Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: Shakespeare's History Plays (LLLG07099)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
Summary At the core of this course is Shakespeare's dazzling second tetralogy, the plays from Richard II and Henry IV pts 1&2 through to Henry V. Great tides of rebellion and war swirl through these plays and in them Shakespeare shows us a weak and unpopular ruler in Richard II; a Machiavellian usurper - Henry IV - troubled by recurrent rebellion and an erring and dissolute teenage son; a would-be corrupt court favourite in Jack Falstaff; and finally a great but brutal military leader in Henry V. Each ruler will be closely analysed as we consider the moral choices they have to make, and the drama created by these choices..
Course description In each class, an introductory mini-lecture will be given highlighting key themes from the plays. The class will read extracts from the dramas in class, and will watch a variety of filmed performances, and be asked to discuss as a group the challenges of staging the plays and to reflect on and respond to each performance.
Close textual analysis will be supported by the tutor and students will consider the literary and dramatic techniques and devices used by Shakespeare. We shall pay detailed attention to the characterisation of the rulers, and consider the different ways in which they have been interpreted by actors. Students will be supported and encouraged to present their own arguments and ideas to the class, and to refer to secondary reading. As a class, we shall ask why the plays are considered to be so relevant today, 400 years after they were written.

The following topics will be covered:

Background to the rise of the history play

The pitfalls of ousting an unpopular ruler: Richard II (c.1596)

Educating a prince from life rather than books: Henry IV pt 1 (c.1597)

Elegy for merry England: Henry IV pt 2 (c.1598)

England needs a hero: Henry V (1599)

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate knowledge and understanding of the historical, social and political context in which the plays were written;
  2. Evaluate texts and analyse characters through close reading, identify literary and dramatic techniques and devices and assess ways in which the language changes and develops throughout the tetralogy;
  3. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently;
  4. Evaluate staged performances, and assess the journalistic reviews
Reading List
William Shakespeare., 2015. The Norton Shakespeare. New York: W. W. Norton
Further recommended reading:
Robert Watt (ed.)., 2003. Shakespeare's History Plays. London: Longman
Graham Holderness., 1999. Shakespeare: the Histories. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing texts
Ability to articulate knowledge and arguments coherently
Ability to assess secondary materials
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information