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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:05

Course Overview

This course begins by considering the theatre that gave us Marlowe and Shakespeare, among other major dramatists, as an institution actively engaged in the controversies of politics and religion of the age.  Part 1 of the course focuses on the plays of Christopher Marlowe, whose controversial life is unusually well documented and whose plays starkly anticipate later tensions in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama .  Part 2 considers how those tensions in politics and religion developed in later drama, giving particular attention to the genre of revenge tragedy. 

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Thomas C. K. Rist

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • English (EL)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Cast outside of London's walls, subject to censorship, Renaissance drama revelled in the controversies of its age, and no dramatist was more controversial than Christopher Marlowe. Taking in the place of the stage and its censorship-conditions, this course will begin by considering Marlowe's shocking treatments of ethics, politics, sexuality and religion on the English stage. It will then consider the development of these themes in authors such as Kyd and Shakespeare, in such influential works as The Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet, and the dramatic heritage of revenge tragedy these plays gave rise to in the turbulent eras of Renaissance and Reformation. Hamlet said theatre can show 'the very age and body of the time his form and pressure'. This course will study the pressures of his time, through the medium of some of its most striking dramatic works.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Alternative Assessment

(45%) Essay 1, 3000-words

(45%) Essay 2, 3000-words

(10%) SAM

Alternative Resit Assessment

1 x 3,500-word Resit Essay (100%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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