English Literature MA

Early English Drama ENGLANG4057

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In this course we examine and analyse critically a selection of dramatic texts that reflect the variety of drama in English before the period of the custom-built playhouse (1200-1570, focusing chiefly on the period 1400-1535). Texts selected for close study in the original language include both religious and secular plays, written for elite and popular culture, and for a variety of performance circumstances. These will be studied in their own right but also for the way in which they reveal native roots that inform the study of the Early Modern stage and relate to broader questions of context, heritage and audience.


10 x 2 hr sessions (comprising 1 x 1hr lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar) as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Literature and English Language and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





2 essays (2500 words each) - 40% each

Textual commentary exercise (1200 words) - 20% 

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ gain an understanding of the variety of English drama before the mid-sixteenth-century;

■ evaluate critically the surviving sources of evidence for early English drama;

■ examine in close detail a range of early English play texts, religious and secular;

■ reflect on what may be understood of early English drama in is broader material and ideological European and Latin contexts and as a precursor to the plays of the Early Modern stage;

■ gain an understanding of theoretical approaches to early dramatic texts, in particular to the discussion of audience reception.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ describe the range and variety of early English drama from a variety of sources of evidence;

■ explain the nature of a selection of surviving early English playtexts and their relationship to actual performance;

■ critically analyse in detail a selection of early English plays in relation to possible performance contexts;

■ identify and discuss the ideological, geographical, and chronological contexts of early English drama;

■ evaluate methodological issues in the discussion of audience reception in relation to early English plays.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.