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English Literature

A level

Do you enjoy reading in your spare time? Do you find analysing novels, plays and poetry interesting and satisfying? On our English Literature course, you will study themes, character, motifs, setting, textual structures and narrative methods, learning how to identify and comment on writers’ uses of language, form and structure.

Working independently on reading and writing projects outside the classroom, you will study two novels linked by genre (the supernatural), two plays, including one by Shakespeare, and two poetry texts, one modern and one older. In addition, you will complete an independent coursework project studying two texts of your own choice from any genre. You will also read literary criticism and discuss the different ways readers interpret texts.

Course Content

Your lessons will be varied and will include question and answer sessions, writing essays, exploring the meanings created in texts, watching DVDs, creating displays, independent research and extra-curricular activities such as watching texts in performance and guest workshops.

You will develop skills in communication and team-work as you work together with your classmates in pairs, small groups and whole class discussions and debates.

Year 1

You will study a selection of modern poetry, and one play written after 1900. You will also study two prose texts (novels) which will be linked to a literary genre, currently The Supernatural. You will learn to identify and comment on writers’ uses and effects of language, form and structure and to link this to relevant aspects of context. This includes the fascinating ways literary texts both reveal and challenge attitudes and values of the cultures in which they were produced.

The books we currently study are: Dracula (Bram Stoker), The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters), A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams), Poems of the Decade (Forward poetry anthology 2001-2010). These may be subject to change.


Year 2

You will study a Shakespeare play, along with an anthology of critical views, considering aspects of the genre of dramatic tragedy. You will also study a second poetry text, as well as two texts of your choice from any genre which you will use to write a comparative coursework essay.  In Year 2 there is even more emphasis on making connections between texts, understanding influences of context and carrying out your own research into areas which interest you.  This means that familiar aspects of literary study such as theme, character, motif, setting, structure, narrative methods will be covered in greater depth.

The books we currently study are: Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare), either The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale (Chaucer) or Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti. These may be subject to change.


  • 80% Exam
  • 20% Coursework
  • Exam Board: Edexcel

Special Features

We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities, including theatre trips to the Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company, conferences, poetry readings and visits to museums such as the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge.

We also attend lectures and discussions led by universities such as Queen Mary, University of London, and Royal Holloway.

Entry Requirements

  • At least 7 GCSEs at Grade 4, including GCSE Maths.
  • Grade 5 in GCSE English Language.
  • Grade 5 in GCSE English Literature if taken.

Please note; you may be required to pay course costs towards your study on this course. Please click here for a full list of 2021/2022 course costs. 

After Long Road

The study of English Literature at this level can lead to a range of careers, such as publishing, teaching, marketing, advertising, public relations, communications, copywriting, journalism, the civil service, law, politics, editing, events management.

Some of the degrees being taken by students who recently completed their course are:  English Literature, American Studies, Scriptwriting for Film and Television, Law, English and Creative Writing, International Media and Communication, Linguistics, Education Studies, and Events Management.

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