Tips and Tricks for IB English Literature and Performance (Written Coursework)

English Literature and Performance is a subject available in IB under both Group 1: studies in language and literature, and Group 6: the arts. It aims to explore the relation between literature and theatre. As a student of literature and performance, you are required to study a minimum of five texts. This blog focuses on the play you would be studying and the required assessment.


Written coursework is understanding a piece of written script and its performance on stage. You have to write an essay incorporating critical analysis of an extract or a series of linked extracts from a play by a playwright as well as reflection on its realization in performance. Your teacher would have chosen which play you would be studying. This coursework gives you the freedom to choose what your essay will focus on and therefore has endless possibilities. It is written during the course but is externally assessed and therefore it is one of the assessments that you can score incredibly well in to increase your overall score. The written assignment must be 1,500–2,000 words in length and comprises 20% of your final grade. Your teacher is allowed to guide you and give you feedback but is not allowed to edit it for you. Make use of resources like your teacher and your IB English online tutor to gain a detailed insight and analysis on the play you are studying before writing your coursework.

The coursework is written on the basis of a performance you have done previously. Within your class, over a period of time, you would analyze the text and perform it. This performance will give you an insight into dramatizing the scenes creatively and effectively. This process will introduce you to how your choice of character behaves in different scenes and help you choose the focus of your essay. Most importantly, you should become more aware of how you are acting and what measures you take to make that character more believable for the audience.

Your IB tutor can tell you the details but here is an example:

For instance, you are studying Othello by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare uses a plethora of literary devices in every dialogue he writes including the astonishing use of Iambic pentameter. The characters are well developed and very unique. You may find Othello an interesting character and choose to explore him. A possible question/focus of your essay could be – ‘Critical Analysis Act 1 Scene 3 And Act 3 Scene 3 Of Othello By William Shakespeare, Focusing On Othello’s Change In Character From A Place of Confidence To Vulnerability In The Two Scenes And Its Transformation Onto Stage.’ You would pick literary devices, punctuations, structure etc. that would help you show how Othello’s confidence turned into vulnerability in the two scenes. The analysis can be written in the PEEL method which is explained in ‘TIPS AND TRICKS FOR IB English Literature and Performance (Paper 2)’ in our blog section. You would also dramatize the two scenes and write it as if you did it yourself. Details are important like - “to show confidence, I kept one hand on the handle of sword on my waist, stood tall and spoke confidently” or “I stressed on the syllable to highlight the hyperbole used”. These are details you would not write otherwise in the time constraints of Paper 1. Every choice of dramatization should be justified yet practical. Here is an example sentence of appreciation of a literary device and the consequent dramatization from my coursework:

The disturbance in Othello’s mind is further reflected by the use of sibilance in “sweet” “glorious”, “steed” and “spiritstirring”. To amplify the effect of grief in these lines, I spoke in a distressing tone stretching the alveolar fricative /s/ in the sibilance.

The sentence is from a paragraph in my coursework and may not make much sense out of context. However, it can help you understand how to write your essay, the analysis, dramatization and how detailed it should be. Writing this coursework will immensely help you take your Paper 1 to the next level if you are observant and active in understanding the subtleties of the assessment.


Criterion A: Analysis of the literary features of the text (5 marks)

This criterion examines your knowledge and analysis of literary features in the play. You should have detailed analysis of all possible literary features present in the extract in your essay in relation to the focus you have chosen. Your Online IB English tutor can help you with this. The analysis should be supported with good examples and quotes from the play. You must be careful that your analysis and explanation has direct, explicit and obvious links to the questions and answers it well. The more informed references and quotes you include in your answer, the better your answer is. However, the quotes must be relevant to the point you are trying to make, the subsequent analysis and must be linked to the focus/question you have chosen. This tells the examiner that you are extremely well informed of the scenes you are analyzing. Discuss and analyze the poems with your online IB tutor to be able to write an informed analysis in your essay.

Criterion B: Exploration of the chosen approach to the text (10 marks)

How well is the chosen extract showcasing the qualities/attributes of the character mentioned in the title/focus of your essay? You should be careful that no other scene or extract from the play represents your title and focus better. You must also make sure that you have explored the full dramatic potential of the scene. This can be ensured by giving details about everything, from your tone, voice, posture, movement, position, proximity etc. Do not hesitate to ask your IB tutor for feedback, insights and ideas. This is the best way to see details that your teacher or you have missed out on in the extract.

Criterion C: Use of language, structure (5 marks)

Your essay should be well organized, easy to understand yet show a good grasp of the language and vocabulary. The structure of the essay should help you deliver your analysis and ideas effectively. Are you going to dramatize along with your analysis or dramatize after you have analyzed everything? Your IB English tutor can help develop a good structure and give you feedback on your essay including effective use of language.


  • Analyze the entire play and do not decide your focus character before reading and understanding the entire play. Analysis of the play should include appreciation of literary devices and their effect on the reader/viewer.
  • Choose which character interests you and what is it about the character that you are interested in. The essay is about one character that you enacted and one or two attributes of that character. Make sure it is not an obvious approach. For example, Othello is famous for Iago’s manipulation. Choosing to write an essay on this may not be very interesting for the examiner who will be marking your essay.
  • PHONETICS – this was a huge plus point for me in my answers in both paper 2 and the written coursework. Phonetics is the study of sounds in a language like vowels, consonants, fricatives, plosives etc. It is not a formal requirement in the course but the knowledge of these along with ability to identify them and their effect on the reader is a major addition to your analysis and examiners greatly appreciate it. My teacher introduced this to my class, however, your teacher may not as it is not a formal requirement. Hence, if you are interested, you can approach your teacher on special request or learn from your IB online tutors.
  • Details! Details! Details! Observe, think and be creative with every single detail in your essay. Analyze every line of the extract, think if the effect of the literary feature is related to your focus or could be related to so and then think of how you would enact it. Describe every moment you would make if you are enacting it and write it in past tense in your essay. Imagining yourself enacting and speaking out dialogues or actually doing it with your friends can be really helpful. Speak with your online IB tutor for ideas.

This is my guide to you, as a student of the English Literature and Performance. These tips and tricks worked for me and I hope they will get you 7 points in the written coursework as well. Baccalaureate Classes are always there to help you whenever you need it!

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