Theatre is a radical and influential art form. Its roots lie deep in the ancient world but its relevance to contemporary life is urgent and ongoing. Theatre enables different cultures and societies to confront the most important issues of our time; it provides a crucial space to laugh, to dream, and dare to project different worlds.
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 be performing and producing work in the professional context of our state-of-the-art Lakeside Theatre, and will be developing a wide range of creative, critical and practical skills that will open the door to a future in the theatre, cultural industries or a wide range of other graduate careers.
At Essex, we offer a rich combination of practical workshops, critical seminars and lectures, and employability opportunities delivered by an experienced team of playwrights, directors, and actors, as well as leading academic theatre specialists.
Areas of exploration in our modules include, but are not limited to:
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
Through classroom teaching, practical experiment and professional experience, we help you craft the skillset that will be essential in your creative development. This approach reflects our core belief that engaging with both practice and theory produces a deeper understanding of how theatre works.
Our commitment to the student experience is why we are ranked third for drama in the Guardian University Guide 2021 and top 20 for dance, drama and cinematics (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021). Top 20 for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2021. Other courses within the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, including Literature, Creative Writing, Filmmaking and Journalism, are available as options to all our students.
Why we're great.
We're Top 20 for overall student satisfaction for Drama in the National Student Survey 2021.
As practitioners and industry insiders, we are committed to identifying employment opportunities for our students, and supporting the theatre-makers of the future.
Our lecturers are all active practitioners: our teaching and research is enhanced and informed by our professional work around the world.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university
Maximise the impact of your degree, build your CV and gain invaluable real-world experience. When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year.
Undertaking a placement can allow you to gain relevant work experience within an external organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the cultural industries.
You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and the placements team.
If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
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.
Our high ranking in the Guardian University Guide is made possible because we are a community of award-winning playwrights, directors, performers and practitioners, as well as pre-eminent critics and theoreticians. Alongside specialist guest tutors in acting, directing and stage-management, our core teaching staff includes:
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.
Dr 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.
Liam Jarvis is Co-Director of Analogue and a playwright and theatre practitioner. He also writes and publishes widely on contemporary theatre theory and practice, with a specialism in immersive, interactive and digital theatre.
Annecy Lax is a specialist in Applied Theatre and human rights in performance, with over a decade of experience in testimonial and verbatim theatre. She has worked in numerous community and educational settings as a facilitator and playwright, and has had work produced by the National Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Bush Theatre.
Mary Mazzilli is a renowned specialist in World Theatre and is also a practicing playwright and Creative Director of Lumenis Theatre company. As well as touring her work internationally, Mary has published on Chinese Theatre, dramaturgy, translation and digital 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.
The Lakeside Theatre is a purpose-built 200-seat venue in the heart of the University campus. We stage productions by leading 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.
The Lakeside Theatre also makes a connection to the cultural hubs of our country as a host of the prestigious National Theatre Live and Royal Shakespeare Company Live screenings.
We programme practical workshops by artists to help you develop new performance skills.
Our weekly research seminars provide further opportunities for students to hear writers and practitioners discuss their craft.
The Research Laboratory creates unique opportunities for our students to contribute to the testing of new ideas over the course of a full rehearsal process. Students collaborate with professional writers, actors, directors, musicians, and choreographers. As part of a creative team, new research questions are explored in practice, with opportunities to share work-in-progress with audiences.
As well as our high-spec theatre spaces, our campus is home to a wealth of non-theatre venues, including The Hex and ArtExchange, that we use to innovate new site-based work.
Our students have access to the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite.
There are also opportunities to write for our student magazine Rebel or host a Red Radio show.
Students can view classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre.
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
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.
UK entry requirements
A-levels: ABB, including one essay based subject
BTEC: DDD, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655. Either must include a Higher Level essay based subject grade 5
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 15 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied -advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
This is the foundational module for your BA Drama Degree. We enrich your existing knowledge of major theatre practitioners – Aristotle, Brecht, Artaud and Stanislavski – and complement these studies by introducing new theatre theorists, movements and styles. Examine plays from Ancient Greece to today, discussing issues like genre, representation, reception, modernism and postmodernism. This module blends together practical and theoretical classes to create the building blocks for an informed study of theatre practice.
