Literature and performance updates

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This page contains the latest updates on the Diploma Programme (DP) Literature and performance course.

The new DP literature and performance course will be launched in February 2022. It will be taught in August 2022 for the first time, with assessment taking place in May 2024. 

Bringing literary analysis based on close reading, the new literature and performance course combines critical writing and discussion with the practical, aesthetic and symbolic elements of theatre.   

The new course is grounded in knowledge, skills and processes associated with the study of literature and theatre. It aims to develop interdisciplinary understandings generated from the interactions between the two disciplines.

Below you will find an overview of the course. For a technical breakdown of the DP curriculum and assessment methods for this course, read the literature and performance SL subject brief (PDF, 471 KB).

What students learn in this course 

In the new course, students read and analyze literary texts, read and perform dramatic (play) texts, and, in an act of synthesis, transform a nondramatic literary text into performance. 

As an interdisciplinary course, literature and performance offers students the opportunity to take a course in two Diploma Programme groups: studies in language and literature and the arts, in a single offering.  The course asks students to integrate literature and performance to develop understandings and skills that would not be possible through the single disciplines alone. 

Watch an overview of the course below. 


DP alignement and rigor of the course  

The new literature and performance course is fully aligned with its peer courses in the “studies in language and literature” group of the IB Diploma Programme: language A: literature and language A: language and literature. 


All three courses share identical expectations of language usage, literary analysis, and critical reflection. 

The common studies in language and literature framework, including shared aims and assessment objectives, the areas of exploration, central concepts, the prescribed reading list, and learner portfolio, have all been utilized in the new literature and performance course, aligning it with its peer courses in the studies in language and literature group. Yet this framework has been adapted and, in some cases, reimagined to fit into the theatrical, interdisciplinary context of literature and performance. 

Finally, all three courses share a common, externally assessed exam paper: a comparative literary essay. 

Read more information about the alignment of the new literature and performance course.

Interdisciplinary learning and assessments 

The new literature and performance course is grounded in three learning processes: 

  • Engaging with literary texts,  
  • Analyzing and performing dramatic texts; and,  
  • Transforming non-dramatic literary texts into performance.  

The three learning processes are closely connected to each of the three assessment tasks for the new course. 

A student’s perspective

Smit Chirtre is currently a student at Harvard University. He is an IB Diploma Programme (DP) graduate from the International Academy in Troy, Michigan, USA. 

Alexandra Eguiluz

“When my admissions interviewer for Harvard worked his way through my transcript, he asked what my favorite class was; I proudly said Literature and Performance. Contrary to popular belief, he was more concerned with the left side of my transcript (the courses I took) than the right (the grades I got for each course). Indeed, Harvard, much like the IB, prides itself on its interdisciplinary approach that fosters different modes of thought, as opposed to simply exposing students to a wide range of facts and information. My ability to discuss Literature and Performance, specifically my ‘transformation’ of García Márquez’s Chronicle of Death Foretold, led not only to my interviewer being impressed, but to the start of a friendship. We still discuss various novels and plays to this day, namely how they have enabled us to reconceptualize parts of our worldview.” 

The advantage of an interdisciplinary approach

While students of the new literature and performance course will acquire factual, conceptual and methodological knowledge of language, literature and the arts as separate disciplines, they will also synthesize them together to create something entirely new.  

Investigating literature through performance provides students with a unique perspective of the work; likewise, grounding theatrical performance in literary understanding provides students with a deeper sensitivity to the process of theatre making. 

The ability to draw on different disciplinary knowledge, skills, and methodologies to engage with complex global challenges has become essential for success in higher education and beyond.  

Unsurprisingly, interdisciplinary courses, projects, and majors have become prevalent in higher education, and the interpersonal, collaborative, and communicative skills developed through the literature and performance approach are emerging as the indispensable skills of the twenty-first century.