Scheme of assessment

Find past papers and mark schemes, and specimen papers for new courses, on our website at aqa.org.uk/pastpapers

This specification is designed to be taken over two years.

This is a linear qualification. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all assessments at the end of the course and in the same series.

A-level exams and certification for this specification are available for the first time in May/June 2018 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.

All materials are available in English only.

Aims

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • develop and apply an informed, analytical framework for making, performing, interpreting and understanding drama and theatre
  • understand the place of relevant theoretical research in informing the processes and practices involved in creating theatre and the place of practical exploration in informing theoretical knowledge of drama and theatre
  • develop an understanding and appreciation of how social, cultural and historical contexts of performance texts have influenced the development of drama and theatre
  • understand the practices used in 21st century theatre making
  • experience a range of opportunities to create theatre both published text-based and devised work
  • participate as a theatre maker and as an audience member in live theatre
  • understand and experience the collaborative relationship between various roles within theatre
  • develop and demonstrate a range of theatre making skills
  • develop the creativity and independence to become effective theatre makers
  • adopt safe working practices as a theatre maker
  • analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

Assessment components

Component 1: Drama and theatre

This component is a written exam in which students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed (AO3) and on their ability to analyse and evaluate the live theatre work of others (AO4).

The paper constitutes 40% of the A-level.

Students have 3 hours to answer the paper. The paper is divided into three compulsory sections:

  • Section A: Drama through the ages
  • Section B: 20th and 21st century drama
  • Section C: Live theatre production.

In the exam students are expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the subject content.

See Knowledge and understanding for details. In their answers for Section A and Section B students should:

  • support their creative ideas with close reference to the text
  • support design questions with sketches and/or diagrams
  • include reference to the social, cultural or historical context of their selected play where the instruction is given to do so
  • note the guidance on the exam paper about what constitutes a 'section' of the play.

There are three prohibited play combinations for the exam: students must not answer on both Butterworth’s Jerusalem from List A and Teale’s Brontë, Gurira’s The Convert, or Ellams’ Three Sisters from List B. This is because these texts were written at a similar time.

Section A: Drama through the ages

In Section A students answer one essay question (from a choice) on one of the set plays listed in List A below (in place from 2018 onwards).

Specific editions are not prescribed for these plays. However, we've listed the editions we use to set questions.

If you wish to use a different edition, we recommend you source a copy of the one we use to make sure it's similar. This will enable your students to access the questions on the paper. Adaptations are not appropriate.

List A – these plays have been selected to represent significant drama through the ages.

Playwright List A set play
Sophocles Antigone (The Three Theban Plays, translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin, 1984, ISBN: 0140444254)
William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing (ed Claire McEachern, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2016, ISBN: 1472520297)
Carlo Goldoni A Servant to Two Masters (ed Lee Hall, Methuen Drama, 1999, ISBN 0413748502)
Henrik Ibsen Hedda Gabler (Student Edition, Bloomsbury, 2002, ISBN: 0413770702)
Bertolt Brecht The Caucasian Chalk Circle (ed Eric Bentley, Penguin, 2007, ISBN: 0141189169)
Dario Fo Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Methuen Drama, 1987, ISBN: 0413156109)
Jez Butterworth Jerusalem (Nick Hern Books, 2009, ISBN: 1848420501)

The focus of the questions is interpretation of specific aspects of the play adopting the perspective of a performer, designer or director as appropriate to the question.

Section A is marked out of 25.

Students are permitted to refer to a clean copy of their chosen play during the exam. This must not be annotated and must not contain any additional notes, marks, alterations or inclusions.

Students must not answer Section A or Section B of the exam on the same play they answer on for Section C ie the live production seen cannot be one of their set plays.

Section B: 20th and 21st century drama

In Section B students answer three compulsory parts of one question on a given extract from one of the set plays from List B below (in place from 2018 onwards).

List B – these plays have been selected to represent 20th and 21st century drama.

Specific editions are prescribed for these texts.

PlaywrightList B set play
Federico García LorcaYerma (Methuen Student Editions – ISBN: 978-0713683264)
Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie (Penguin Books – ISBN: 978-0141190266)
Steven BerkoffMetamorphosis (in Three Theatre Adaptations from Franz Kafka, Amber Lane Press – ISBN: 978-0906399842)
Caryl ChurchillCloud Nine (in Plays: 1, Methuen Drama – ISBN: 978-0413566706)
Timberlake WertenbakerOur Country's Good (Methuen Student Editions – ISBN: 978-0413692306)
Polly TealeBrontë (Nick Hern Books – ISBN: 978-1848421707)
Danai GuriraThe Convert (Methuen Drama, 2022, ISBN: 9781350340879)
Inua Ellams

Three Sisters (A new play after Chekhov) (Methuen Drama, ISBN: 978-1-35026278-2)

The focus of the questions is how the extract might be interpreted in performance to create meaning for an audience.

