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EQ951-15 Drama and Literacy

Department Education Studies

Level Taught Postgraduate Level

Module leader Cheryl Cane

Credit value 30

Module duration 10 weeks

Assessment 100% coursework

Study location University of Warwick main campus, Coventry


The Drama and Literacy module is responsive to the stress placed internationally on the development of literacy in both primary and secondary schools in recent years. Following on from Drama and Theatre Studies in Theory and Practice, it looks specifically at theories of literacy that emphasise the importance of cultural semiotics and social context.

It considers the close historical relationship between drama and English in schools and explores the specific contribution drama can make to children’s language development in general and the development of reading and writing in particular.

Principle Module Aims and Outcomes
  • To introduce sociolinguistic and other socio-cultural theories of language and language acquisition that underpin the drama and literacy relationship.
  • To understand the relationship between drama education and the development of children’s literacy skills
  • To assist in the development of coherent programmes for teaching and assessing drama within an English / language curriculum that reflects the references to drama in orders and in non-statutory guidance.
  • To provide students with the skills and understandings to be effective teachers of drama and/or curriculum co-ordinators for drama within an English / language department.
  • To develop understandings of contemporary and international models of theory and practice in drama education and their relevance to the teaching of literacy.
  • To provide the opportunity for evaluating and critically assessing the pedagogic claims that have been made for drama as a method of learning in English / a language curriculum.
  • Theoretical perspectives on drama and literacy
    In these sessions we examine how socio-cultural theories of language acquisition, with particular reference to the work of Halliday, can illuminate the relationship between drama and the development of literacy.
  • Drama and ICT: mutiliteracies and the democratisation of culture (Focus: KS1-3)
    Students are introduced to the recently developed Intel DigitalBlue technologies which allow children to make and edit their own films. These are practically tested and considered in the light of theories of multi-literacies and the work of Gunther Kress.
  • Drama and literacy across the curriculum (Focus: KS1)
    In this session we explore practical approaches to how drama can develop literacy skills within a cross-curricular framework in the early years, with close attention to the theories of Vygotsky and Bakhtin.
  • Developing speaking and listening through drama (Focus: KS3/4)
    Here we examine the role of playscripts in developing literacy skills in the secondary school. We relate the theoretical work of Bourdieu to the writings of leading practitioners such as Andy Kempe.
  • Drama and critical literacy (1 and 2)
    The work of Norman Fairclough is considered and related to the theories of Freire and Boal. We examine the significance of critical literacy – or the ability to read beyond the text and consider issues of political power and ideology as an essential part of literacy; and we explore how drama can be a practical aid to this purpose.
  • Drama, gender and writing: focus KS 2/3
    We will use the picture story book Blodin the Beast by Michael Morpurgo to explore gendered aspects of literacy development, with specific reference to differences in the reading and writing of boys and girls.
  • Drama and Literacy: developing your own practice
    In this final session, students have the opportunity to explore a range of story books suitable for planning drama activities to enhance children’s literacy across the primary and secondary years. In small groups you will plan draft schemes of work with attention to the theoretical and practical issues explored throughout the term.
Study Time
Type Required
Lectures 10 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Practical classes 10 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Supervised practical classes 1 sessions of 5 hour (2%)
Private study 265 hours (88%)
Total 300 hours
Coursework 100%
Module Information

This is a core module for MA Drama and English Language Teaching and MA Drama and Theatre Education, and an optional module for MA Childhood in Society, MA Education, MA Educational Innovation, MA Educational Leadership and Management, MA Islamic Education: Theory and Practice, MA Global Education and International Development, and MA Psychology and Education.