Shakespeare’s Tragedies


Deepen your knowledge and appreciation of Shakespeare's tragedies with this in-person weekly class. We shall study Richard II, Hamlet, Othello and King Lear.

Richard II and Hamlet, though born to rule, are men of thought rather than action. Shakespeare explores the inner life of these tragic heroes placed in intolerable situations. 

Othello and King Lear are men of action, unaccustomed to dealing with the complexities of personal relationships. Othello, a distinguished general, relies on the malevolent Iago to interpret and indeed create the disaster of his marriage. Lear divides his kingdom and his family by his literally insane misjudgements. 

The political and the personal are interwoven to present complex, moving and dramatic crescendos into disaster.

Programme details

Courses starts: 3rd October 2023

Week 1: Introduction.  Richard II

Week 2: Richard II

Week 3: Richard II

Week 4: Hamlet

Week 5: Hamlet 

Week 6: Hamlet

Week 7: Othello

Week 8: Othello

Week 9: King Lear

Week 10: King Lear


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £257.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Priscilla Martin

Priscilla Martin teaches English Literatue and Classics.  Her publications include books on Chaucer, Langland, Shakespeare, Iris Murdoch, articles on the Gawain-poet, Tyndale and twentieth-century novelists; and a novel.

Course aims

To deepen knowledge and appreciation of Shakespeare's tragedies

Course objectives:

  • To consider the genre of tragedy in relation to these plays.
  • To set the plays in their literary and theatrical context.
  • To analyse their language in detail.

Teaching methods

The classes will consist principally of discussion and student participation is welcomed. The tutor will  provide short introductions to each text and topic.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • have a detailed knowledge of the set plays;
  • have learned about Shakespeare's theatre, its audience and its technology; 
  • have sharpened their critical skills in reading poetry and drama.

Assessment methods

Work will be assessed on the basis of one long or two shorter essays or a portfolio, which might include analyses of several extracts from the set plays, a review of a performance, or a class presentation accompanied by notes. It should be based on close and perceptive reading of the plays and, if desired, secondary critical material and should be clearly and correctly presented. 

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form



To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)