Higher Drama



Course content:

The Higher Drama course requires candidates to undertake a study of one chosen text (Text in Context) and one performance they have seen live (Performance Analysis).  In the final exam, pupils must demonstrate their ability to interpret questions and respond in an informed way to show their skills, knowledge and understanding of:

  • acting concepts
  • design concepts
  • directing concepts
  • performance concepts
  • use of performance space
  • a range of staging, settings and styles of production
  • applying concepts when responding to stimuli, including text and performance
  • historical, social, cultural and theatrical contexts
  • target audience
  • impact and audience appreciation
  • form, structure, genre and style
  • plot development
  • key moments or scenes
  • a range of production roles
  • characterisation techniques
  • character status, motivation, personality, attitude and relationships
  • themes and issues
  • message/purpose
  • mood and atmosphere
  • creation of tension
  • dramatic features
  • rehearsal techniques
  • problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • analysis and evaluation of self and others


Text in Context:

Pupils will study ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller. They will complete practical activities which will allow them to explore the main themes and character relationships within the text, as well as gain an understanding of the historical and social background to the play. Pupils will complete essays throughout the course as preparation for the written exam question, and written responses exploring their role as an actor or director of the text.

Performance Analysis:

Pupils will attend a professional production of a chosen play some time during the course. They will then analyse and explore various aspects of the production including acting, directing, the performance space and design concepts (lighting, sound, props, costume, set design, and make-up). Candidates will complete essays throughout the course in preparation for the written exam question on this.

Higher Drama Assessment:


The performance assesses candidates’ preparation and performance of a textual extract from a full-length play. Candidates are assessed in an acting, directing or design role.

The performance has 60 marks (60% of the overall course award) and is broken down into two sections:

– Up to 50 marks for the performance (e.g. for an acting role, 25 marks for each acting piece.)

– Up to 10 marks for the ‘preparation for performance’ essay.

This performance is marked by an SQA visiting assessor.

Pupils will prepare for this through a committed rehearsal process both in class, at lunchtime and after school. Rehearsal slots can be booked on a first come first served basis.

 Question paper:

The written exam lasts 2 hours 30 minutes.
This exam is worth 40% of the Course assessment and comprises of three sections:

  • Section 1 – Pupils will complete one essay on their Set Text (20 marks)
  • Section 2 – Pupils will answer structured questions from the perspective of two production roles on their selected text (10 marks)
  • Section 3 – Pupils will complete one Performance Analysis essay (20 marks)

The Course will be graded A–D.