The first part of the question is to be answered from the perspective of director, the second part of the question is to be answered from the perspective of performer and the third part of the question is to be answered from the perspective of designer (lighting, sound, set, costume).

Section B is marked out of 30 in total; 10 marks for each part of the question.

Students are permitted to refer to a clean copy of their chosen play during the exam.

This must not be annotated and must not contain any additional notes, marks, alterations or inclusions.

Students must not answer Section A or Section B of the exam on the same play they answer on for Section C ie the live production seen cannot be one of their set plays.

Section C: Live theatre production

In Section C students answer one essay question (from a choice) on the work of theatre makers in a single live production they have experienced as an audience member as part of their course.

Students are required to demonstrate their understanding of how theatre makers collaborate to create theatre, communicating meaning to an audience through choices of form, style and convention.

They are expected to refer to particular moments within the production.

They should be able to discuss a variety of aspects of one production seen giving a personal analysis and evaluation of the theatrical elements that contributed to its total effectiveness.

Students are assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the subject content detailed in Knowledge and understanding as well as their analytical and evaluative skills.

Section C is marked out of 25.

Students must not answer Section A or Section B of the exam on the same play they answer on for Section C ie the live production seen cannot be one of their set plays.

Component 2: Creating original drama

This is a practical component in which students are assessed on their ability to create and develop ideas to communicate meaning as part of the theatre making process making connections between dramatic theory and practice (AO1) and apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance (AO2).

Component 2 constitutes 30% of the A-level.

It is marked by teachers and moderated by AQA.

For this component, students must complete two assessment tasks:

  • produce an individual Working notebook documenting the devising process
  • contribute to a final devised, group performance.

The Working notebook is marked out of 40.

Each student's contribution to the final devised performance is marked out of 20.

Guidance on devising

The stimulus/stimuli for the devised piece must be chosen by students.

There is no restriction on the subject matter that forms the basis of students’ devising work. For example the starting point for the piece might be:
  • from literature or art
  • an adaptation of a poem, a folk tale, a newspaper story
  • theme-based or focused on an historical event
  • wholly original
  • intended to educate the audience, to express a political viewpoint, to be serious or comical.

The devised piece must be informed by the work and methodologies of one of the prescribed theatre practitioners on our set list (see Prescribed practitioners).

Each student must choose a different practitioner to that chosen for Component 3.

Performers and directors in the same group must select the same practitioner. Designers may select different practitioners. All practitioner choices must be compatible.

It is important that the content of the devised work is entirely in line with the dramatic intentions of the chosen practitioner(s) whose methodology has been adopted.

Specialisms

Students must choose to be assessed as a:

  • performer or
  • lighting designer or
  • sound designer or
  • set designer or
  • costume designer or
  • puppet designer or
  • director.

Costume designers may choose to include make-up and/or hair and/or masks. Set designers may choose to include design of props.

Each student must choose one specialism only for this component. They are assessed in relation to this specialism for both the Working notebook and devised performance.

Requirements in relation to the number of students per specialism are as follows:

Specialism Requirement for each performance
Performer Between two and six students
Lighting designer Maximum of one student
Sound designer Maximum of one student
Set designer Maximum of one student
Costume designer Maximum of one student
Puppet designer Maximum of one student
Director Maximum of one student

In the case of only two students entering, both students must nominate themselves as performer.

Cross-sex casting is permitted.

Students must apply their chosen specialism as follows:
Specialism chosen Requirement
Performer Must perform one character1
Lighting designer Must create one lighting design
Sound designer Must create one sound design
Set designer Must create one set design
Costume designer Must create one costume design for one performer
Puppet designer Must create one puppet design
Director Must direct the devised piece

1Or more than one if appropriate to the subject matter and performance style of the piece.

Teachers must ensure that students have the opportunity to take an equal and active part in the creative and collaborative process regardless of their chosen specialism.

Each pair/group is to be self-contained and totally responsible for all aspects of the devised work, which should seek to realise clear artistic intentions for an audience.

All designs must be assessed in live performance:
  • For lighting designers the lights and lighting effects must be seen in the live performance.
  • For sound designers the sound and sound effects must be heard in the live performance.
  • For set designers the set seen in the live performance should follow the student's design.
  • For costume designers the costume designed must be worn in the live performance by the relevant character.
  • For puppet designers the puppet(s) designed must be a part of the live performance.

Design students are not assessed on their ability to operate equipment associated with their design.

