Renaissance Drama: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Module code: EN1050
Module co-ordinator: Professor Sarah Knight

In this module, you'll develop your knowledge of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, analysing them within their social and political contexts, taking account of early modern staging methods, theatrical conditions, and composition and printing practices. You will become familiar with different dramatic genres and consider questions of class, gender, race, and education. You will also learn more about how early modern drama developed between the late 1580s and the 1620s.

Topics covered

You will read at least seven plays for this module. Four of these will be selected by your tutor from the following pairs of set texts:

  • Marlowe, The Jew of Malta
    Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
  • Marlowe, Edward II
    Shakespeare, Richard III
  • Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
    Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
    Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

The other texts will include at least two more plays by Shakespeare and at least one more play by a contemporary author.


  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 3 hours of practicals/workshops
  • 177 hours of guided independent study


The assessment for this module consists of:

  • Review of a theatrical production or film version of a Renaissance play, 1,500 words (30%)
  • Exam, 2 ½ hours (70%)