Drama and Theatre Studies

The choice of Drama as an academic pathway usually indicates a sense of commitment, challenge and enthusiasm. The subject offers great opportunities to explore creatively and enjoy being on stage, regardless of a student’s level of experience. Ultimately, Drama will bring out qualities in pupils they did not know they possessed.

The department is based next to the School Theatre and our teaching facilities include the Theatre, Drama classroom and hair and make-up studio. The upgrading of facilities in the theatre and backstage is a constant process in order to provide the most effective rehearsal, green room and storage rooms. Our theatre has a proscenium arch, sound booth and a lighting grid for the stage and auditorium.

Many pupil performances take place in unusual, challenging configurations of the theatre space and also around the College’s extensive grounds. Recent years have seen examples of both traverse and promenade theatre, produced by pupils.

A-Level and GCSE students stage their exam performances for large audiences and with full production values, including stage lighting, sound design, set and costume.  Students are encouraged to explore a wide repertoire, from Greek tragedy to cutting-edge contemporary drama.  Recent exam performances have included extracts from Liz Lochhead's Dracula and John Godber's Teechers (GCSE), and enthusiastically-received one-act versions of Patrick Barlow's The 39 Steps and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (A-Level).

To see some pictures from this year's GCSE and A-Level exam performances, visit our Academic Drama Flickr page here.

To find out more about recent whole school drama productions, take a look at the Drama page in the Beyond the Classroom section.


Head of Department: Miss Karen Hynd, MA (Hons)

Director of Theatre and Performance: Mrs Liz Moss, MA cantab, BA (Hons) Cantab, PGCE



A broad introduction to drama and its techniques, challenges, and its life-enhancing fun.

GCSE Drama allows students to develop strong communication skills which are essential in any working environment. The focus is on group work, collaboration and creativity and students should feel to express themselves in a safe working environment. The qualification develops a basis for their future role as creative leaders in the world of work, as well as for the possible further study of drama. It also allows pupils to actively engage in the process of dramatic study in order to develop as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds.

The Edexcel Drama GCSE consists of two coursework components and one externally examined paper.


Component 1: Devising                                                                                40% of the qualification

● Create and develop a devised piece from stimulus.

● Performance of this devised piece or design realisation for this performance.

● Analyse and evaluate the devising process and performance.


Component 2: Performance                                                                       20% of the qualification

● Students will either perform in and/or design for two key extracts from a performance text.

●  Externally assessed by visiting examiner


Component 3:  Written examination                                                      40% of the qualification

● Practical exploration and study of one complete performance text.

● Choice of eight performance texts.

● Live theatre evaluation. 

The A Level Drama and Theatre Studies specification is designed to provide a balance across a range of learning activities. This specification combines the activities of exploring plays, creating theatre, the performing of plays, the analysis of theatre and the critical evaluation of all of these elements. Students completing the course successfully will have a thorough understanding of drama and theatre, highly toned analytical and creative skills and an ability to communicate effectively with others.

The course is split into three units:

Unit 1: Devising

Unit 2: Text in Performance

Unit 3: Theatre Makers in Practice



Unit 1: This internally assessed unit requires students to devise an original performance piece.

A video/DVD of one session of the practical work must be made available for use in moderation. A portfolio submission of written work must also be included.                          Worth 40% of final grade.


Unit 2: This is an externally assessed unit. The first section requires students to offer either a monologue or duologue. The second section requires students to contribute to a performance of a professionally published play by a known writer.                                                Worth 20% of final grade.


Unit 3: This externally assessed unit takes the form of a 2 hour 30 minute written exam which requires students to explore plays, from a choice of set play texts, from the point of view of a director and a theatre reviewer in both an academic and practical way.        Worth 40% of final grade.



Internal: Unit 1

External: Unit 2 Spring term dependent on moderator, Unit 3 June exam series.


Recommended Entry Requirements

Grade C or above in English - it is possible to enter at A Level without GCSE Drama.


Subject Combinations

All Humanity subjects but has also been combined with Science and Mathematics as a creative balance.


Careers and Higher Education

All universities and degree-awarding institutions recognise Drama and Theatre Studies A Level as a valid qualification. The transferable skills that you will gain through this course will be of use to you even if your career ambitions have nothing to do with Drama. You will develop a problem solving approach to your learning, which should develop your intelligence and your capacity to deal with challenging situations. You will also learn to work well with others. You will be open to active participation in decision making, you will know when to take the lead, and you’ll be used to listening constructively to other people’s ideas.


Purpose of the course

Drama provides opportunities for learners to develop skills creating and presenting drama through the use of complex drama and production skills. The course is practical and experiential. As learners develop practical skills creating and presenting drama, they will also develop knowledge and understanding of cultural and social influences on drama. Learners will analyse and evaluate how the use of self-expression, language and movement can develop their ideas for drama.


Comparison with A Level

Both Higher and A Level courses have very similar components however there is a greater depth and breadth of study at A Level. The Performance components in each course can be carried out from the point of view of an actor, a director or a designer. The weighting at A Level is 20% while it is 60% at Higher. The written examinations for both courses are based on the analysis of text from the point of view of a director and designer, as well as a section on the written analysis of a performance that the learner has seen. The Higher syllabus focuses on one text while the A Level requires two texts and a practitioner to be studied. Both courses require extended answers although there is in depth practitioner knowledge needed for the A Level as this forms part of an extended answer. The weighting of the written examination is 40% at A Level and 40% at Higher.


The courses carry many similarities however the A Level contains a devising component 1 worth 40%, which is not present in the Higher specification.


SQA Higher assessment structure

The SQA Higher Drama is assessed by two components-a question paper and a performance. The terminal question paper is worth 40% and is split into two sections. Section 1 is based on the analysis of a selected text where learners will be required to demonstrate knowledge of a text they have studied in terms of content and the social, historical and/or theatrical context, and to show an understanding of how the text could be communicated to an audience through performance from the perspective of either an actor or director or designer. Section 2 will take the form of a written analysis of a performance that the learner has seen.


The Performance component is also split into two sections: a performance and a preparation for performance. The weighting of marks across the two Sections is 50 marks for the performance in the chosen role of acting, directing or design, and 10 marks for the preparation for performance. This component is worth 60%.