Therefore although all students are encouraged to develop their theatrical skills to their full potential the following applies:
  • Lighting designers are not required to operate the lighting equipment in the live performance.
  • Sound designers are not required to operate the sound equipment in the live performance.
  • Set designers are not assessed on the set's construction.
  • Costume designers are not assessed on the costume's construction.
  • Puppet designers are not assessed on the puppet's construction and need not be the puppet operators during the live performance.

Assessors must assess the design and not its execution.

Designs should be realised in performance to the full extent possible within any practical constraints.

Design students must work to support performers (and director where applicable) and create a design which supports and enhances the live performance work. Students should have an awareness of how their design will impact on the live performance as a whole.

The Working notebook

Each student is required to complete a Working notebook documenting and exploring the creation, development and refinement of their ideas during the devising process.

Students should illustrate the ways in which they have made connections between theory and practice throughout including:
  • research they have undertaken and how this has informed their decision making
  • ways in which they have applied the work and methodologies of their selected practitioner
  • relevant experiences of live theatre production and how these have influenced them in the shaping and development of their piece.

The Working notebook is divided into two sections, each marked out of 20 marks:

  • Section 1: Rationale and research

  • Section 2: Development and refinement.

Section 1: Rationale and research

In this section students should define their inspiration for the devised piece and document their influences.

They should outline their personal dramatic aims and objectives and those agreed upon by the devising group.

Students must include:

  • the rationale for their starting point
  • an explanation of their dramatic influences, including the influences they have drawn from their research, their chosen practitioner and live theatre productions they have experienced
  • an explanation of the stylistic and contextual factors they have taken into account
  • an explanation of their individual dramatic aims and intentions, identifying the connections they have made between theory and practice
  • an explanation of the dramatic aims and intentions of the piece, identifying the connections they have made between theory and practice.
Section 2: Development and refinement

In this section students should explain how they developed and refined their work during the devising process, reflecting on their decision making along the way.

They should demonstrate how theory has informed their practical work.

Students should contrast the outcome of the final piece with their original aims and intentions, identifying how and why these changed during the devising process.

Students must include:

  • an explanation of the approach they have taken in devising the piece
  • an explanation of their collaborative and independent decision making in relation to their evolving ideas, detailing how these ideas were experimented with, developed and refined during the devising process. Students should identify how these ideas connect theory and practice.
  • an explanation of the decisions they have made in relation to the application of their theatrical skills, detailing how these skills were developed and refined in the context of devising
  • an explanation of their final ideas for the devised performance, identifying how these ideas connect theory and practice
  • a comparison of the outcome of the final devised performance with the initial aims and intentions for the piece, identifying key areas of change and how the devising process has shaped these changes.
Assessment evidence

The Working notebook evidence presented for assessment must be the student's own work.

Details of admissible evidence types for the Working notebook can be found below:

Evidence for the Working notebook must be one of the following:Suggested length per sectionThe Working notebook must not exceed in total (evidence beyond this must not count towards the mark)
Entirely written800–1,200 words3,000 words
Written accompanied by:
  • annotated photographs and/or
  • annotated sketches/drawings and/or
  • annotated cue-sheets.
4–7 A4 pages20 sides of A4 including no more than 3,000 words
Written accompanied by audio/visual/audiovisual recording(s)

400–600 words

4–6 minutes

2,000 words

15 minutes

Entirely audio/visual/audiovisual recording(s)6–8 minutes20 minutes

Details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

Supervising students

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times whilst they are completing their Working notebook. However there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

The devised performance

Each student is required to contribute to a devised duologue or devised group piece.

The assessed performance for this component cannot be a devised monologue.

Type Performance duration
Duologue (two performers) Must be between five and ten minutes
Group performance (three or more performers) Must be between six and thirty minutes

For group performances playing time for each performance should reflect the number of performance students in the group. For example a group with six performance students should work to the upper time limit.

Teachers are required to ensure minimum performance times are met.

If a student’s performance does not meet the required duration a penalty is applied to the mark (the size of the penalty depends on the severity of the timing infringement). It may also result in schools or colleges being investigated for maladministration.

Assessment evidence

The performances/designs presented for assessment must be the student’s own work.

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

Programme notes

Teachers must provide programme notes for the moderator stating the title of the piece and the name of the practitioner selected for devising.

The programme notes must include photographs of each student so that each student is clearly identifiable to the moderator.

The programme notes must also state each student’s chosen specialism.

In addition each student must offer a statement of their individual dramatic intentions to justify their theatrical choices.

The Statement of Dramatic Intentions must be completed by the student on the template AQA provides. This statement is not assessed directly but should be used to support assessment. Assessment must not take place without reference to the student’s Statement of Dramatic Intentions.

