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English Literature

Course Overview

The study of English Literature at A Level will allow you to explore a wide range of themes and ideas, from the nature of human relationships, to fate and freewill. You will participate actively in discussions and debates inspired by some of the most popular texts in the literary cannon. Shakespeare, Fitzgerald and Williams will feature, as you consider drama, poetry and prose from the classical period to the present day.

Honing your analytical and critical thinking skills, you will work to produce written work which is considerate, concise and sophisticated. Classroom-based learning will nurture your love of literature and foster a commitment to life-long learning through exciting and engaging learning opportunities. Role-play, dramatic recreations, discussion and group learning will all feature actively in lessons, allowing you to formulate ideas independently and consider findings from critical research. Ultimately, you will develop the ability to question not just literature, but the world around you.

Assessment & Examination

You will sit two examinations at the end of the course, making up 80% of the overall qualification, with non-examined assessment making up the remaining 20%.

Paper 1 (3 hours) - You will be asked to respond analytically to three questions of equal weighting. You will explore an extract from Shakespeare's Othello, using material from the extract and your own memory. You will then be asked to compare two unseen poems, and finally, to compare a selection of poems from the Pre-1900 Anthology with The Great Gatsby. You will have copies of the set texts with you for this element.

Paper 2 (2 hours 30 mins) - This paper is comprised of three questions of equal weighting. The first is a question on The Feminine Gospels, an anthology of poetry. Then, you will respond to an extract of unseen prose, finishing with a comparison of A Streetcar Named Desire with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Non-Examined Assessment - You will complete one independent coursework element under the guidance of your class teacher. You will research, compile secondary reading and formulate an essay focus which you will then develop into a 2500 word response. You may focus on any two texts of literary significance, one being written pre-1900, and the other post-1900.


You will be provided with the AQA Anthology: Love through the Ages Pre-1900, and will be required to purchase the other set texts yourself.

Prior Knowledge

You should be prepared to build on your knowledge of genre, contexts and ideas from the GCSE English Literature Course.

Beyond The Course

A Level English Literature provides a foundation for a wide range of career paths, whether that be tertiary study, apprenticeships or the workforce. Students will enter the next phase of their lives with a strong foundation in critical thinking, analysis and independent research skills. Journalism, education, travel and tourism and other such industries value the abilities literature students bring to the workplace.

Entry Requirements

GCSE Level 6 in English Language or English Literature.

  • GCSE Level 5 in English Language or English Literature;
  • GCSE Level 5 in Maths;
  • Four other GCSEs at Level 5, in addition to English and Maths.

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Mr N J Whittle