Cross-Curricular Pedagogies in Music and Drama: a Systematic Literature Review and its Impact on Practice

Following initial practice-based enquiry with PGCE drama and music students (Breeze, 2018) into the ‘powerful connections’ between subjects called for in the forthcoming new curriculum for Wales (Donaldson, 2015, p.68), the programme leaders involved in the project identified the need to develop the theoretical underpinning of their cross-curricular work as an important next step. The ability for learners to ‘integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines’ is identified as a vital part of a curriculum fit for the 21st Century (Marope, Griffin & Gallagher 2017, p.32), making an understanding of these pedagogies important for educationalists working globally, not just in Wales.

A systematic literature review was therefore carried out, interrogating multiple databases to gather material relating to cross-curricular pedagogies in any of the subjects forming the expressive arts Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) in Donaldson’s Successful Futures report (2015). The literature was reviewed in order to address the following two overarching questions:

1) What do cross-curricular pedagogies look like in the expressive arts, and is it possible to classify them?

2) What benefits, if any, do these pedagogies have for learners in terms of their learning, their behaviour and their wellbeing?

In terms of the impact on PGCE drama and music programmes, the theoretical material reviewed has complimented the existing practice-based enquiry, resulting in a clearer understanding of success criteria for cross-curricular learning and a greater awareness of misconceptions and pitfalls that need to be addressed when student teachers design cross-curricular learning episodes for their pupils. The result is that the existing PGCE drama and music programmes have a clearer spine of cross-curricular working running through them, preparing student teachers more effectively for the introduction of the new curriculum, and preparing PGCE programme leaders to design effective new ITE programmes for introduction in 2019.


Breeze, T. (2018) A Connected Curriculum: Working across Subject Boundaries in Music and Drama. Available at [accessed: 11th February 2019]

Donaldson, G. (2015) Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government

Marope, M., Griffin, P & Gallagher, C (2017) Future Competences and the Future of Curriculum: A Global Reference for Curricula Transformation. Geneva: IBE UNESCO