Students Staff

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Drama and Theatre Studies

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Study with us

Your voice in the world

Drama at Essex qualifies you to make the theatre that will change the world. After all, it’s going to be your world. The stories you choose to tell will shape the world you inhabit. Drama is an incredibly powerful tool. It illuminates new ideas. It renews the way we see old themes. It tackles the urgent questions of our time. At Essex we ask you to make your own theatre, that is radical and daring and to take it into the world.

Led by practitioners

At Essex we’re all professional theatre practitioners. We work in the theatre world as writers, directors, actors and theatre-makers. We have specialisms in playwriting, immersive theatre, documentary theatre, applied theatre, global theatre, and in the analysis and performance of classic texts. That’s why our drama degree looks like it does; because it was invented by award-winning theatre makers.

Five reasons to study drama at Essex

  • 1) Essex is an incubator

    A creative space for experimentation and innovation. It has the facilities to incubate your ideas and allow them to become real. It has a professionally equipped theatre and studio space, rehearsal rooms and a host of other arts spaces on campus. But the best part of Essex? Your fellow students who will enable you to do this. We provide the incubator. You provide the rest.

  • 2) The 50:50 principle: 50% Theory 50% Practice

    We understand that making the best theatre is challenging. You have to take risks to reach the rewards. Drama at Essex is about practice; working out how the best theatre is made. We know that ideas and theories are fundamental to improving your practice. A potent combination of theory and practice is central to our ethos. We know it works.

  • 3) Personal degree

    This degree will allow you to set your own creative pathway, to be the artist and thinker you want to be. You choose the shape of your degree to specialise in the areas that interest you. You can choose modules in theatre, literature or film to tailor your degree to your needs. Drama at Essex is a community. We all work closely together, and we thrive on the strong personal relationships that mean we support each other. This is a friendly department and one where your voice will be heard.

  • 4) The campus world

    Essex has an amazing campus. It’s amazing because it’s compact. This means that you meet new people all the time. You can’t help it at Essex. New people, students from around the globe, and from other subject areas are all around you. It is one of the most culturally diverse student populations in the UK. It’s this that gives the place its energy, a creative liveliness, and will help you develop unique work.

  • 5) Our students are happy and our rankings reflect it

    We achieved a 90% student satisfaction rate for drama in the NSS 2017. The University of Essex was awarded the highest rating of Gold in the recent Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and we are currently ranked 3rd in the UK for drama (Guardian University Guide 2018)

What our students say

  • Ashling Edward, actor

    Ashling Edwards

    "For someone who wasn't sure about whether or not university was the right choice for me, I can't explain how grateful I am for my time at Essex. Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to learn more about the craft I love, having the opportunity to work with peers as well as professionals within the industry.

    The Drama Department has been crucial to my success here, being surrounded by some of the most supportive, inspirational and encouraging people I have ever known.

    With everything I have learned, all the friends and experiences I have gained here, I look forward to what comes next as a proud Essex graduate. With the help of a newly signed agent, I am pursuing a career as an actor."

  • Joseph Waikh, applied theatre practitioner

    Joseph Waikh

    "Essex has been a great place to discover what I want to do as a profession. The varied and diverse modules on the BA Drama offer you so much to explore.

    Studying theatre and education alongside theatre and human rights has really enlightened me to the therapeutic and unifying qualities that theatre and drama have. Hence the reason why I have decided to continue my studies in applied theatre, so I can facilitate theatre work in this area.

    Drama is an incredibly powerful educational force whether in schools or communities, as it teaches you to see things from someone else's perspective, and we could all benefit from that!"

  • Kate Whiting, secondary school teacher

    Kate Whiting

    Studying drama at the University of Essex has allowed me to achieve something I thought was lost to me forever. I thought I had no more to give the world when I became a single parent, but this amazing place gave me the tools to progress into teaching.

    My biggest admiration were the University staff, who were an outstanding support network for me, and who kept me going when I needed them through the tough times. I will NEVER forget this place, the best three years of my life.

    I am going into teaching, so I can pass on my love of drama to new students. Educate, inspire, change. The University of Essex brought me back to life.


  • Bonnie Murphy, academic

    Bonnie Murphy

    "At Essex I've been given more opportunities than I could hope for. From working with professional theatre companies to taking shows on tour and to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this university has allowed me to grow as both a person and a theatre maker.

    I have been wonderfully supported by the lecturers and staff. It's thanks to them that I'll be starting my Masters Degree in Literature - a path I never would have considered - and feel ready to pursue my career and hope to go on to earn my PhD.

    This university and this department have become my home, and I am proud to say I graduated as a drama student from Essex."


Undergraduate courses

Drama and theatre studies: undergraduate

Our undergraduate courses allow you to study the practice and theory of drama, from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare to the latest contemporary theatre, and can be taken as a single honours degree or as a joint honours degree with literature or modern languages.

Masters courses

Drama and theatre studies: masters

Our MA Playwriting allows you to develop your unique dramatic voice through specialist modules focused on key aspects of the playwright�s craft and taught by experienced and award winning dramatists.

PhD study

Drama and theatre studies: PhD

We welcome applications for PhD study in theatre studies as a critical thesis or as a creative practice doctorate combining playwriting and critical commentary. You will be supervised by leading theatre specialists and award winning playwrights with a unique breadth of experience.

Lakeside Theatre

Lakeside Theatre

Our University's Lakeside Theatre runs an exciting programme of plays, music, comedy and workshops, as well as offering voluntary and paid work experience opportunities to our students.