Studying theatre and drama at Essex enables you to examine some of the most influential play-texts ever written, and to be ready to take part in shaping the essential performances of tomorrow. This degree is a chance to unlock and explore your creativity. You will develop as a scriptwriter too, by learning with professional and award-winning dramatists. You will produce a varied portfolio of dramatic works, culminating in a full-length original play, which will enable you to hone and develop your own unique voice.
On our four-year MLitSt Drama and Scriptwriting, you will be part of an interdisciplinary department where literary critics work alongside practising poets, dramatist, film-makers, novelists and journalists.
You have the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional modules across different topics and areas of specialism, including;
- Dramatic literature from Ancient Greek tragedy and Shakespeare, to modern plays from around the world
- Contemporary playwriting and devising techniques
- Staging political ideas, human rights and social justice issues
- Gender, identity, orientation and sexual politics on stage
- Creating Applied Theatre in educational and community contexts
- Emergent trends in interactive performance-making and audience participation
In your fourth year, as a post-graduate student, you will be able to choose from the following masters level modules in drama and scriptwriting;
- The principles of dramatic structure and scene construction
- Techniques for working as a playwright with youth and community groups
- The origins and possibilities of poetic theatre and verse drama
- Options for poetic practice or novel-writing
- Radio drama
We are ranked third in the UK for drama in the Guardian University Guide 2021 and top 20 for drama and film studies in the UK (Dance, drama and cinematics, Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021).
Our expert staff
Become part of the theatre industry by studying with people in the theatre industry. All staff in the Centre for Theatre Studies are professional theatre-makers as well as leading academics in our individual fields. We share a passion for creative and engaging teaching, bringing you ideas and practices informed by our global research interests.
- Professor Jonathan Lichtenstein is a playwright who has written for Radio 4 and the National Theatre. His awards include a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival and his plays have been performed internationally. He is a recognised expert in teaching playwriting and dramatic form.
- Professor Elizabeth Kuti is also a playwright, and is currently Writer-in-Residence for Hampton Court. She has won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Stewart Parker Radio Award; and has been commissioned by the National Theatre; the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; and writes regularly for BBC radio. She also researches in the field of eighteenth-century theatre.
We also regularly invite visiting professionals to take master classes with our students, allowing you to enter into dialogue with the leading figures in theatre. Past visitors include: Gecko Theatre, Frantic Assembly, Uninvited Guests, Clod Ensemble, Freedom Theatre, Tim Crouch, Anna Birch, David Eldridge, Jessica Swale, Melanie Wilson, Robert Holman, Clare Bayley, Lisa Goldman, David Thacker, Annie Castledine, Bobby Baker, Mike Attenborough.
- Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre is a major venue for drama, staging productions by professional touring companies and new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
- Additionally, the Lakeside Studio is an intimate fully equipped black box theatre. Each year, we invite proposals from current and former Essex students to make work for this space as part of our Homegrown Shows programme.
- Our Student Company runs weekly practical workshops, enabling drama enthusiasts to get involved in both front-of-house and behind the scenes
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work as it develops
- Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Write for our student magazine REBEL or host a REBEL Radio show
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
Be an actor, a writer, a director, a stage-manager, a producer – or something even more exciting! A drama degree opens many doors. Creativity, communication and versatility are highly valued skills in our rapidly changing world.
Our students have gone on to become actors, directors and playwrights, as well as producers, live artists, dramaturgs, stage-managers, and arts managers. Essex students have built rewarding careers as youth workers, community practitioners, drama therapists, and as teachers and academics.
The skillsets developed at Essex have also seen our students find success in a range of related creative industries including journalism, television production, broadcasting, radio presenting, gaming, magazine editing, copywriting, press relations and marketing, as well as in business, commerce and law.
Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of creative roles including:
- Writer in Residence for the National Theatre
- Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre, London
- Artistic Director of a successful touring company
- Director for the Almedia Theatre, London
- Manager at a renowned regional theatre
- Live-Artist for Art Angel
- BBC Journalist
- Youth Theatre Leader & Workshop Facilitator
- Outreach and Education Officer
- Front of House Theatre Manager
- Secondary School Teacher
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Produce a full-length original play which will be given a public performance in our 200-seat Lakeside Theatre in the heart of campus
- Join our Student Company and get involved in both front-of-house and behind the scenes
- Attend playwriting master classes led by professional playwrights and theatre practitioners
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.