English (ENGL) 303

A History of Drama Part I: Early Stages (Revision 3)

ENGL 303 Course website

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s)

Precluded Course: ENGL 300. (ENGL 303 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for ENGL 300.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

English Studies Home Page

ENGL 303 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


This course traces the history of Western theatre from its Greek origins to the beginning of the eighteenth century in England and France, with specific references to the plays in a core anthology, The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama.

It provides an analysis of individual plays as theatre and as literature, and includes brief background notes on the authors and on the significance of the plays in the context of Western theatre. It traces the common elements of drama from ritualistic and ceremonial dance and song, through the liturgical drama of the Middle Ages, English Renaissance tragedy and tragi-comedy, French neo-classical comedy and tragedy, and the social comedy of the Restoration. It also shows the development of the theatre as a physical structure, from the early Greek open air amphitheatres to the modified tennis courts in London, investigating the relationship of the physical theatre and the structure and style of the drama.


Act I — The Golden Age: Tragedy and Comedy in Athens

Act II — Medieval Roots and Renaissance Flowerings: Mysteries and Moralities, Tragedy and Tragicomedy

Act III — Sentiment and Wit: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Comedy and Tragedy


To receive credit for ENGL 303, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. A supplemental examination is available. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Scene Analysis Essay 1 Essay 2 Final Exam Total
10% 25% 25% 40% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama 5th ed. Ed. W. B. Worthen. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007.

George Farquhar. The Recruiting Officer. Ed. John Ross. New York: Norton, 1991, rpt. 2000.

Studying Plays, 2nd ed. Mick Wallis and Simon Shepherd. London: Arnold, 2002.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a study guide and a student manual.

Special Course Features

Many of the plays in ENGL 303 are available on audiotape and videotape from Athabasca University Library.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the Engl 303 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least 50 per cent on the examination, and a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) overall.

Essay Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, September 29, 2006.

View previous syllabus