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Education, English, Drama and the Arts: Track Content

students learning

Education - with the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge at its heart - is one of the most important and powerful cultural currents of change and growth in the modern world.

These key characteristics are reflected in the structure of the Education Tripos, a diverse and intellectually exciting course which opens up a wide range of employment opportunities and careers.

Education, as a major social science in its own right, explores the intellectual, social and psychological development of the child and young person from birth through to adulthood and the role of literacy, language and creativity in learning. It examines the historical contexts shaping educational ideas and movements and the underlying philosophical principles and political beliefs promoting notions of meritocracy, equality, social inclusion, poverty alleviation and human rights.

At Cambridge, you will engage with these important contemporary themes and ongoing debates, developing and applying a form of critical literacy suited to addressing the varieties of evidence generated and used by educational researchers, policy-makers and professionals.

Education, English, Drama and the Arts combines the study of English Literature with key issues in education, such as debates around creativity, learning and culture. For those who enjoy Drama, the track also provides a fantastic opportunity to study this as part of the course.


number 1

First Year

In your first year you will take four papers consisting of the following structure:

Two compulsory education papers:

  • Critical Debates in Education – discussing core questions of education and key transformations that require a reimagining of education for the 21st Century.
  • Language, Communication and Literacies – exploring the social, psychological and material context within which communication, spoken language and literacy are developed in childhood.

One compulsory track specific paper:

  • Poetics, Aesthetics and Criticism - critically analyses literature including historicisms, feminist and queer theories, psychoanalytical, posthumanist and poststructuralist theories and developments in digital literature.

And another paper:

  • Chosen from a list of options each year, including an option to study practical drama.

number 2

Second Year

In your second year you will take five papers consisting of the following structure:

Two compulsory education papers:

  • Designing Educational Research - introducing key methods like interviews, survey-based research instruments as well as discourse analysis and research designs, using a problem-based learning approach with hands-on activities.
  • The Emergence of Educational Thinking and Systems - exploring dynamics shaping the institutionalisation of different forms of education and the implications for communities, societies and power relations.

One chosen education paper:

  • Chosen from a list of options each year

Two further papers:

  • Chosen from a list of options each year, including some papers offered by the Faculty of English

number 3

Final Year

In your final year you will take five papers consisting of the following structure:

All students will complete a 8,000-10,000 word dissertation related to the investigation and analysis of an education issue.

You will then choose two or three education papers:

  • Chosen from a list of options each year
  • This list may include a second track-specific dissertation

Finally, you will also choose one or two further papers from a list of options, at least one of which will be a track-specific paper.


teaching and learning

How will I be taught?

As an Education student you will benefit from a wide range of different teaching and learning styles.

Lectures provide you with the foundations; you will build on the knowledge you gain with your own research and reading. As many of your lecturers will be working at the forefront of their fields, their lectures will enable you to engage with the very latest ideas and debates.

Seminars and classes are more interactive, with lecturers exploring a particular topic in more depth. If you choose to study practical Drama papers, you will benefit from use of the purpose build Drama studio.

Your lectures and seminars will normally take place in the Faculty of Education on Hills Road although lectures for borrowed papers will usually take place elsewhere.

Supervisions - the intensive small group teaching sessions that are one of Cambridge's strongest selling points - are organised by your College's Director of Studies (DoS). You hand in written work in advance and then have the opportunity to discuss it with the supervisor and other students and to explore the subject further with them. This allows you to explore new approaches and discuss both the set topic and other aspects of the course in depth.

As with lectures, your supervisions will usually take place in the Faculty, but supervisions for borrowed papers may take place elsewhere. In addition to arranging supervisions, your DoS will give you regular academic advice and support.

While speed of working will inevitably vary from person to person, you can expect to work for 40-48 hours a week during the eight-week term, to include: lectures, practicals (some papers only), supervisions, preparation for supervisions and private study.

You can also read some of our current students' thoughts on studying Education, and find out more about whether this course is right for you.