This module looks at how theatrical ideas developed and made into reality. The module guides you carefully through the technical expertise required, and allows you to explore lighting, sound and stage management in professionally-led workshops. Through a series of workshops, seminars and field trips, including theatre and gallery visits, students will be introduced to the variety of stimuli and strategies that theatre makers use to create a production. The content of this half-module is closely linked to the programme of the Lakeside Theatre, students will see professional performances, be introduced to visiting professional theatre makers and will experiment with a range of practical processes that they use. Students will be introduced to a variety of rehearsal processes and techniques commonly used by contemporary theatre and performance makers.
This module introduces you to the rehearsal processes involved in both bringing a dramatic text to life (Text into Action) and drawing on practitioner’s methodologies to devise different kinds of performance forms, from physical theatre to interactive performance (Action into Text). The module will form the foundations for understanding how plays work three-dimensionally (the journey from page to stage) and expand the boundaries of what resources theatre-makers might draw upon as a trigger to innovate inspiring live performance events.
Theatre is a collaborative art form. A company of theatre practitioners gathers to make a production, comprising of a producer, director, designers, composers, production manager, performers, technicians, musicians, stage management, promoters, choreographers, scenic artists, set builders etc. according to the needs of the production and the confines of the budget. Each person plays a key role and makes an individual creative contribution to the whole.
In this module, you will develop work related to Technical Theatre Arts. Through hands-on practical workshops, exercises, reflection and seminars this module introduces you to the basic principles of technical theatre, which will be crucial knowledge for use throughout your degree. You work through the basic concepts of lighting, sound, video, stage & production management, along with understanding health & safety in the theatre space.
The conclusion of the module is an assessment that will see you working collaboratively with the goal of staging the technical aspects of a given performance piece on the main stage of Lakeside Theatre.
This interdisciplinary module serves several functions. Firstly, you will develop an understanding of your degree in the context of the wider world and specifically the graduate jobs market. You will come to understand the employability and career-development opportunities that are available to you during and after your time at Essex, and you will begin the life-long process of continuous professional development with a firm grounding in the practical skills and reflective practice involved.
The module is divided into two parts: career-development learning; and Speaker Weeks, when a member of staff will interview guest speakers about their careers in fields that are allied to the arts and humanities. These will cover a range of career areas that may be of interest to humanities graduates in general: from media, arts, journalism, education, publishing, to entrepreneurship in related areas. These weeks are intended to be inspiring but also full of practical tips and ideas, with an emphasis on showing how careers develop over time, and what pathways students can explore to get to where they want to be; as well as what kinds of extra-curricular activities students can engage in now to open more doors professionally before and after graduation.
In the career-development learning part of the module, you will cover topics such as the Graduate Labour market, the Humanities graduate, self-reflection and personal development, and how to research and apply effectively for jobs. Skills such as CV writing and interview technique will be covered. Two-hour interactive lecture/seminars will introduce students to careers resources and ideas, but will also include discussion and group work.
What are the links and connections between texts? Do these exist even if the plays seem diverse? Explore a range of texts from the medieval period to the 1980s, analysing genre, dramatic form, language, narrative and dramatic debate. Through practical sessions, consider approaches like staging, verse-speaking, montage and character development.
Pursue your own interests and passions by designing and carrying out your own theatre research project. Whether it’s a new approach to directing a classic play, writing a script, running workshops, or exploring an area like puppetry or theatre in education, the Independent Practical Project gives you the chance to implement your own programme of creative research, under specialist supervision from an academic staff member.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
Teaching will take the form of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and skills-based training sessions
We offer a unique combination of theoretical and creative approaches
Class sizes are up to 20 students and taught in specially designated teaching rooms
A typical timetable is a mixture of one hour lectures and three-hour seminars and/or practical workshops
The assessment for each module is designed to carefully complement the content and teaching on that module
Assessment might be academic essays, practical assessments, review and reflective writing, research presentations and examinations
A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
Interview and tests
If you’re resident in the UK and apply before the UCAS deadline in January, you might be shortlisted for a workshop based on your application. During this workshop you’ll work in groups, responding to a stimulus to create a piece of theatre. It’s an ideal opportunity to experience how our courses are taught and also great fun. Offers for this course will only be made after attendance at a workshop. This will form part of your visit day where you’ll be able to explore the campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex.
If you live outside the UK, we won’t invite you to a workshop, but you can still arrange a trip to see us. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you arrange a suitable time for you to come and visit.
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.