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English and Drama

English and Drama are natural partners; the study of each augments, enriches and illuminates the study of the other. At Royal Holloway two highly distinguished departments have come together to create an integrated degree programme and have devoted themselves to the creation of an extremely varied and stimulating academic undergraduate experience. Holders of degrees from either of these departments have proved employable in a wide spectrum of careers; acting,  directing, theatre management, film, media and television, teaching, management, journalism, law, administration, accountancy, PR, as well as further postgraduate study to MA and PhD levels. Both departments have impressive research communities and are leaders in their fields.

Be part of two top-ranked departments

This is one of the most dynamic, flexible and varied English and Drama Joint Honours programmes on offer in the UK. Growing from strength to strength since its foundation over 25 years ago, the programme draws fully on the premier reputations in teaching and research enjoyed by both contributing departments.

Core courses, specially designed for English & Drama students, are taught by a joint team of lecturers from both departments; they demonstrate our commitment to the stimulating and cohesive academic experience for Joint Honours students.

The combined resources are outstanding: over 50 members of academic staff, a range of visiting experts, the new purpose-built Caryl Churchill Theatre and rehearsal studios staffed by highly-skilled technicians, a resident professional theatre company, an excellent Library, and professional links with arts organisations in London.

Students choose from a vast array of optional courses in Drama and English literature, from Shakespeare to Stanislavski, from science fiction to Japanese Noh Theatre, and from playwriting to poetic practice. Throughout their degree, students encounter a variety of learning experiences, from practical workshops to essay tutorials. We enable our students to make discoveries and unlock their potential, whether in creative work or in critical modes of expression.

Why Royal Holloway?

Royal Holloway is ranked among the UK's top university institutions for both teaching and research. One of the larger colleges of the University of London, we are strong across the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Our 8,000 students work with internationally renowned scholars in 21 academic departments. The University of London degree gained by our talented, high-achieving graduates is valued the world over.

As a small cosmopolitan community, with students from 120 countries, we focus on the support and development of the individual. Our lively country campus, just 19 miles west of central London, provides a unique environment for university study. Campus life revolves around the Students' Union, which runs over 75 societies and sports clubs, and we are recognised as London's best sporting college.


The beautiful Royal Holloway campus is the focal point of student life and is home to an  impressive range of modern facilities. The Departments of Drama and English occupy  five substantial buildings in the heart of the campus, encompassing four theatres, rehearsal spaces, extensive  IT facilities, a digital studio and a design studio. The College’s excellent Library and Computer  Centre are also close to hand.

In addition to the campus in Egham, the College has a well-equipped building at  Bedford Square in central London which provides an important teaching facility.


Teaching and assessment 

How will I be taught and assessed?

The basic teaching session is usually two or three hours long. During that time there may be a formal  lecture or a screening, followed by small-group discussions, seminars and practical workshops.  Alternatively, students may work co-operatively for the whole teaching session on practical and  theoretical projects. Independent research is presented, ideas are developed, texts are read  and their problems and challenges tested.

A full and varied range of assessment techniques is used. We predominantly employ assessed  essays, written as part of the work in each course; dissertations; practical presentations and performances of all kinds; and  a small number of formal unseen examinations.

Classes typically consist of about 15–18 students. Each student is assigned to a  Personal Tutor, with whom they maintain contact for the duration of the programme.  The role of the Personal Tutor is to be the first point of contact should queries or difficulties arise  concerning a student’s participation in their programme of study.

Can I study abroad as part of my course?

There are opportunities for students to study abroad during their time at Royal Holloway.  Studying abroad is a great opportunity to develop new skills and experience student  life in a new environment. A period of study outside the UK will also provide you with the  opportunity to:

  • Broaden your academic knowledge
  • Enhance your CV and ensure you stand out from the crowd at interview
  • Immerse yourself in a different culture
  • Interact with students from around the world
  • Travel and explore new surroundings
For more information and contact details, visit the Study Abroad & Student Exchange website at:  www.rhul.ac.uk/studyhere/international.

Students wishing to take advantage of these opportunities should consult the relevant  contacts in both departments.

Entry requirements and application process

How do I apply for admission?

Applications for entry to all our full-time undergraduate degrees must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To make an application you will need a UCAS application form and directory. Your school or college should have these materials, otherwise you can write to UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3LZ, telephone 01242 223707 or visit the UCAS website at: http://www.ucas.co.uk.

The UCAS form requires an institution code and a course code. The institution code for Royal Holloway is R72, RHUL. The course code for English/Drama is QW34. A student applying to this degree programme may be invited to spend a day visiting both departments, on the basis of which an offer may be made.

What we are looking for?

