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Shakespeare’s work is crucial to understanding the ideas, developments, genres, and stories of English literature. This course (as an introduction) attempts to introduce the life, times, and works of Shakespeare to modern students – particularly students who have never engaged with Shakespeare or his works.

Explore the life and work of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the English writer and playwright. Shakespeare is remembered as the greatest writer and playwright in the history of the English language, and a crucial figure for world literature. Indeed, he is remembered as the greatest writer of the Tudor period (1485-1603) and one of the key writers in British history. In this short course we will explore the life, times, and works of Shakespeare, in order to gain some understanding of this crucial writer in world history. The course explores Shakespeare’s life but also his work, specifically his great plays: the Comedies, the Histories and the Tragedies.

Course outline

The course is a short introduction of Shakespeare. It is designed to give a brief introduction to his life, his ideas, his times, and his works, in four two-hour sessions.

The specific sessions of the course include:

  • Session 1 – William Shakespeare – 1564-1616 – Life and Times
  • Session 2 – The Comedies
  • Session 3 The Histories
  • Session 4 – The Tragedies

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Have an introductory understanding of Shakespeare, his life, his times, and his works.
  • Have a basic understanding of the history of Shakespeare’s works and their importance to the history of English literature
  • Have some understanding of some of the key works by Shakespeare – the Comedies, the Histories, and the Tragedies.
  • Critically evaluate the themes and ideas of Shakespeare’s works, and its role in British and international literature.
  • Gain some skills to think rigorously, analytically, and critically about Shakespeare and his works.
  • Develop some interest in Shakespeare, both as a writer and as a thinker.
  • Develop some understanding of the importance of Shakespeare in the development of English and world literature.

Who should enrol

The course is designed for anyone who is interested in learning about Shakespeare, his life, his times, and his works..

Course materials

The course is designed as an introduction to Shakespeare, so it is advised that students familiarize themselves with the key texts of Shakespeare and studies of him. A bibliography shall be provided to students.


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