Recording

Assessed performances must be recorded with a single camera from an audience perspective from start to finish and be unedited.

Each student being assessed must identify themselves by name and candidate number at the start of the recording.

Students must also state their chosen specialism.

Close-ups of set, costume and puppet design students’ work must be included at the beginning of the recording.

Full details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Supervising students

It is expected that during the rehearsal process teachers will support students through the provision of workshops.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must not direct the performance under any circumstances and must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

For authentication, regular monitoring should be undertaken by the teacher so that the work is seen at each developmental stage.

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times during performance preparation but there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers are not permitted to provide any guidance to students whilst the assessed performance is being carried out.

Other requirements

Each performance must be carried out in live performance conditions and ideally under stage lighting. There is no requirement upon students to present the devised piece within a full production context ie with full set and costume.

All performance preparation and the live performance itself must be carried out in a setting which has been formally risk assessed and deemed safe.

The performance space should enable students to fulfill their chosen specialism as much as possible.

Students should be aware of health and safety factors as they relate to both their chosen specialism and the performance piece as a whole.

Non-examinees are permitted to perform alongside performance candidates, but only where absolutely necessary in order to make the group size up to the minimum of performers. They must be students not staff.

Technical support may be provided to design students. This may be by non-examinee students or staff.

Component 3: Making theatre

This is a practical component in which students are assessed on their ability to apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance (AO2) and analyse and evaluate their own work (AO4).

Component 3 constitutes 30% of the A-level.

It is marked by AQA.

For this component students must practically explore (workshop) and interpret three key extracts each from a different play and complete two assessment tasks:

  • formally present Extract 3 to an audience
  • produce an individual Reflective report analysing and evaluating their theatrical interpretation of all three key extracts studied.

Each student's contribution to the performance of Extract 3 is marked out of 40.

Their Reflective report is marked out of 20.

For the performance of Extract 3 students must apply the work and methodologies of one of the prescribed theatre practitioners on our set list (see Prescribed practitioners).

Performers and directors in the same group must select the same practitioner. Designers may select different practitioners. All practitioner choices must be compatible.

Students should seek to ensure that their work is fully consonant with the intentions and methods of the selected practitioner(s).

Only Extract 3 must have a prescribed practitioner applied.

Extract 1 and Extract 2 may have:

  • no practitioner applied
  • the same practitioner applied
  • a different practitioner applied.

Guidance on key extracts

Students are required to practically explore (workshop) and interpret three key extracts (Extract 1, Extract 2 and Extract 3) each from a different play.

Extract 1, Extract 2 and Extract 3 must be taken from a different play and understood in the context of the whole play.

The three plays chosen must:

  • each have been professionally commissioned or professionally produced
  • as a whole be a minimum of 35 minutes in duration if performed in full
  • offer interpretive opportunities for performers, designers and directors
  • be rich and of substance in terms of content, context, theme and/or characterisation
  • offer an appropriate level of theatrical challenge to students at A-level
  • be deemed age-appropriate by the Head of Centre who must submit a declaration to AQA confirming that he/she has approved the plays chosen for practical study
  • be different plays from those set plays studied by the student for Component 1
  • not be similar to each other in terms of their social, cultural and historical context
  • not contravene the prohibited play combinations below.

Teachers must ensure that all students have sufficient opportunity to demonstrate their chosen specialism (to enable them to access the full range of marks).

Prohibited play combinations for Component 3

Set play studied for Component 1 (List A)Student must not study any other play that is:
AntigoneClassical Greek tragedy
Much Ado About NothingElizabethan comedy
The Servant of Two MastersCommedia dell’Arte
Hedda Gabler19th-century naturalistic tragedy
The Caucasian Chalk CirclePost World War II epic
Accidental Death of an Anarchist20th-century political farce
Jerusalem21st-century anarchic realism
Set play studied for Component 1 (List B)Student must not study any other play that is:
Yerma Early 20th-century Spanish tragedy
The Glass Menagerie 20th-century American memory play
Metamorphosis 20th-century expressionism
Cloud Nine20th-century political parody
Our Country's Good Historicisation
Brontë 21st-century feminist drama
The Convert21st-century post-colonial naturalism
Three Sisters21st-century adaptation of a classic

Schools/colleges must seek AQA approval of their play choices by submitting a Play Approval Form directly to their allocated AQA AS/A-level NEA (non-exam assessment) adviser. Teachers must seek approval well in advance of the visitng exam date in case they are not approved. All play approval forms must be submitted by 31 January at the latest.

Play choice approval is an essential part of the specification. Failure to seek timely approval will be treated as maladministration and failure to gain timely approval may result in delays to the assessment taking place.

If your school/college is new to teaching this specification, please contact AQA to be allocated an AQA NEA Adviser.

The key extracts chosen must be significant to the play as a whole ie pivotal to plot, character(s) or theme(s).

The key extracts chosen must be continuous and individually last at least 10 minutes in duration if the full extract were to be performed.

Students can perform an abridged version of the key extract if needed (to provide a coherent performance within the minimum performance times stated) but the wording itself must not be modified.

We advise the following steps to choose the key extracts:

Step 1: Choose a play (adhering to the requirements above) and start to explore the play practically.

Step 2: Focus on one section of the play. The section must be substantial, which is defined as taking at least 10 minutes to perform if performed. Large groups will need to study a longer section (see Step 3). Students should study the section chosen in depth, taking time to thoroughly explore and interpret it.

Step 3: Identify how much of the section needs to be performed to meet the relevant AQA minimum performance time. The minimum performance time varies depending on the number of performers in the group. If the group is large, collectively the group is likely to need to perform the whole section they have studied (which may have needed to have been more than the minimum 10 minutes, see Step 2). If the performance is to be a monologue, the performer will only need to perform part of the section they have studied.

Step 4: Repeat for two other plays.

Students are not required to perform the full key extract for assessment but all three key extracts must be explored practically in their entirety during the course.

NEA Advisers are able to provide guidance about the selection and use of key extracts.

Specialisms

For each key extract the student must choose to be assessed as a:

  • performer or
  • lighting designer or
  • sound designer or
  • set designer or
  • costumer designer or
  • puppet designer or
  • director.

Costume designers may choose to include make-up and/or hair and/or masks. Set designers may choose to include design of props.

They may choose the same specialism or different specialisms for each key extract studied.

They may choose the same or different specialism(s) to the specialism they chose for Component 2.

Requirements in relation to number of students per specialism are as follows:

Specialism Requirement
Performer Between one and six students
Lighting designer Maximum of one student
Sound designer Maximum of one student
Set designer Maximum of one student
Costume designer Maximum of one student
Puppet designer Maximum of one student
Director Maximum of one student

In the case of only one student entering, this student must nominate himself/herself as performer.

Cross-sex casting is permitted.

Students must apply their chosen specialism as follows:

Specialism chosen Requirement
Performer Must perform one character/interpret one role2
Lighting designer Must create one lighting design
Sound designer Must create one sound design
Set designer Must create one set design
Costume designer Must create one costume design for one performer
Puppet designer Must create one puppet design
Director Must direct the extract

2Or more than one role if appropriate eg in a multi-role play.

Teachers must ensure that students have the opportunity to take an equal and active role in the creative and collaborative process regardless of their chosen specialism.

All designs must be assessed in live performance:

  • For lighting designers the lights and lighting effects must be seen in the live performance.
  • For sound designers the sound and sound effects must be heard in the live performance.
  • For set designers the set seen in the live performance should follow the students' design.
  • For costume designers the costume designed must be seen in the live performance.
  • For puppet designers the puppet designed must be a part of the live performance.

Design students are not assessed on their ability to operate equipment associated with their design.

Therefore although all students are encouraged to develop their theatrical skills to their full potential the following applies:
  • Lighting designers are not required to operate the lighting equipment in the live performance.
  • Sound designers are not required to operate the sound equipment in the live performance.
  • Set designers are not assessed on the set's construction.
  • Costume designers are not assessed on the costume's construction.
  • Puppet designers are not assessed in the puppet's construction and need not be the puppet operators during the live performance.

Assessors must assess the design and not its execution.

Designs should be realised in performance to the full extent possible within any practical constraints.

Design students must work to support performers (and director where applicable) and create a design which supports and enhances the live performance work. Students should have an awareness of how their design will impact on the live performance as a whole.

The performance of Extract 3

Each student is required to contribute to a monologue, duologue or a group piece.

Type Performance duration3
Monologue (one performer) Must be between two and five minutes
Duologue (two performers) Must be between five and ten minutes
Group performance (three or more performers) Must be between six and thirty minutes

3Students are not required to perform the full key extract.

For group performances playing time for each performance should reflect the number of performance students in the group. For example a group with six performance students should work to the upper time limit.

Teachers are required to ensure minimum performance times are met.

If a student’s performance does not meet the required duration a penalty is applied to the mark (the size of the penalty depends on the severity of the timing infringement). It may also result in schools or colleges being investigated for maladministration.

Assessment evidence

The performances/designs presented for assessment must be the student’s own work.

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each students work.

Programme notes

Teachers must provide programme notes for the examiner stating the title of the piece and the name of the practitioner selected.

The programme notes must include photographs of each student in order that each student is clearly identifiable to the examiner.

The programme notes must also state each student’s chosen specialism, chosen plays and if they are performing, the character(s) they are playing.

In addition each student must offer a statement of their individual dramatic intentions to justify their theatrical choices and provide the examiner with a context for the productions he/she is assessing.

The Statement of Dramatic Intentions must be completed by the student on the template AQA provides. This statement is not assessed directly but is used to support assessment. Assessment must not take place without reference to the student’s Statement of Dramatic Intentions.

Recording

Assessed performances must be recorded with a single camera from an audience perspective from start to finish and be unedited.

Each student being assessed must identify themselves by name and candidate number at the start of the recording.

Students must also state their chosen specialism and chosen plays and if they are performing, the character(s) they are playing.

Close-ups of set, costume and puppet design students’ work must be included at the beginning of the recording.

Full details of our requirements for recordings are provided at aqa.org.uk/drama

Supervising students

It is expected that during the rehearsal process teachers will support students through the provision of workshops.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

For authentication, regular monitoring should be undertaken by the teacher so that the work is seen at each developmental stage.

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times during performance preparation but there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers are not permitted to provide any guidance to students whilst the assessed performance is being carried out.

Other requirements

Each performance must be carried out in live performance conditions and ideally under stage lighting. There is no requirement upon students to present their key extract within a full production context ie with full set and costume.

All performance preparation and the live performance itself must be carried out in a setting which has been formally risk assessed and deemed safe.

The performance space should enable students to fulfill their chosen specialism as much as possible.

Students should be aware of health and safety factors as they relate to both their chosen specialism and the performance piece as a whole.

Non-examinees are permitted to perform alongside performance candidates, but only where absolutely necessary in order to make the group size up to the minimum of performers. They must be students not staff.

Technical support may be provided to design students. This may be by non-examinee students or staff.

The Reflective report

Each student is required to write a Reflective report in which they analyse and evaluate their theatrical interpretation of all three key extracts studied. Students do not need to discuss each extract in turn. They should take a holistic approach.

Students must provide the following information on the cover sheet:

  • the name of each play studied
  • the playwright of each play
  • the key extracts selected, indicating which one is to be performed as a final finished piece
  • the specialism chosen for each extract (and if performer, the character played)
  • the practitioner chosen for this component (which must be applied to the key extract performed as a final finished piece and may have been applied to the other two extracts).

For assessment students must discuss:

  • the opportunities and challenges presented by their three extracts
  • their theatrical interpretations for each key extract, including how this was informed by:
    • the genre and style of the play
    • the social, cultural and historical contexts of the play
    • the work and methodology of their selected prescribed practitioner, where appropriate.
  • how successful their theatrical interpretations are in fulfilling their aims and communicating intended meaning, during the workshopping of material.

The report must be completed before the final assessed performance of Extract 3 takes place. Students are not required to reflect on a final performance, only on their workshopped theatrical interpretations.

Assessment evidence

The Reflective report must be the student’s own work.

The Reflective report must be presented as a written document.

Evidence for the Reflective report must be Suggested length The Reflective report must not exceed in total (evidence beyond this will not count towards the mark)
Entirely written 2,000–2,500 words 3,000 words

Students and teachers will be required to sign a Candidate record form (CRF) to fully authenticate each student's work.

Supervising students

Students do not have to be directly supervised at all times whilst they are completing their Reflective report. However there must be adequate supervision to ensure that work can be authenticated.

Teachers may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the task they need to undertake and the marking criteria that will be used.

Teachers may provide guidance to students on the suitability of their response to the task particularly if it means they will not meet the requirements of the specification.

Teachers must follow JCQ instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all A-level Drama and Theatre specifications and all exam boards.

The exams and non-exam assessment will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives:

  • AO1: Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning as part of the theatre making process, making connections between dramatic theory and practice.
  • AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.
  • AO3: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how drama and theatre is developed and performed.
  • AO4: Analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

Assessment objective weightings for A-level Drama and Theatre

Assessment objectives (AOs) Component weightings (approx %) Overall weighting (approx %)
Component 1 Component 2 Component 3
AO1   20   20
AO2   10 20 30
AO3 30     30
AO4 10   10 20
Overall weighting of components 40 30 30 100

Assessment weightings

The marks awarded on the papers will be scaled to meet the weighting of the components. Students’ final marks will be calculated by adding together the scaled marks for each component. Grade boundaries will be set using this total scaled mark. The scaling and total scaled marks are shown in the table below.

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Component 1 80 1 80
Component 2 60 1 60
Component 3 60 1 60
Total scaled mark: 200

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria below details the mark bands with descriptors for the assessment of students' work.