For the BA English & Drama  programme, we require ABB at A-level, normally with A in English Literature. A2 Theatre Studies desirable but not essential. [Please note that General Studies at A-level is not acceptable as one of our A-level requirements.] The other subject should be another subject relevant to the study of Drama and English. Appropriate subjects include, but are not restricted to, the following: English Language; a foreign language (classical or modern); History; History of Art; Art; Music; Politics; Psychology; Social Studies or Sociology; Classical Studies; Dance. A foreign language, classical or modern, at GCSE is preferred but not essential.

We require 35-36 points at IB including a 6 in English at higher level. Theatre Studies preferred but not essential.  Equivalent offers will be made for all  other appropriate forms of qualifications (Highers, BTEC etc) and for overseas qualifications. 

Alternative Qualifications

Special consideration is given to mature applicants and students without a conventional  educational background. We look favourably,for example, upon students who are returning  to study through an Access course. We also consider all appropriate overseas qualifications.  Overseas applicants are expected to have considerable proficiency in the English  language; the minimum levels we usually consider are an IELTS score with minimum  sub-scores of 7, or a TOEFL score of 570.

Who will teach me?

Department of Drama & Theatre


Melissa Blanco Borelli, BA (Brown University) MA (University of Southern California), PhD (UC Riverside)
Senior Lecturer in Dance 
Teaching areas include:  dance history and theory, devising for dance theatre,  performance ethnography, critical (race) theory and philosophy.

Emma Brodzinski, BA (Lancaster), PGDip (Roehampton), MRes, (London), PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas includelive art,  theatre and therapy,  theatre and health,  devising.

Matthew Isaac Cohen, AB (Harvard), PhD (Yale)
Professor of International Theatre
Teaching areas include:  Southeast Asian performing arts, puppet theatre and object performance,  cross-cultural and transnational performance.

Emma Cox, BA (Canterbury, NZ), MPhil (Queensland), PhD (ANU) 
Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: Australian and New Zealand theatre, film and activism,  Asylum and migration, Museology, indigeneity and repatriation,  Family history​.

Lynette Goddard, BA, MRes, PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: black and Asian theatre and performance, staging race on the British stage from the renaissance to the present,  gender, race and sexuality in film, theatre and television, contemporary productions of Shakespeare on stage and screen. 

Bryce Lease, BFA (Emerson), MPhil (Trinity College, University of Dublin), PhD (Kent)
Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: performance studies, contemporary European theatre,  gender and sexuality, political theatre. 

Dick McCaw, MA (Cambridge), PhD (University of London)
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: physical theatre,  contemporary theatre practitioners,  practical skills in theatre.

ELAINE McGIRR, BA (Rochester, New York), MA, PhD (Washington, St Louis)
Head of Department
Teaching and research interests include:Restoration and 18th-century drama, Celebrity and the 18th-century cultural marketplace, the performance of masculinity, the realities and representation of early modern maternity

Chris Megson, BA (Hull), MPhil (Glasgow), PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: Contemporary theatre: politics and philosophy,  Post-war British theatre, Naturalist and fin-de-siècle theatre,  Group Performance.

Helen Nicholson, BA (London), PGCE (Bristol), PhD (Warwick)
Professor of Theatre and Performance
Teaching areas include: theatre education,  performance of memory and museum theatre,  theatre and cultural practices,  theatre for young audiences.   

Sophie Nield, BA, PhD (Manchester)
Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: European modernist theatre, place, space and performance,  historiography and critical theory, film studies.

Dan Rebellato, BA (Bristol), PhD (London)
Head of Department
Professor of Contemporary Theatre
Teaching areas include: modern and contemporary British and European theatre,  playwriting, critical theory and philosophy.

Elizabeth Schafer, BA, PhD (London), PGCE (Nottingham), MA (Birmingham)
Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies
Teaching areas include: Shakespeare in performance,  Renaissance drama, Australian drama and theatre.

Ashley Thorpe, BA, PhD (London)
Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include: actor training methods in East Asian theatre,  casting and theatrical representation,  intercultural performance, research through practice.

Caroline Wake, BA, PhD (UNSW, Australia)
Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
Teaching areas include:  Australian theatre, performance and visual culture, theatres of the real, including testimonial, tribunal and documentary theatre,  theatre, performance and media, theories of spectatorship.

David Williams, BA & MA (Kent), PhD (Plymouth/Dartington)
Professor of Performance Practices
Teaching areas include: Devising, collaborative performance-making practices,  Directing, Dramaturgy.

Libby Worth, BA, MA (Surrey), PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in Theatre Practice
Teaching areas include: Choreographic practices,  Physical theatre and dance drama,  Performer training and performance making, Site specific performance.

