two of the productions seen over the course of the year.

Extended Essay or Research Project - 40% weighting, 40% pass mark. 3000 words.
Learning outcomes 1 - 4.
A sustained engagement with theatrical text and related historical, social, cultural or theoretical context
an analytical account of the work of a contemporary theatre or theatre group based on individual research.

Students are not required to pass all elements of assessment in order to pass the course.