GCSE Drama - AQA (8261)

Why Drama?

Studying Drama encourages pupils to critically assess not only theatre, but also media, films and the images that they are constantly bombarded with. It allows pupils to analytically engage with a wide variety of sources, whilst exploring elements integral to communication and performance. It is a dynamic practice that encourages pupils to understand empathy and identification, whilst increasing their cultural awareness and self-esteem. Drama can be a good basis for a career not only in the theatre, but in law, advertising, marketing, the film industry and events planning, among many others.

In a recent survey of 500 senior management professionals conducted by the Global Strategy Group, the most sought-after skills in new employees are problem-solving (49% ranked it No. 1), collaboration (43%), and critical thinking (36%). Also in demand is the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, both orally and in writing (31%). A GCSE in Drama shows prospective employers that the candidate possesses all of these skills.

GCSE Drama

GCSE Drama provides pupils with a solid foundation in creative, practical and performance skills. Pupils are encouraged to engage in and actively explore a wide range of activities that are stimulating and creative, drawing from a variety of situations and contexts that they can relate to. It encourages pupils to develop critical thinking skills and become effective and independent learners. The course inevitably covers all sorts of transferable skills that will be useful throughout life: communication, presentation/public speaking, group and leadership skills, problem solving, time management, initiative and the ability to work to a deadline and get a performance right first time.

Pupils will be required to display a high level of commitment to the subject and to each other. In the practical components pupils may specialise in performing, lighting, sound, set, costume or puppets.

The subject content for GCSE Drama is divided into three components:

  1. Understanding drama
  2. Devising drama
  3. Texts in practice 

Component 1:

Understanding drama

Component 2:

Devising drama (practical)

Component 3:

Texts in practice (practical)

What is assessed?
  • Knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre
  • Study of one set play from a choice of six.
  • Analysis and evaluation of the work of live theatre makers.


  • Process of creating devised drama.
  • Performance of devised drama (students may contribute as performer or designer).
  • Analysis and evaluation of own work.


  • Performance of two extracts from one play. Free choice of play but it must contrast with the set play chosen for Component 1.

How it is assessed?

  • Written exam: 1hr 45mins
  • Open book
  • 80 marks
  • 40% of GCSE
  • Devising log (60 marks)
  • Devised performance (20 marks)
  • 80 marks in total
  • 40% of GCSE
  • Performance of Extract 1 (20 marks) and Extract 2 (20 marks)
  • 40 marks in total
  • 20% of GCSE
  • Section A: multiple choice (4 marks).
  • Section B: four questions on a  given extract from the set play chosen (44 marks)
  • Section C: one question (from a choice) on the work of theatre makers in a single live theatre production (32 marks).
  • This component is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA.
  • This component is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA.