English (ENGL) 303

A History of Drama Part I: Early Stages (Revision 5)

ENGL 303 Course website

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study Online with Print Textbook

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

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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 Wadsworth 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 this course, you must achieve achieve a minimum grade of D (50 percent) on all of the below assignments and final exam and an overall grade of D (50 percent) for the entire course. All assignments and final examination must be submitted or completed by the end of your course contract date.

Activity Weighting
Scene Analysis 10%
Critical Review 20%
Essay Proposal 5%
Essay 25%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

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

Course Materials


Worthen, W. B., ed. The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama. 6th ed. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2010.

Wallis, Mick and Simon Shepherd. Studying Plays. 4th ed. New York: Bloomsbury, 2018.

Other Materials

All other course materials are online.

Special Course Features

Many of the plays in ENGL 303 are available online via the Athabasca Landing and the Athabasca University Library’s Theatre in Video database.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about 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 D (50 percent) on the examination, and a grade of at least D (50 percent) overall.

Activity Weighting
Critical Essay 50%
Exam 50%
Total 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 5, March 9, 2016.

View previous syllabus