Department of Education

English and Drama

Course Leader: Sue Pinnick & Karen Hall

What does the Sussex ITE partnership offer?

You can apply directly to the university to study for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) specialising in English and Drama. Alternatively, many schools work in partnership with the University to offer School Direct places which also lead to an English PGCE award. Either route will prepare you, as a trainee teacher, to teach English and Media at Key Stages 3 and 4 (11-16 years) with enhancement opportunities in the Post-16 A level curriculum.

Successful trainees will be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Why combined Drama and English teacher education at Sussex?

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts." 
Willian Shakespeare

At the heart of the combined English and Drama PGCE course at Sussex is a belief in the importance of English Language, English Literature  and Drama. Enabling pupils to become independent, critical readers who love reading and talking about texts with teachers and peers will allow them to succeed in all other areas of the English - and indeed the school - curriculum. Therefore, you will gain understanding of how to develop the reading abilities of your pupils, drawing connections between your own knowledge and love of literature and the comprehension strategies and exposure to challenging texts that will enable your pupils to become similarly enthusiastic, engaged readers. Exploratory talk about texts is also central to developing pupils' talk and writing, combined with rich, textual models. You will deepen your own grammatical understanding and that of your pupils, enabling them to become creative, effective writers.

Drama offers school pupils the opportunity to enrich their lives and communities, explore complex issues and emotions, and build their self-confidence and practical skills. Drama nourishes pupils, gives them a wide range of experience from working in groups, and makes them use their imagination to acquire technical and design expertise. You will develop your understanding of the place of this subject within Secondary education, and learn a range of strategies for teaching this exciting subject. Beyond the classroom, you will engage in the broader role and position of Drama in school life, supporting - and sometimes leading - performances and productions.

Our partnership believes that Drama should be an inclusive experience for everyone. Distinctive features of our course include the different inputs offered by local school practitioners, as well as teaching labs where cohorts can stretch and challenge each other in practice-based workshops.

Many English and Drama teacher trainees go on to teach both subjects. Some choose to specialise in one or the other, while enhancing their teaching with the knowledge and skills acquired while training in the second subject. Many progress to our Masters courses to continue to enhance their teaching abilities and deepen their subject knowledge by researching best practice.

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will learn to be an English and Drama teacher through a combination of taught sessions at the university and school-led professional development and classroom practice. You will start your course with a 2-3 week induction at the University in September, which is followed by a programme of lectures, seminars and workshops every Friday. These involve presentations, group work, role play, classroom modelling and peer teaching, for which you will explore ideas and approaches and reflect on your own experiences.

Over the course of the academic year, you will undertake two periods of professional practice in two different schools (these may vary slightly in length, but will equate to a minimum of 120 working days in total). You will be supported in your professional placements by an English and Drama specialist who will act as a mentor, offering you tutorial support and developing a programme of practice-based professional studies for you. Your progress will be assessed through observations, feedback and discussion. To this end, you will create and maintain a portfolio of evidence demonstrating how you have met the various Teachers' Standards.

You will engage with the theoretical foundations of classroom practice and demonstrate the depth of your professional knowledge by completing three academic assignments during the course.

Additional entry requirements

To be accepted on this course, you must meet the partnership's established entry requirements for Initial Teacher Education. See 'Our Entry Requirements' at the bottom of our Applying web page. Additionally, you should be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A strong knowledge and understanding of English literature and language, and a sound awareness of how the subject is currently taught within Secondary state schools
  • A joint honours undergraduate degree 2:2 or above in English and Drama, or an English degree with at least 30% Drama and a Drama A level. 

Undertaking a short classroom type teaching task and showing an awareness of the curriculum and school life is part of our interview process, so candidates may wish to prepare themselves by spending some time in an appropriate school setting for the subject/phase they intend to teach beforehand.

All candidates offered a place on a teacher training course will be required to satisfactorily complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly known as a CRB check), including a check of all cautions and warnings as well as convictions, before their place can be confirmed. The University will pay the costs of this check on your behalf.

How to apply

Applications for all Initial Teacher Education courses are made online via the Government's Department for Education websiteSee also our 'Applying' web page for a step-by-step process for how to apply to train to teach at Sussex.


See our Scholarships, fees and living costs web page for information on fees and eligibility for financial support. Specific information on bursaries, financial incentives and other sources of funding for Initial Teacher Education are available on our PGCE & School Direct Trainee Fees & Bursaries: 2023 and from the Department for Education.


See full details of the Secondary English and Drama PGCE course at Sussex on the Prospectus.

General enquiries about any ITE course, including application queries, should be directed to the ITE admissions team: 

Specific course enquiries can be directed to the Course Leader: