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AQA 8261 (9-1)

The GCSE Drama course is very practical. You will learn to collaborate with others and to communicate your ideas with confidence. You will develop your skills as a performer and a theatre maker and learn how to apply these to create your own original performance work. You will work in small groups to create and perform in a number of different pieces of theatre, both scripted and devised. You will explore how meaning is interpreted and communicated through live theatre and you will learn to analyse and evaluate what makes a successful piece of performance. You will also develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of different theatre makers in contemporary professional practice, such as designers and directors. You will develop as a creative, effective, independent and reflective student who is able to make informed choices in process and performance; you will gain confidence in your abilities as a communicator, a performer and a theatre maker.

Course content

Throughout the course you will take part in practical workshops to develop your skills and to introduce you to different styles of theatre. You will learn to interpret text and collaborate in small groups to develop your own performance work from a script. You will also learn how to successfully devise original theatre inspired by a stimulus. You will study a set text and learn to interpret and write about it from the perspective of performer, director and designer. You will also study at least one professional live theatre performance and develop the skills to analyse and evaluate in writing how particular effects were created for an audience. In the final year of the course you will perform two assessed pieces of performance work: a piece of devised theatre for which you will keep a written log documenting the creation and development of your ideas and evaluating your contribution to the piece; and two short extracts from a published play. For both of these tasks you will collaborate with a group to develop your ideas into a polished piece of theatre and perform with sound, lighting, props and, where appropriate, set and costumes.

As part of the course you will be invited to attend a number of live theatre visits in order to further enrich your own performance work. At least one of these trips will be compulsory as it is a course requirement for Drama students to see live theatre.


This is a linear course and all assessments will take place in the final year.

Component 1: Understanding Drama

Written exam: 1 hour and 45 minutes (40% of GCSE)

At the end of the course you will sit a written exam in which you will answer questions on the set text and the live theatre performance you have studied. You will also answer questions that demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre terms.

Component 2: Devising Drama (40% of GCSE)

You will collaborate as part of a group to create a piece of devised performance. Throughout the devising process you will complete a written log to document the creative process and to evaluate your personal contribution to the piece as a whole. Your teachers will mark your final performance and the accompanying devising log; these marks will be externally moderated by AQA.

Component 3: Texts in Practice (20% of GCSE)

You will explore two extracts from a chosen text and you will perform these to a visiting examiner who will mark your final performance.

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Further opportunities

GCSE Drama will help you to develop a number of highly useful transferable skills that will serve you well, whatever direction your future studies take you. You will spend much of the course working as part of a team which will help develop your ability to collaborate. You will develop the necessary language skills to communicate your ideas and opinions and you will become much more confident presenting your work and your ideas in front of an audience.

Drama GCSE national theatre photo