Much Ado About Shakespeare: Hamlet part 2

Ref: C2344305

We will explore the play's themes of responsibility to one’s self, to family, friends and lovers, to society, country, & God. What am I doing here, and why? Hamlet is a study of what is going on in the mind, and in deciding what to do and how to do it, set in an atmosphere of suspicion, distinguishing between true and false, acting and deceiving, acting and exposing. What is the point of theatre? We will consider the problems and opportunities of staging this play today and in Shakespeare’s time. With its play within a play, and Hamlet’s advice to the actors, we get an insight into Shakespeare’s own thoughts about this. We shall also look at the much shorter Hamlet as first printed, which has long puzzled scholars. It lacks scenes that appear in other versions, but has one scene that appears nowhere else, the order of the play is different, some character names are changed, and it has a longer and more detailed "advice to the players" shedding light on how plays were performed

Course aim

This course is for those who are familiar with Shakespeare’s "Hamlet”. Continuing from last term, we shall look at the later part of the play and its overall themes We shall also study Shakespeare’s “‘other’ Hamlet”, a much less well known version.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • This course is for improvers
  • You need an understanding and familiarity with the first part of the play, because we are continuing from last term. Newcomers with that background are welcome to join us.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • 1. Approach Shakespeare without fear. I will acquire a confidence that I can understand, enjoy and contribute to discussions of Shakespeare's themes, language.
  • 2. Explain the context in which the play was written, the background of the period when Shakespeare was writing, its politics and the Elizabethan/Jacobean view of the world
  • 3. Offer insights into the language of the play, its effect on our language today and the changing meanings and associations of words
  • 4. describe theatrical approaches to performance, both Elizabethan and modern, and discuss various ways of performing this play.
  • 5. discuss the relevance of Hamlet today

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • We shall read the plays, making sure we understand the words and explore their wider effect. You will watch extracts online for discussion in class. You may prepare speeches for reading in class. We will ponder the plays' relevance to each of us individually and collectively. We will enjoy them.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be able to keep a record of your progress and achievement using photos, audio, text or documents uploaded into the WEA’s digital learning platform, WEA Canvas.
  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • We will read the plays aloud, discuss the text, answer questions, give views on each other's ideas. We are exploring what the play means to us. There are no wrong answers. In each class there will be small group discussion, which will also help students get to know each other.

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You need to be familiar with the first part of Hamlet. Try to see Hamlet online or DVD or live if you can. You may want your own printed copy, with helpful notes. Beginners might like the Oxford or Cambridge School Shakespeares, those more experienced might try the Arden or the Oxford editions.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Nottingham has a Shakespeare Society you can join. Their lectures are open to all on payment of a small fee. Local professional and amateur theatres produce Shakespeare plays from time to time and sometimes have related events and information. Watch their websites.

Download full course information sheet

Much Ado About Shakespeare: Hamlet part 2


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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