From Broadway to the West End - The Story of the Musical


Musicals such as Show Boat, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Les Misérables (the longest running West End musical in history) and The Phantom of the Opera (the longest running Broadway musical in history) are part of the Western musical theatre tradition.

This course will examine that tradition, starting from its origins in various forms of 19th century musical theatre, but concentrating on the repertory from Showboat onwards. We will look at stylistic developments as musicals start to take on more controversial social topics and examine the impact of technology, such as radio microphones, on the modern musical.

Programme details

Courses starts: 18 Apr 2023

Week 0: Course orientation

Week 1: Origins and Musicals of the 20s and 30s 

Week 2: George and Ira Gershwin - Porgy and Bess

Week 3: Musicals in the 40s

Week 4: The early musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein

Week 5: The later musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein

Week 6: Musicals in the 50s

Week 7: Musicals in the 60s

Week 8: Sondheim as composer and librettist

Week 9: The musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Week 10: Musicals from the 80s to the present day


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Miss Claire-Louise Lucas

Claire-Louise Lucas is a professional mezzo-soprano and a part-time music tutor. She lectures on opera and song for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.  She has lectured on singing in conservatoires and other universities in the UK and the USA.

Claire-Louise has performed extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the USA, including an appearance as a soloist in the Salzburg Easter Festival with Maurizio Pollini and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Claudio Abbado.  Other recent performances include concerts at Gloucester Cathedral; Christ Church Cathedral; Salisbury Cathedral; Southampton University; the Leominster Festival and the Brighton Festival. 

Course aims

To examine the history of the Musical in the 20th century to the present day.

Course objectives

1. To give a brief background of the major composers and librettists.

2. To examine the major works in the genre.

3. To trace the changes the genre has undergone in the past century.


Teaching methods

Part of the course will be delivered using pre-recorded lectures.

The course will be illustrated by audio and video extracts. All visual illustrations, including scores, opera texts, video and DVD extracts will be shared during our live sessions. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. list the major composers and librettists of the musical;

2. identify the major musicals in each period;

3. have an understanding of the changes that the genre has undergone.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course will be through the completion of four short assignments that will assist the students to consolidate the knowledge that they have gained in class.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


Each course will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)