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Titanic - performance and discussion

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Post 16, Post 18
  • Subjects: English, History
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30
  • Venue: Merseyside Maritime Museum
  • Free


The loss of the Titanic was a momentous event in world history but also for Liverpool's local history. Using museum theatre, students will be introduced to the personal story of a character from the ship and be able to question them further using hot seating techniques.

This session is available at 10.15am, 11.30am and 1.15pm, Monday to Wednesday.

Further details

education officer dressed in period costume with a notice about the Titanic sinking

©Paula Parker

The story of the Titanic has captivated people’s imaginations for over 100 years - in this session students will gain a unique insight into the personal story of a particular character from the ship.

Led by one of the museum’s role-players (not necessarily the one pictured), groups are introduced to the concept of using drama and performance in order to more fully understand aspects of the past.  

Firstly, students are asked to share any knowledge they may already have about Titanic and then, building on this factual side of the story, they are encouraged to think more about possible actions, emotions and repercussions for survivors.  By placing this famous story at a very personal level, students will begin to empathise more fully with people from the past and begin to see connections with themselves today.

Following this discussion, students will then watch a 25 minute long drama performance looking in more detail at the experiences of a character from the ship – be they real or fictional.  As well as providing factual information, this performance gives the opportunity for students to experience live drama in a museum setting.

During the performance, groups will be encouraged to think more deeply about the character and their personal story, their motivations, actions and emotions.  Immediately following the conclusion of the drama, students have the opportunity to hot seat the role-player in character thereby instigating discussion and possible debate surrounding such things as attitudes to class differences in 1912, reasons for the sinking and blame for the accident.

This session is perfect to tie in to teaching Fundamental British Values as part of SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development).  Looking at issues such as free will, personal liberty, the power of majority opinion and the effect of these on survivors both during and in the aftermath of the disaster.  

Curriculum links

Key Stage 3 and 4 – History

  • Know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.
  • A local history study.

Key Stage 3 and 4 – English

  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
  • All pupils are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

 Key Stage 3 - Spoken English:

  • Pupils should be taught to speak confidently and effectively, including through participating in formal debates and structured discussions, summarising and/or building on what has been said.

Key Stage 4 – Spoken English:

  • Pupils should be taught to speak confidently, audibly and effectively, including through listening and responding in a variety of different contexts, both formal and informal, and evaluating content, viewpoints, evidence and aspects of presentation.

SMSC and Fundamental British Values

  • Democracy - looking at how majority opinion can sway outcomes, ie people in lifeboats wishing to return to help others versus those who did not.  What may be the reasons for this and how would we react today?
  • The rule of law - pupils are encouraged to think about the events surrounding the Titanic in relation to differences in rule of law between 1912 and the modern day, eg with regard to lifeboat provision
  • Individual liberty - exploration of the motivations, emotions and reactions of passengers and crew as well as decisions made that ultimately affected the life or death of others.  Is there justification for these decisions or do we judge with modern standards and preconceptions?

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • be able to place the Titanic disaster into the correct time period.
  • learn more about a specific character’s story.
  • see how drama can be used to enhance history education.


Pupils will:

  • increase their confidence in speaking and expressing ideas within a group context.
  • improve their listening skills when taking on board others’ ideas and opinions.
  • be able to approach history at a more personal level thereby increasing understanding of people’s motivations and arriving at unbiased conclusions.


Pupils will:

  • begin to realise the importance and significance of class differences in the Edwardian era and how this would affect people’s lives and attitudes.
  • understand that human emotions and actions span across generations and link us to people from the past.


Pupils will:

  • appreciate the experiences of some people in the past and gain empathy.
  • wish to investigate the Titanic story further or research their own character to produce a piece of drama or diary/journal/newspaper article etc.
  • appreciate that the museum is an enjoyable place to visit.