skip to primary navigation skip to content

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 the following papers:

  • Critical Debates in Education - introducing major themes in education and Faculty research
  • Language, Communication, and Literacies - exploring the social, psychological and material context within which spoken language and literacy are developed
  • Poetics, Aesthetics and Criticism

And one of the following two papers:

  • Drama Production and its Contexts
  • Literature and Culture

number 2

Second Year

In your second year you will take the following papers:

  • Designing Educational Research -
    a project in research design
  • The Emergence of Educational Thinking and Systems - covering historical and philosophical perspectives on key aspects of education

And two of the following papers:

  • International Literatures, Arts and Cultures
  • Theatre, Practice and Production
  • A paper borrowed from the English Faculty

One optional paper from a list to be published, for example:

  • Education, Global Inequalities and Social Justice
  • Learning and Human Development
  • Experience of Childhood and Youth
  • Statistics and Methods (borrowed from the Human, Social and Political Science Tripos)
  • The option of an English dissertation

number 3

Final Year

  • 8,000-10,000 word dissertation related to the investigation and analysis of an education issue.

You will also take the following papers:


  • Children’s literature


  • Performance, Education and Society
  • A paper borrowed from the English Faculty

Two optional papers from a list to be published, for example:

  • Formal and Informal Contexts of Learning
  • International Issues in Inclusion and Diversity
  • Statistics and Methods (borrowed from the Human, Social and Political Science Tripos)

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.