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English Literature

Type of Qualification:
A Level
Exam Board:
Grade 6 in GCSE English Literature recommended

Course Content

  • Paper 1: Aspects of Comedy – focus on the genre of comedy through the study of drama, poetry and novels. Three texts are studied. Texts may include: Twelfth Night, Emma, The Importance of Being Earnest, Small Island, Poetry Anthology.

  • Paper 2: Elements of Crime Writing – focus on the genre of crime writing with texts such as: Atonement, Brighton Rock, 19th century poetry, Hamlet, Oliver Twist.

  • Paper 3: Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) – studying a novel and poetry of the student’s choice, with teacher guidance. Literary Theory such as feminism, post-colonialism and Marxism are studied as ways to approach the texts.

    Texts are selected according to the teachers’ and students’ preferences and may vary from year to year.

Style Of Assessment

  • Paper 1: Two and a half hour exam
  • Paper 2: Three hour exam with access to texts
  • Paper 3: Non-Examined Assessment – two essays, 1500 words each, completed over a number of weeks

Whose kind of course?

A love of reading is essential. Also needed is an open-minded approach to texts and the ability to recognise and appreciate the opinions of others. Students must be able to write fluently and accurately. Lessons consist of seminar style sessions with plenty of discussion and sharing of ideas. Essay writing to an A level standard is developed gradually with plenty of support and guidance.

Beyond the classroom

Students are encouraged to read extensively beyond the texts required for examinations and the NEA. In order to maximise their chances of achieving the highest possible grade, they should read literary journals and study guides as well as reading a range of texts suggested by teachers. Theatre and conference trips are regularly organised by the department; recent trips include The Globe Theatre and the Jane Austen Museum.

Career Prospects

English Literature is a highly regarded and versatile qualification, respected and valued by universities and employers. It is a “facilitating” subject so could be offered alongside science based subjects for entry to a wide variety of courses, as well as careers such as media, law and teaching. It is valued for its focus on analytical skills, debate and evaluation – vital skills for university and the workplace.