Shakespeare Core Course

Year 3 Core Course (ENGL3002)

Course Convenor: Prof René Weis

The aim of this third-year core course is to introduce students to the study of Shakespeare at a high level. Its objectives are to cover as many plays and poems as is consistent with some depth.

Weekly lectures are supported by fortnightly seminars which investigate individual plays in detail. Four set plays are set for special study each year: these form the basis of the autumn term seminars and are examined in a separate section on the Finals examination paper. The spring term seminars are sign-up, offering students a choice from five or six topics. These sign-up seminars offer opportunities for teachers to share their specialist interests, and for students to develop their own personal expertise.

An introductory lecture sets out the chronology and canon of Shakespeare's work, and basic textual and editorial information. After this, autumn term lectures cover each of the set plays, followed by lectures on critical methodologies for studying Shakespeare. Spring term lectures cover a range of themes and genres, typically covering up to three works per lecture, and moving through the Shakespeare canon in broadly chronological sequence. By the end of the course students should feel that they have substantial knowledge of a range of Shakespeare’s works and are familiar with key topics in current Shakespeare studies.

A basic reading list is issued at the start of the course, and lecturers and seminar-leaders recommend further reading. The Final examination is an open-book paper lasting six hours, with a copy of the complete works (Arden edition) provided for each candidate. The aim is to encourage candidates to give considered answers, to show how they can work closely with Shakespeare’s works, and to show how their work on the course has equipped them to think on their feet about Shakespeare. There are commentary as well as essay questions on the set plays.