Component 2: Creating original drama assessment grids

Component 2 is marked by the teacher out of 60 marks, with marks divided as follows:

  • Working notebook Section 1: Rationale and research AO1 (20 marks)
  • Working notebook Section 2: Development and refinement AO1 (20 marks)
  • Devised performance AO2 (20 marks).

Marking the Working notebook

This is the mark scheme to be used for both sections of the Working notebook in Component 2. This is a level of response mark scheme.

Level of response mark schemes are broken down into levels, each of which has a descriptor. The descriptor for the level shows the average performance. There are marks in each level. Before you apply the mark scheme to a student’s response you should review the response.

Step 1 Determine a level – Start at the lowest level of the mark scheme and use it as a ladder to see whether the response meets the descriptor for that level. The descriptors for the level indicate the different qualities that might be seen in the student’s response. If the response meets the lowest level then go to the next one and decide if it meets this level, and so on, until you have a match between the level descriptors and the response.

When assigning a level look at the overall quality of the response. If the response covers different aspects of different levels of the mark scheme you should use a best fit approach and use the variability of the response to decide the mark within the level, ie if the response is predominantly level 3 with a small amount of level 4 material it would be placed in level 3 but awarded a mark near the top because of the level 4 content.

Step 2 Determine a mark – Once you have assigned a level you need to decide on the mark. The exemplar materials used during teacher standardisation will help. You can compare the student’s response with the marked and annotated examples to determine if it is the same standard, better or worse.

There are 20 marks available for each section, 40 marks in total.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO1: Create and develop ideas to communicate meaning as part of the theatre making process, making connections between dramatic theory and practice.

Marking Section 1 and Section 2

Working notebook Section 1 (20 marks) and Section 2 (20 marks)

Band Mark Descriptors
4 16–20 Excellent response:
  • Explanations given in the Working notebook evidence excellent skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning through devising.
  • Evidence of a very sensitive and highly creative response to the stimulus.
  • Evidence of full development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • Precise details are provided throughout.
  • Structure and reasoning is logical and systematic.
  • Responses make perceptive connections between dramatic theory and practice.
3 11–15 Good response:
  • Explanations given in the Working notebook evidence good skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning through devising.
  • Evidence of a fully engaged response to the stimulus, demonstrating strong creativity.
  • Evidence of a good degree of development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • A number of precise details are provided.
  • Structure and reasoning is clear and consistent.
  • Responses make considered connections between dramatic theory and practice.
2 6–10 Reasonable response:
  • Explanations given in the Working notebook evidence reasonable skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning through devising.
  • Evidence of creative engagement with the stimulus.
  • Evidence of some useful development and refinement of skills and the piece.
  • Only some details are given and/or details may lack precision.
  • Structure and reasoning is present but not always clear.
  • Responses make some useful connections between dramatic theory and practice.
1 1–5 Limited response:
  • Explanations given in the Working notebook evidence limited skills in creating and developing ideas to communicate meaning through devising.
  • Evidence of a predictable response to the stimulus.
  • Lack of evidence regarding development and refinement of skills.
  • Details are rarely given and/or where details are given, are imprecise.
  • There is little or no structure or reasoning present.
  • Responses make only generalised connections between dramatic theory and practice.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Marking the devised performance

This is the mark scheme to be used for the Devised performance in Component 2.

There are 20 marks available. Award either one mark, two marks, three marks, four marks or five marks for each of the following four criteria.

The assessment objective being assessed is AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.

Devised performance (20 marks)

Mark Level of theatrical skills Consonance of devised piece with dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner Inventiveness and originality of individual’s work Success in realising individual artistic intention
5 Exceptional command of skill-set, demonstrating faultless execution. Exceptional consonance between devised piece and dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner. Exceptionally inventive and original work. Exceptional success in realising individual artistic intention in a completely sustained way, engaging the audience fully throughout the performance.
4 Excellent command of skill-set, demonstrating near perfect execution. High degree of compatibility between the devised piece and dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner. Highly inventive and original work. Highly successful in realising individual artistic intention in a well-sustained way, engaging the audience throughout the performance.
3 Good command of skill-set, demonstrating competent execution. Devised piece has many qualities reflective of the dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner. Work has many inventive and original qualities or moments. Largely successful in realising individual artistic intention in a mostly focused way, engaging the audience for most of the performance.
2 Reasonable command of skill-set, demonstrating mainly secure execution. Some compatibility between the dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner and devised piece. Reasonably inventive and original ideas, demonstrating developing skills in this area. Reasonable success in realising individual artistic intention, engaging the audience at a number of points during the performance.
1 Limited command of skill-set, demonstrating insecure execution. Limited compatibility between devised piece and dramatic intentions and methods of the chosen practitioner. Limited invention and originality. Limited realisation of individual artistic intention, rarely engaging the audience.
0 Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit. Nothing worthy of credit.

