The Department of Theatre and Film Studies, also known as the Robeson School of Dramatics is named after renowned African America actor Paul Robeson. It started as Sub-Department of Dramatic Arts which came into effect after the approval by the Senate at its 138th meeting held on July 6, 1983 in the Continuing Education Centre, UNN. Before this approval, Drama was offered as a stress area for the B.A. English degree in the Department of English. This goes as far back as 1965.
The Dramatic Arts programme, referred to by the founding fathers of the university as the Robeson College of Dramatics, was provided for, building-wise, as one of the pioneer disciplines of the University of Nigeria at its inception in 1960 but because of staffing problems, the discipline was attached for a long time to the Department of English as a stress area. It was not until the 1982/83 academic session that Dramatic Arts was upgraded to a Sub-Department level thereby making it quasi-independent and giving it positive encouragement to run its own programmes and administration. From that time onwards, the Department began to award a degree in Dramatic Arts, and the Co-ordinator of Dramatic Arts became a member of the University Senate. Both the Joint Universities Action Committee (JUAC) 1966, the predecessor of the present-day N.U.C., and the N.U.C have in their separate reports endorsed the Dramatic Arts discipline in the University of Nigeria. The Department achieved a full departmental status in 2004.
The Department of Theatre Arts can boast of a high rate of retention for both staff and students. From an academic strength of 3 in 1981/82 the number rose to 10 in 1983/84 and 14 in 1984/85. Today, we have a total of 10 academic, 3 technical and 3 support (administrative) staff. Correspondingly our student admission rose from 10 in 1983/84 to 95 in 1989/90 academic year to 220 presently. Our graduation figures rose from 3 in 1986/87 to an expected figure of 62 in the present academic year. The current population of postgraduate students is over forty.
The Theatre and Film Studies programme at the University of Nigeria offers four years of formal studies (for JME entrants) and three years (for Direct entry candidates). The programme combines a strong theoretical base with practical technical and management studies. There is an option for industrial attachment but practical work is mandatory within the departmental through dramatic productions for students. Field visits to selected organizations and locations are also undertaken. Theatre Laboratory, a three level course, is used to assess the practical activities of students.
There are nine stress areas indicated by the middle digit of the course numbering. The stress areas are as follows:
- Foundations and History Research Methods
- Dramatic Theory, Literature and Criticism
- Technical Theater
- Theater in EducationChildren’s Theatre
- Comparative DramaTheatre
- Film Studies
- Applied/Interactive/Community Theatre
Below is a summary of the profile of the Department
NAME OF DEPARTMENT: Theatre and Film Studies
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT: 1983
NUMBER OF STAFF SINCE 1982: 32
NUMBER OF STAFF CURRENTLY: 29
STUDENTS’ PUPLATION SINCE 1983: 2453
CURRENT STUDENTS’ POPULATION: 320
DEAN FACULTY OF ARTS
|Head, Dept. of Department|
|Board of TFS|
|Principal Tech. Instructor1|
|Technical Instructors 2|
|Students Association Executives|
The Department of Theatre and Film Studies is headed by an academic of international repute. He represents the Department in the Committee of Heads of Department in the Faculty of Arts as well as in the University Senate like other Heads of Department in the University.
(b) Staff and Decision-making/General Administration:
Members of staff of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies are involved in the decision making process of the Department through the Board of Theatre and Film Studies of which all teaching personnel are members. The Board of Theatre and Film Studies makes all the important decisions regarding the academic programme and standards of this academic unit. Staff members get involved in the general administration of the programme through the committee system. Members of staff elect both the chairmen of Committees as well as members of the committees. The committees include the following: Postgraduate, Curriculum, Research Grants, Appraisals, Time table, Examinations, Production, Purchasing, and Welfare Committees.
(c) Staff Development:
The University has a long-standing policy on staff development and this has benefited many staff of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. The study-leave policy allows staff who desire to work for higher degrees in local or foreign universities to do so. The sabbatical policy permits long-serving staff to take a year off and go to other universities or institutions to improve themselves further. The department has a policy of allowing the junior academics to take precedence over the senior ones in the study-leave implementation. The programme of study leave with pay does not stop with academics but extends to technical staff as well.
On the departmental level, there is a welfare committee which deals with the welfare needs of staff and students. The aim is to create the spirit of togetherness and unity as a family.
The Department of Theatre and Film Studies is noted for its interest in its students. As a result, students take part in departmental productions, and assist the department in the development of existing infrastructure, if need be.
- Academic Advising:
This is carried out by an Academic staff to who a group of students, usually in the same year of study, is assigned. The academic staff advises the students on required courses, credit load (minimum/maximum), elective/ancillary courses, adding/dropping of courses, course schedules etc. Any student with an academic problem goes through his/her staff adviser to the Head of Department who forwards the departmental recommendation to the University Registrar. For greater effectiveness, the department prefers that a particular academic adviser, whose advising relationship with a particular class is considered excellent by the Board of Theatre and Film Studies, should continue with that class during the next academic year.
Theatre and Film Studies Students Association:
The welfare of the students is further enhanced through their membership of the Theatre and Film Studies Students Association (TAFSSA). Every student in the department belongs to this Association, and through it the students are affiliated to Faculty and University-wide students’ bodies.
The Association usually organizes its independent programmes like Theatre productions, etc. through which they raise money for the welfare of individual students of the association. They have used this method to help indigent students as well as contribute their quota to the development of the department.
Academic staff are responsible for setting and marking of examinations in courses taught by them. The departmental examinations committee moderates the questions set to ensure that standards are maintained. Marking are internally moderated by competent colleagues appointed to do so. For final year (degree) courses the External Examiner further moderates the scripts before a final grade is awarded. Students in the examination hall conduct themselves according to the stipulated regulations for the conduct of examinations as contained in the university’s “Academic Regulations” which stipulates of the continuous assessment grade and the grade obtained in the examination. The NUC ration regarding the theoretical and practical courses is faithfully followed by the department.
Results of final year (degree) candidates are issued by the Registrar after approval by the University Senate. For students in other years, their results are sent to the Faculty Dean and the University Registrar while the Department publishes the results on the notice boards identifying the candidates by their registration numbers only.
Apart from having a group of students to advice, staff are encouraged to further seek rapport with students in the individual courses they teach and by so doing encourage positive academic atmosphere. Students know good teachers who are genuinely interested in imparting the knowledge they profess and others who talk down on them and discourage them.
The department organizes regular students-staff fora during which ideas are exchanged, questions are asked, and answers correctly given. The department also encourages students and staff to participate during departmental/faculty seminars, guest lectures, and symposia. All these innovations generate a healthy academic relationship amongst students and staff and encourage the pursuit of higher academic standards.