English Literature

A Level

English Literature

Why should I study this course?

If you love reading, have an enquiring mind and want to expand your horizons, studying A Level English Literature will open up new worlds for you. This course is a facilitating subject at Russell Group Universities, which will enable you to gain a highly respected academic qualification, as well as gaining a wide knowledge of texts and genres which will in turn help you understand more about culture and history.

Studying and applying literary theory will also expand your insights into issues such as gender, race, class and the workings of the human mind. You will develop high order skills such as analysis and evaluation. In the second year you will be given exciting opportunities to make independent and creative coursework choices from which you will develop valuable research skills – what better preparation for university and your future career?

Staff bio: Lisa Davies 

What will I study?

You will study:

  • A range of classic/contemporary texts: Shakespeare, drama, pre-1900 text/post 2000 texts to develop breadth and depth of study
  • Explore aspects of the Tragedy and Comedy genre
  • Apply literary terminology to your reading of texts to understand form/construction of meaning
  • Critically analyse texts and applying literary criticism to texts studied using anthologies
  • Analyse how meaning is created within texts using knowledge of structure and form to shape meaning
  • Evaluate context of production and reception in texts
  • Interpret connections between texts and their differing time periods
  • Form debates and arguments when focusing on the texts and interpret concepts and meaning
  • Have the opportunity for independent learning and choice in the coursework element of the course

Examination board


How is the course assessed?

Paper 1 - Drama - written examination 2 hours 15 minutes 30% of A Level 60 marks

Section A - One discussion question based on Shakespearean play A Midsummer Night’s Dream from a choice of two exploring theme and relevant contextual factors and ideas from your critical reading (35 marks)

Section B - Other Drama - One essay question based on A Streetcar named Desire, exploring theme and character presentation from a choice of two (25 marks)

Paper 2 - Prose - written examination 1 hour 20% of A Level 40 marks.

One question from a choice of two comparing pre-1900 text Tess of the D'Urbevilles and post-1900 text A Thousand Splendid Suns from the topic of Women and Society which contain a thematic focus and test your ability to discuss relevant contextual factors.

Paper 3 - Poetry - written examination 2 hours 15 minutes 30% of A Level 60 marks

Section A - Post 2000 specified poetry Anthology: one question from a choice of two. Both use the same unseen poem and relate to different studied poems from the Anthology.

Section B - The Romantics (1780-1830) - You will study a range of poetry by different poets belonging to the movement of The Romantics, in the exam you will answer one question from a choice of two. One poem from the collection will be specified and you choose the other to explore and discuss contextual factors

Coursework - One extended comparative essay referring to two texts of your choice, linked by theme, movement, author or period and selected from poetry, drama, prose or literary non-fiction. (60 marks - 20% of overall A level - 2500-3000 words).

What will the course prepare me for?

The course will give you a wide base of literary and interdisciplinary knowledge, developing your critical, analytical and research skills.

English Literature is essential for anyone contemplating a degree in English. This subject is especially compatible with Law, History, Psychology and Art.

Private study

As an approximate guideline A Level subjects each require 4-5 hours.

What materials will I need to provide?

Standard stationery items: a pen, a pencil a ruler, and a notepad. All reading materials and set texts are provided by the College.

How will I be taught?

Your teachers who will guide you through the texts using a variety of methods tailored to different learning styles, such as individual study, group work, quizzes, essays, discussion and presentations.

This course is for you if...

...you love reading, have an enquiring mind and want to expand your horizons. Also if you believe that you will welcome the prospect of developing research skills, thinking independently and engaging in critical debate.

  • Develop your critical, analytical, research and evaluating skills
  • Discover old and new texts and stories
  • It unlocks entry on to a wide range of university courses

Your application starts here

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What are the course requirements?

A minimum GCSE average of 5.3 with at least five GCSEs grade 9-4, including a minimum of a 4 in GCSE English Language or Literature.

If you are interested in joining the College we will arrange a meeting with an experienced subject counsellor who will help you to choose courses that best suit your ambitions and achievements.

All entry requirement details are correct at the time of publication; however, the College may need to make some changes in light of student demand, staff availability and external factors beyond the College's control.

What skills do I need?

  • Good reading skills
  • Flair and imagination
  • A mixture of creative and analytical thinking
  • A capacity for independent thinking and research