You’re undoubtedly familiar with William Shakespeare, but how did he and other Elizabethan wordsmiths define an era and create a timepiece of this dramatic time with their works? How are Elizabethan values and stereotypes portrayed within the works of the age’s most celebrated poets, authors, and playwrights?  What was it like to enjoy live Elizabethan theatre?  Students taking this course will be introduced to the life and work of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries through lectures, workshops, field trips, and theatre visits.

Shakespeare and Elizabethan Literature is designed to help students to understand the fascinating social and historical background to some of the most famous, most compelling poetry and drama ever written. The course begins by studying the conventions of Elizabethan love poetry and considering the sexual stereotypes addressed by writers such as Marvell, John Donne, and Christopher Marlowe (a poet and playwright who met his end in a bar brawl.)

Students will go on to read and watch performances of two of Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare wrote drama that entertained but also confronted his audiences. By studying plays such as the comedy Twelfth Night and the tragedy of Macbeth students will be introduced to the following topics: the power struggles between Elizabethan men and women; the influence of carnival and cross-dressing; the use of sexual innuendo on Shakespeare’s Stage; the history and style of Elizabethan acting; the representation of witchcraft and dramatization of rebellion and violent conflict.

The course also involves a visit to the recreation of the Globe Theatre on the banks of the River Thames (a theatre where Shakespeare wrote and performed plays after 1599) and a walking tour of Shakespeare’s London. This course is suitable for any student interested in knowing more about Shakespeare and his fellow writers.



  • National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Bankside
  • The Curtain Theatre, Shoreditch


Students registered for this course may also be particularly interested in booking a place on our Shakespeare's Footsteps: Culture and History in Stratford-upon-Avon weekend trip. Learn more on our London Activities page. 




Shakespeare and Elizabethan Literature STUDY TOUR

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