Component 3: Making theatre assessment grids

Component 3 is marked by a visiting AQA assessor, using the assessment grids below.

There are 60 marks available, divided as follows:

  • Performance of Extract 3 (40 marks – split into two mark schemes, one out of 25 and one out of 15) - the assessment objective being assessed is AO2: Apply theatrical skills to realise artistic intentions in live performance.
  • Reflective Report (20 marks) – the assessment objective being assessed is AO4: Analyse and evaluate their own work and the work of others.

Mark scheme for the Performance of Extract 3 Part A (25 marks)

Band Mark Descriptors
5 21–25 Exceptional contribution to performance:
  • An outstanding range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed with complete control and in an exceptionally effective way.
  • Personal interpretation is exceptionally appropriate to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is exceptionally sensitive to context.
  • Artistic intentions are completely achieved to exceptional effect, engaging the audience fully throughout the performance.
4 16–20 Excellent contribution to performance:
  • An extensive range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed precisely and in a highly effective way.
  • Personal interpretation is entirely appropriate to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is highly sensitive to context.
  • Artistic intentions are entirely achieved, engaging the audience throughout the performance.
3 11–15 Good contribution to performance:
  • Wide range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed confidently and in a mostly effective way.
  • Personal interpretation is mostly appropriate to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is mostly sensitive to context.
  • Artistic intentions are mostly achieved, engaging the audience for most of the performance.
2 6–10 Reasonable contribution to performance:
  • Fair range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed earnestly with effectiveness in places.
  • Personal interpretation has some relevance to the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation is sensitive to context in places.
  • Artistic intentions are only partly achieved, engaging the audience at a number of points during the performance.
1 1–5 Limited contribution to performance:
  • Narrow range of skills are demonstrated.
  • Skills are deployed uncertainly with little effectiveness.
  • Personal interpretation lacks appropriateness for the play as a whole.
  • Personal interpretation lacks sensitivity to context.
  • Very few, or no, artistic intentions are achieved, rarely engaging the audience.
0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Mark scheme for the Performance of Extract 3 Part B (15 marks)

Band Marks Descriptors
5 13–15 Exceptional application of practitioner's work/methodologies:
  • Personal interpretation is wholly consistent with the practitioner’s dramatic intentions and methods.
  • Features of the chosen practitioner’s work and methodologies are evident throughout.
  • Application of the practitioner’s work and/or methodologies is wholly effective.
4 10–12 Excellent application of practitioner's work/methodologies:
  • Personal interpretation is highly consistent with the practitioner’s dramatic intentions and methods.
  • Features of the chosen practitioner’s work and methodologies are evident frequently.
  • Application of the practitioner’s work and/or methodologies is highly effective.
3 7–9 Good application of practitioner's work/methodologies:
  • Personal interpretation is consistent with the practitioner’s dramatic intentions and methods.
  • Features of the chosen practitioner’s work and methodologies are evident in a number of places.
  • Application of the practitioner’s work and/or methodologies is effective.
2 4–6 Reasonable application of practitioner's work/methodologies:
  • Personal interpretation is partially consistent with the practitioner’s dramatic intentions and methods.
  • Features of the chosen practitioner’s work and methodologies are evident occasionally.
  • Application of the practitioner’s work and/or methodologies is partially effective.
1 1–3 Limited application of practitioner's work/methodologies:
  • Personal interpretation lacks consistency with the practitioner’s dramatic intentions and methods.
  • Features of the chosen practitioner’s work and methodologies are rarely evident.
  • Application of the practitioner’s work and/or methodologies lacks effectiveness.
0 0

Nothing worthy of credit.

Mark scheme for the Reflective report (20 marks)

Band Mark Descriptors
5 17–20

Assured and perceptive analysis and evaluation referring in precise detail to their theatrical interpretation of all three extracts.

Compelling and fluently structured.

4 13–16

Focused and considered analysis and evaluation referring in detail to their theatrical interpretation of all three extracts.

Detailed and well structured.

3 9–12

Straightforward and pertinent analysis and evaluation referring in detail in places to their theatrical interpretation of all three extracts.

Relevant with some structure.

2 5–8

Generalised analysis and evaluation referring in limited detail to their theatrical interpretation of all three extracts.

Lacking in clarity of expression and organisation.

1 1–4

Little relevant analysis and evaluation referring in negligible detail to their theatrical interpretation of all three extracts.

Unclear and disorganised.

0 0 Nothing worthy of credit.