'This is a photo of me being sad about theatre closures' :(Amber De Ruyt

Not niche enough to be ASNAC, not basic enough to be English. The real question here is, Education, who is she? Before you say it, no we’re not learning to be teachers.

“The real question here is, Education, who is she? Before you say it, no we’re not learning to be teachers”

As I spent my school years being a bit of a two-trick pony, applying to study English and Drama at university was a no brainer. After searching for what felt like forever, I came across ‘Education, English, Drama and the Arts’, a fairly new course at Cambridge that I had never heard of. I discovered module descriptions about philosophy, practical drama and children’s literature that truly blew my mind. I was hooked, and a few weeks later my application was sent off! The fact I didn’t know about this course sooner is an absolute travesty, one I am here to rectify! So here is your quick starter pack to the Education Tripos from a procrastinating second year.

3 Subjects in 1?

Our tripos is composed of 3 tracks:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning
  • Education, Policy and International Development
  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts

Every track has to take some compulsory Education papers, where we touch on linguistics and philosophy as well as a frankly terrifying Quantitative Research project that makes my B grade in Maths GCSE tremble. These are definitely the most challenging since they’re so far out of everyone’s comfort zone. Though when it comes to track-specific papers, there is always the option to choose to take papers from other tracks if you’re more open-minded than me!


As quite a small subject, with 38 of us in my year group and around 12 on my track, the traditional method of sitting and listening to lectures doesn’t really work. Instead, it has more of a seminar-like feel to it, full of group discussions and dreaded audience participation. As someone who can very happily spend a two hour philosophy lecture on Depop, being forced to engage and pay attention through conversation is definitely more of a blessing than I’ll ever care to admit.

'This photo is of the little bed my drama lecturer made me when I said I wasn’t feeling great but he still wanted me to be able to attend the lecture'Amber De Ruyt

Drama? In Cambridge?

You might not be surprised to hear that Cambridge doesn’t offer a theatre studies degree. However, my track does come pretty close! Every week (pre-Covid), the 10 of us wise enough to choose the drama module would meet in the Small Studio in Homerton and prance through time as we explored theatre in all its forms! In my first ever lecture, we studied the Greek Chorus. By the end of the 3 hours our whole group had bonded over playing every trust-building drama game under the sun and trying to move as one to become the chorus! This year (mid-Covid), we’re writing our own scripts and were lucky enough to workshop them with Simon Evans (from Staged), an alumnus of the course. Being able to look beyond your screen or an exam paper is so liberating, especially in Cambridge, so I couldn’t be more grateful for our little drama crew.

Redefining a ‘Text’

" I’m in the middle of writing my dissertation about the evolution of feminist discourse between the animated and live-action versions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!”

My absolute favourite thing about Education is the way they define a ‘text’. As my first year Poetics supervisor put it, if you can write about it, it’s a text worth writing about! In our first supervision, he brought in two children’s books and said ‘right, let’s analyse and compare’ in the same way he could have spoken about Chaucer or Shakespeare. I was buzzing, especially when I found out I’d be attending lectures about cartoons and comic books as well as Ovid and Marlowe. In my first year, I wrote essays about Disney’s vs Betty Boop’s Snow White, 10 Things I Hate About You and even The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Fast forward to the present, I’m in the middle of writing my dissertation about the evolution of feminist discourse between the animated and live action versions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! From close analysis of different scenes, to reading old interviews with Linda Woolverton (the first female screenwriter Disney ever hired for an animated feature), it’s safe to say I really am living the dream.

Halfway through my 3 years here, I can safely say there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m so grateful I didn’t listen to all the idiots who told me I just chose it as an easy way into Cambridge and just learnt to love everything about the challenge and fun of being a student here. We get a lot of transfers in from other subjects, so come join the fun!


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