Department of English

TIM ARMSTRONGBA, MA (Canterbury, NZ), PhD (London)
Head of Department
Professor of Modern English and American Literature
Teaching and research areas include: modernism and modernity, American literature and culture,  literature and technology, the poetry of Thomas Hardy.

Lecturer in Medieval English
Teaching and research areas include: Piers Plowman, Middle English sermons and devotional texts,  rhetoric and persuasion, Chaucer.

ROY BOOTH, BA (Oxon), PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in Renaissance English
Teaching and research areas include: early modern poetry, John Donne and his circle,  witchcraft and early modern drama, broadside ballads and the popular theatre.

CHRISTIE CARSON, BA (Queen’s Canada), MA (Toronto), PhD (Glasgow):
Reader in Shakespeare in Performance
Teaching and research areas include: performance history of Shakespeare,  Shakespearean adaptation, the use of digital technology in teaching and research,  intercultural performance.

DOUGLAS COWIE, BA (Colgate University, New York) MA, PHD (University of East Anglia)
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing
Teaching and research areas include: F iction Writing, American poetry and fiction of the 20th Century, The links between writing and music, Nelson Algren.

ROBERT EAGLESTONE, BA (Manchester), MA (Southampton), PhD (Wales)
Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought
Teaching and research areas include: contemporary and 20th-century literature, literary theory and philosophy, Trauma studies, the Holocaust and genocide.

FINN FORDHAM, MA (Cantab ), PhD (London)
Reader in 20th-century Literature
Teaching and research areas include:  James Joyce, modernism, French 19th - century influences within modernism, 20th - century literary manuscripts.

Professor of Modern Literature and Theory
Teaching and research areas include: postmodernism, narrative theory, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, Irish Literature and its European contexts.

Reader in Victorian Literature
Teaching and research interests include: 19th -century literature and visual arts,  19th-century maritime studies, mourning and wedding rituals,  ideas of ancestry and nationhood.

Lecturer in 19th-century Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Victorian literature,  Literature and the arts in the 19th century, the ideal and the real in 19th -century poetics.

ROBERT HAMPSON, BA (London), MA (Toronto), PhD (London)
Professor of Modern Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Joseph Conrad,  19th- and 20th-century literature, contemporary English and American poetry, creative writing.

Professor of 18th-century Literature
Teaching and research interests include: 18th -century literature and thought, Laurence Sterne,  18th-century women writers,  18th -century private theatricals and amateur performance.

DR BETTY JAY, BA (Southampton), PhD (London)
Senior Lecturer in 20th-century Literature
Teaching and research interests include: 20th-century literature, gender,  contemporary literature,  war writing.

JULIET JOHN, BA (Cantab), PhD (London)
Hildred Carlisle Professor of English
Teaching and research interests include: Charles Dickens, Victorian literature and culture, Victorian popular culture, Film adaptation and Heritage culture.

SUSANNA JONES, BA (London), MA (Manchester)
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research
Teaching and research interests include: Fiction writing, The contemporary novel, Practice-based research.

Lecturer in Creative Writing

RUTH LIVESEY, BA (Oxon), MA, PhD (Warwick)
Reader in 19th-century Literature and Thought
Teaching and research interests include: Victorian literaturem,  gender, politics and the history of ideas in 19th-century culture, urban exploration, 19th-century travel, communications and literature.

Dr Katie McGettigan    BA, PhD
Lecturer in American literature

BEN MARKOVITS, BA (Yale), MPhil (Oxon)
Reader in Creative Writing
Teaching and research interests include: Creative writing, The Romantics, Sport and writing.

MARK MATHURAY, BA (Witwatersrand, S A), MA (Sussex), PhD (Cantab)
Lecturer in Contemporary Literature
Teaching and research interests include: African literatures, postcolonial studies in literature and culture, modernism, dissident sexualities and literary theory.

WILL MONTGOMERY, BA (C antab), MA (London)
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature
Teaching and research interests include: contemporary American poet ry, modernist literature, contemporary poetry and poetics, sound, art and literature.

Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Medieval literature, particularly Malory and Lydgate,  politics and chivalry in literature, translation theory and practice, manuscript and early print cultures.

Dr Harry Newman    MA, PhD
Lecturer in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama

JENNIFER NEVILLE, BA (Alberta), MA (Toronto), PhD (Cantab)
Reader in Anglo-Saxon Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf,  JRR Tolkien ’s use of Old English Literature, Old English riddles in the Exeter Book.

REDELL OLSEN, BA (Camb), MA (Staffs), PhD (London)
Reader in Poetic Practice
Teaching and research interests include: avant-garde modernist and contemporary poetics, visual arts and poetry, feminist theory and writing practice, contemporary fiction.

DEANA RANKIN, MA (Ulster), MA, DPhil (Oxon)
Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Shakespeare in performance and on film, Renaissance and 17th-century drama, Irish literature, particularly drama, classical republicanism in early modern France and Britain.

ADAM ROBERTS, MA (Aberdeen), PhD (Camb)
Professor of 19th-century Literature
Teaching and research interests include: 19th-century Literature (particularly poetry), Science fiction and fantasy, postmodernism, creative writing.

JO SHAPCOTTMA (Trinity College, Dublin), BA (Oxford)
Professor of Poetry
Teaching and research interests include: Creative writing and practice, poetry and the body, poetry and science, poetry and the environment.

JAMES SMITH     MA, PhD (Manchester)Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature

Tiffany Stern       MA, PhD
Proffesor of Shakespeare Studies
Interests include Shakespeare, 16-18th century drama, editing, theatre history, book history

Lecturer in 20th-century Literature
Teaching and research interests include: contemporary literature and film, migration, diaspora, and writing, postcolonial theory and writing, ecocriticism.

ANNE VARTY, MA (Glas), DPhil (Oxon)
Professor of Victorian Literature
Teaching and research interests include: Victorian literature especially Pater, Wilde and Aestheticism, Children and Victorian theatre, modern and contemporary British and European Drama, Liz Lochhead and contemporary poetry.

First years undertake a foundation year that is designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge we consider fundamental to the combined study of English and Drama. Students take two units in each department, and study alongside single honours students. These courses focus on the acquisition of the theoretical, practical and methodological skills necessary to develop a sophisticated understanding of the subject. Courses in the English Department will introduce students to the study of the novel and to the study of poetry. The foundation course in Drama offers creative and critical approaches to the study of drama, and introduces students to the practical elements of theatrical performance.

First year courses

Inventing the Novel

Introducing English Poetry

Thinking as a Critic

Theatre and Performance-making 1

Theatre and Ideas 1

In addition, students will also take part in a series of Foundation Tutorials. Working in small groups with their personal tutor, they will learn a range of essential skills for making the transition from school to university.

Please note that in the second year of your joint honours degree you will choose between studying EN1106 Shakespeare or EN1001 Medieval Literature in the English department.

In the second year students start to specialise, making their course choices based around the interests which they have formed in first year. Students work with staff from both the English and Drama department on a Shakespeare course specially designed for English & Drama students. Alongside this, they take one and a half units in the Drama department from a wide range of courses listed under the umbrella themes of Theatre and Performance-making 2 and Theatre and Ideas 2; in English they choose one and a half units from the full menu of options offered to all English students.

Second year courses

Shakespeare, Page to Stage

1.5 units from a range of English options

1.5 units from a range of Drama options listed under

  • Theatre and Performance-making 2
  • Theatre and Ideas 2

In third year, students develop their own expertise. They take part in the dedicated English Drama Research Seminar led by staff from both departments. Themes vary from year to year according to the staff team. Recent examples have included: Peter Pan: An Awfully Big Adventure; Nation/ Adaptation; Sound and Movement in Old English Poetry; Dislocating Shakespeare; Pop: Text and Performance. Alongside this, students choose a total of three units from the wide range of whole and half unit options offered by both departments. This should include ONE of the following: Special Author (one unit) Special Topic (one unit) Dissertation (one unit) Methods and Processes with Final Year Project (two units). This framework thus offers ample opportunity for students to pursue their developing interests and specialisms in both English and Drama in their third year of study.

Third year Courses

English Drama Research Seminar

ONE of the following:    

  • Methods and Processes with Final Year Project (two units)
  • Special Author (one unit)
  • Special Topic (one unit)
  • Dissertation (one unit)

ONE or TWO units, as required, from the range of options available in the Drama and/or English Departments.

Royal Holloway has an excellent Careers Service available to all students from the day they arrive. Both departments run internship programmes in which second and third year students apply and take part in a rigorous selection process.

This popular degree programme will provide you with a strong foundation for your future.  Graduates from this programme enter a wide variety of careers such as acting, directing, theatre management, film, media & television, teaching, management, journalism, website creation, law, administration, accountancy,  PR, as well as further postgraduate study to MA and PhD levels.

What our alumni say...

James Pidgeon graduated in 2009, and now works for the National Theatre.

“Not only did Royal Holloway offer me a huge breadth of academic knowledge, it also taught me the importance of being organised, working efficiently in a team, being tactful and always communicating effectively in order to succeed. It is these elements combined with a concrete knowledge of my subject area that have really helped my career to develop.”


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