GCSE Drama & Theatre Studies


Think YOU could convincingly hold your own in a ‘street fight’? Build a giant puppet from everyday objects and items of clothing – and then bring it to ‘life’? These are just some of the challenges that GCSE Drama Students had to meet during this year’s course.
GCSE Drama remains one of the most popular option choices for students at Ashbourne – and a quick look at what they pack into their year could explain why:

This year alone, students experienced diverse aspects of theatre, from having a professional ‘stage combat’ instructor guide them through some exciting stage fighting sequences to watching such varied West End shows as ‘The Woman In Black’ (ghostly thriller) to ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ (comedy) and ‘Treasure Island’ (adventure / fantasy) at the National Theatre. They performed their own devised work during the annual Ashbourne Revue, and covered excitingly different styles of theatre, from Stanislavski (the godfather of acting!!) and naturalism to physical theatre and ensemble storytelling with dynamic contemporary groups such as ‘Frantic Assembly’ and ‘Complicite[acute accent on ‘e’]’. Studying these practitioners has seen students creating their own dance sections, leaping over/ around / through their set in devising physical theatre pieces, to rising to the challenge of creating huge ‘puppets’ from various everyday items and pieces of clothing! It’s safe to say, Drama is challenging but never dull!


Why study Drama at GCSE?

There are many reasons that Drama is a good choice of subject as it develops skills in so many areas – all of which help feed into other subjects too. Working together in groups develops interpersonal and cooperative skills, while performances and design presentations help build confidence. These are key assets in any future occupation, as we will ALL have to learn how to present ourselves well and articulately, work with others and ensure our ideas are heard / considered, in the increasingly competitive environment of the world today.

All 3 Modules that comprise the GCSE have a Coursework section – and the drafting and finalising of this ensures that your written skills keep evolving and developing, which then feeds directly into other subjects such as English.

Many people assume that you have to be a great ‘actor’ or performer in order to do well in this subject – but the truth is it actually requires and develops a far broader range of skills, from creative writing to those with an artistic aspect!

Students can choose to work as devisers (creating / writing scenes or monologues), directors (overseeing the creative impact of a piece) or designers (enhancing practical work with costume / music /set design ideas).

It’s not just about the acting! It’s learning to rise to the challenge of working to deadlines, working with others – and building your own personal confidence beyond what you perhaps thought possible!

Perhaps as important as all the various personal and academic enhancements that Drama can help with, it’s worth pointing out that it’s also fun – which helps ensure students find it easy to stay engaged and focused throughout the course!

Which syllabus do we follow?

The GCSE syllabus for Drama and Theatre Studies at Ashbourne is Edexcel.

How many components are there?

There are three components in total for GCSE Drama.

Component 1Component 2Component 3

Component 1: Devising

60 marks, 40% of the total GCSE marks

This unit is internally examined at the end of the first term. Students prepare a piece of devised drama developed from a stimulus and also complete two additional elements such as costume, set design, sound design or writing a monologue. Students may choose to perform, devise or follow a design option. Students may choose to write their working record or make a presentation to camera.

  • 15 marks performance
  • 45 marks working record

Component 2: Performance from Text

Coursework 20% of the qualification – 48 marks

48 marks, 20% of the total GCSE marks

This unit is internally examined at the end of the second term. Students can work individually, in a pair, or in a group, to create a performance of a selected section of text. Students may choose to perform or follow a design option. Students may choose to write their working record or make a presentation to camera.

Component 3 : Theatre Makers in Practice

Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes

60 marks, 40% of the total GCSE marks

This unit is externally examined at the end of the third term. Students will sit a written exam split into two sections. Section A, “Bringing Texts to Life”, is a question broken into six parts, based on an extract from a chosen play, and is worth 45 marks. Section B, “Live Theatre Evaluation”, is made up of two questions requiring students to analyse and evaluate a play that they have seen.

How is each unit examined?

We cover three separate modules in GCSE Drama, one being examined each term. This means that the pressure of passing the subject in a one-off exam is lifted, as you accumulate your grade as you go through the course.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Fran Burns
Bachelor of Arts, (University of Liverpool)

Ashbourne College London Drama and Theatre Studies teacher - Frances Burns

As well as being Deputy of Middle School and a Drama Teacher at Ashbourne, for many years Fran has also been a practitioner in both Mindfulness and Meditation techniques and a senior facilitator for one of the country’s leading Arts Educational companies, helping to deliver specialist programmes in Student Health & Wellbeing and various PSHE issues.  All of this was excellent preparation for the next step in becoming the new DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead) for the college. Fran has a genuine belief in students feeling truly supported in all the aspects of their lives that can impact on their ability to reach their potential.  She is a committed advocate of supporting young people so that they develop the skills and techniques that allow them to be proactive in their own wellbeing, whether academically, emotionally or socially. She is delighted to be the DSL for Ashbourne.

Fran Bushe
MA Acting (Arts Educational School), BA English (UCL), PGCE Education (University of Cambridge)

Ashbourne College London Drama and Theatre Studies teacher - Frances Bushe

Frances Bushe has an MA in Acting and qualified to teach Drama at the University of Cambridge. She is a prize-winning playwright, filmmaker and an award-nominated performer. She has experience of training in America and also taking successful productions to the Edinburgh Fringe. Frances is a skilled improviser and is trained in stage combat.


Beyond GCSE for Drama Students

Many of our GCSE Drama students have gone on to study A-Level Drama at Ashbourne and Drama at University. Drama students gain creative and analytical skills, preparing them to study a wide range of subjects such as: English Language and Literature, Psychology, Film Studies, Music and other humanities. Students will also develop public speaking skills, confidence, social skills and leadership qualities.

GCSE Drama is beneficial for a wide range of career choices, including performing, directing, teaching, charity and humanitarian work, management, law and medicine. EFL students will have copious opportunities to practise and develop their English Language skills.


  • Arabian Nights, by Dominic Cooke
  • The Ash Girl, by Timberlake Wertenbaker
  • DNA, by Dennis Kelly
  • The Mouse and his Child, by Russell Hoban