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London, England

Program Description

This short-term study abroad course will explore the writings of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Queen Elizabeth Tudor (1533-1603), two of the most prominent individuals of the English Renaissance, against the cultural and historical backdrop of London. During the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson said that the person who is tired of London is tired of life; the same could be said of the earlier period, when London experienced phenomenal growth as England's economic, social, and political center.

This course will demonstrate that Shakespeare's and Elizabeth's writings come alive like never before when studied within the city that shaped their work. We will consider how contemporaries defined and represented both London and Queen Elizabeth in particular, and we will consider the ways in which the Tudor monarchy and English Reformation--along with Shakespeare himself--shaped the way in which Londoners understood themselves and their world. We will plan to supplement Shakespeare's and Elizabeth's writing by reading a range of primary documents including plays (by Shakespeare and others), pamphlets, complaint, and panegyric (i.e., elaborate praise) that will help us consider the opportunities and problems spawned by urbanization (social mobility, poverty, disease), as well as the institutions and structures that regulated the life of the city. We will also give careful thought to the burgeoning entertainment industry (and especially the public theater, where Shakespeare made his career) that helped to define London in the eyes of its inhabitants.

Our course will incorporate excursions to Stratford, where Shakespeare was born; and Oxford, where Elizabeth visited twice during her reign; and will include private exhibitions at some of London's greatest libraries of rare early printed copies of Shakespeare's plays and related books. We will visit Shakespeare's London neighborhood of the Blackfriars and will walk in Elizabeth's footsteps as we retrace the exact route of her coronation procession through the city. Outings will include the Tower of London, where Queen Elizabeth was imprisoned during the reign of her half-sister Mary; Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth is buried; the Tudor palace of Hampton Court, where Elizabeth resided; and much more. We will supplement our study with class viewings of plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company theater, in Stratford, and at the Globe Theater, in London.

Location Description

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and a vibrant city of more than 8.5 million people. Its cultural resources are unparalleled. They include world-class sites of historical, anthropological, archaeological, or artistic importance, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, West End theaters, New Globe Theater, and much more. London is served by six airports and many rail stations; both the European continent and locations in England, Scotland, and Wales are easily accessible.

This program offers one extended weekend to allow students the opportunity to travel. Located at the center of English social and political life, students will have the opportunity to explore fine cuisine and immerse themselves in London's thriving arts scene. Theaters, parks, and specialty book shops abound. London is truly an international city and an important political and financial center. London receives around 15 million visitors annually and has recently earned recognition as the most frequently visited city in the world. There is something here for everyone!


Mark Rankin | | English


Accommodations will be provided for students through furnished student apartments or dormitory-style housing with internet access and full kitchen and laundry facilities. Students will be in shared double rooms. Housing accommodations are centrally located and public transportation is easily accessible.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend that will cover approximately 14 meals per week.

Additional Items to Consider

A specific itinerary will be made available in advance of departure. Travel to England does not require a VISA, but students should ensure that their passport does not expire less than 6 months from date of travel. Students should plan to bring any prescription medications with them to London.

We will not deviate substantially from the following general itinerary. In addition to class discussions,

Week 1 (June 10-14) outings include the National Portrait Gallery; a rare book workshop at Senate House Library, University of London; and a weekend outing to Stratford-upon-Avon and Kenilworth Castle, to include visits to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway House, Holy Trinity Church (Shakespeare’s burial site), and a RSC performance.

Week 2 (June 17-21) outings include Westminster Abbey; the Tower of London and Tower Hill; a retracing of Elizabeth's coronation walk through London; a Bankside walk (to include the New Globe & Rose Theatres, Golden Hind replica, Southwark Cathedral, and Bishop of Winchester’s Palace ruin); and a Shoreditch walk (The Curtain Theatre).

Week 3 (June 24-28) outings include Lambeth Palace Library; a half-day outing to Hampton Court Palace; a walk visiting Charing Cross replica & 16th century London prison and execution sites; a tour of Shakespeare's Blackfriars neighborhood; and a day-trip to Oxford.

Our final outing on Friday, June 28, will be to the British Library treasures gallery, where we will view incomparable, priceless objects including the Magna Carta, Codex Sinaiticus, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Cuthbert Gospels, one of just two surviving copies of the first printed English New Testament, unique literary and musical manuscripts by Jane Austin, George Friderick Handel, the Beatles, and much more.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors 

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

WAITLIST applications only.

apply now 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ENG 320L: Shakespeare on the Page and Stage in London (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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