Shakespeare: The Tragedies

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
23 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This course provides a focussed encounter with Shakespeare’s four great tragedies: Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello. It offers the opportunity for close reading of texts which have consistently been posed against each other, as well as in relation to Shakespeare’s complete oeuvre. The course will interrogate the degree to which these plays are indeed ‘tragedies’, and the usefulness of this generic category for understanding the plays.

Each text will be approached in terms of a context or an idea or an issue which has orientated recent critical discussion of that particular play. The course will also seek to introduce students to some of the defining critical discussions of these plays, both singly and as a group. Throughout an effort will be made to read texts historically as well as in terms of their enduring and/or present significance.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

1. To introduce students to Shakespeare's work through focussed attention to his principal tragedies
2. To familiarise students with the formal and generic innovativeness of these plays relative to sources and contexts (including Shakespeare's previous work)
3. To interrogate the generic aptness of the term 'tragedy' in each case.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

1. Display more detailed knowledge of Shakespeare`s principal tragedies
2. Critically evaluate the formal and generic character of each play
3. Approach the plays critically from within their own historical moments
4. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to engage in intellectual debates around the issues raised by this module.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 1-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (3,000 words)    80% 
Coursework   Reflective Portfolio    15% 
Coursework   Participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Patricia Gillies, email:
Dr Patricia Gillies
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Doug Haynes
University of Sussex
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture
Available via Moodle
Of 1676 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
1676 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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