Shakespearean Drama (U350-219)

Work at your own pace to complete this university-level course. Shakespearean Drama (U350-219) is required study for a major in English in most degree programs nationwide and may also count towards general requirements in the humanities. This course offers you the chance to study at your own pace, in your own home, and still enjoy one-on-one interaction with your instructor via e-mail. Before you enroll, please check with your degree granting-institution to confirm they will accept this transfer credit.

This course covers five of the major comedies, Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It, together with an early tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, and 2 of the better-known history plays, Richard II and Henry IV, Parts I and II. Many issues of interest to contemporary readers are addressed, such as racial and gender bias, conflicts between parents and children, a realistic vs. a romantic perspective, and the stormy, unpredictable nature of romantic love and revolution. Key stylistic and philosophic features of Shakespeare’s writing are also considered.


  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • As You Like It
  • Twelfth Night
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Richard II
  • Henry IV

Course materials

picture of course guide

Course Guide (available through the course website)



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The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, ed. by Harbage (Penguin, 2002), or other edition or copyright date. Other unabridged publications of the plays may also be used; however, care should be taken to obtain editions with many explanatory footnotes and some explanations of the plays.


How it works

After you've registered for the course and purchased your textbook(s), you will receive access to a faculty-authored course guide which carefully leads you through the material of the course. You complete a series of assignments, and receive personalized instructor feedback on each one before progressing to the next. You have one year from your registration date to complete the course, and most students finish in less time.

How to enroll

Contact Student Services for information on registering for your course:


Joan Bell Kaul, Ph.D. has been an Educational Specialist in English with UW's Independent Learning since she arrived in Madison in 1979. In this capacity, she has written and/or revised course guides for Freshman Composition (350-102), History of the English Language (350-324), The Structure of English (350-324/329) The Contemporary Short Story (English 611), and this course. She is also an instructor for many English courses in the Independent Learning program. Since her own life circumstances have often put her at a challenging distance from the major centers of learning, Joan takes pleasure in working with students through distance education.

Transfer Credit

All of our university-level classes are officially part of the University of Wisconsin Transfer Information System, and generally transfer to all UW campuses without difficulty.

To check transfer information for an Independent Learning course, use the credit transfer wizard. For the "FROM" institution choose UW Extension Indp Learn.

If you are planning to use an Independent Learning course to satisfy the requirements of a particular program of study, you should check with that program's office for guidance.

For information on transferring credit to an institution outside the UW system, consult the registrar of that institution.


About Independent Learning

The Independent Learning program at the University of Wisconsin offers self-paced courses in a wide variety of subject areas. You can start any course at any time, and take up to a year to complete each course. Many students find that our courses are accepted as transfer credits to satisfy degree requirements either at the University of Wisconsin or at other institutions.
FAQs: See Frequently Asked Questions about Independent Learning courses.

Costs: The cost of each independent learning course is determined, on a per-credit basis, by the University of Wisconsin System. The cost for university courses is $310 per credit hour, plus a $75.00 administrative fee per course. Full-time students at UW campuses may be eligible for tuition remission. For more information, contact Student Services at 1-877-UW-LEARN (1-877-895-3276).

Handbook: The Student Handbook (PDF) has more information about Independent Learning.

Other Courses: For a complete list of Independent Learning Courses in other areas, see the Independent Learning Course Catalog.



All questions about Independent Learning courses or procedures can be directed to Learner Services toll-free at: 1-877-UW-LEARN or 1-877-895-3276 or by e-mail: