Module code: THE2022

Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader


Number of Credits


ECTS Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 1X ESSAY (2000 WORDS) 70

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module focuses on introducing, exploring and applying 20th and 21st-century theory to analyses of contemporary theatre and performance. It pays special attention to recurrent issues and methodologies in theatre and performance studies, bringing together two closely related components: critical thinking and performance analysis. The module traverses a broad range of theorists and theoretical methodologies as means of understanding theatre and performance from contrasting, opposing, or compatible perspectives.

Module aims

To provide core knowledge of key theorists and theoretical methodologies

To explore effective uses of theory in theatre and performance analysis

To enable students to use informed and relevant critical vocabularies and research methods

To nurture understanding of diverse, competing and compatible critical perspectives

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify and apply theoretical and methodological positions, trends and innovations in critical thinking KC
002 Engage creatively and critically with a range of theoretical perspectives, potentially including interdisciplinary perspectives KC
003 Retrieve, sift and synthesise information from a range of sources KCT
004 Develop and evaluate ideas and arguments through writing, presentation and informed, disciplined debate KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

The module will introduce a broad range of theoretical perspectives, providing students with a ‘tool box’ of critical frameworks for effective and rigorous theatre and performance analysis. Each class will focus broadly on one theorist at a time, or a small group of related theorists or school of thought, in relation to a case study, or set of case studies. Students will be encouraged to draw on their own experiences of attending theatre or experiencing performance and to use these as materials for discussion in seminars, presentations and in assessment. Students will also be expected to attend theatre and/or performance events over the course of the Semester, with a requirement that they attend at least one.

Indicative theorists or theoretical perspectives that the module may touch on will respond to the research strengths of the module tutor and may include, but are not limited to:

semiotics (Saussure, Peirce, Barthes, Pavis, Fischer-Lichte);
phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, States, Garner);
psychoanalysis (Freud, Lacan, Žižek, Phelan);
feminism and gender studies (Wollstonecraft, de Beauvoir, Butler, Cixous, Irigaray, Spivak, Aston);
postcolonial and critical race theory (Saïd, Bhabha, Fanon, Spivak);
Marxist perspectives and Continental philosophies of difference (Badiou, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Rancière, Williams).

The work of such theorists will be explored through seminar discussion, lectures and student presentations, with particular reference to a broad range of case studies drawn from theatre and performance practice – with both ‘theatre’ and ‘performance’ being understood in the broadest possible terms. Students will learn how to apply key concepts from ‘theory’ and philosophy in order to analyse examples of performance. However, they will also be encouraged to explore the relationship between theory and practice beyond application.

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: enhance knowledge and understanding of core theoretical perspectives; foster critical thinking and analytical skills (particularly with regards to theatre and performance analysis), as well as evaluative skills; enhance confidence and the ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively; promote supportive spaces for deliberation, contestation and debate; and enhance cognitive skill in the application of theory as an analytical tool.

Indicative learning and teaching methods include: lecture/seminars, workshops, field trips, peer-to-peer learning, debates and independent research and reflection.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to: demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical ideas, informed by an appropriate level of scholarship; apply theory to performance analysis as a means of interrogating into and understanding theatre and performance; achieve a decent level of argumentation and rigour; identify developments in theory and to demonstrate effective analysis of those developments; articulate fairly complex thought processes clearly and concisely.

Thus, the minor-weighted assignment for this module is intended to give students the opportunity to begin to engage with the above in a focused performance analysis, where students are asked to analyse a contemporary performance through a theoretical lens. The major-weighted assignment for this module consists of an academic essay to enable students to demonstrate all of the above.

Formative assessment and feedback

While assessed, the minor weighting of Assignment 1 and feedback for this assignment is also geared towards preparing students for the major weighting of Assignment 2. This is designed to alleviate a heavy 100% burden for the summative assessment, without placing too much pressure on mid-module assessment. 

This assessment strategy, with a minor-weighted assessed assignment placed mid-way through the module, is intended to provide an important, formative stepping stone (despite minor-weighting) towards the summative major-weighted Assignment 2. The performance analysis will provide an opportunity for the module tutor to provide written feedback which will take into account: knowledge and understanding of theory; appropriate application of theory to performance analysis; clarity of argument and critical perspective; structuring an academic argument; and satisfactory referencing.

Written feedback received from Assignment 1 is designed to supplement informal oral feedback in response to unassessed weekly student presentations. 

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Dance with Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Media Studies with Theatre and Performance BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Theatre and Performance with Film Studies BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.