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English Literature

A level

This course is ideal for you if you enjoy reading in your own time and if you are interested in analysing novels, plays and poetry and find this satisfying. Learning methods vary and include answering questions, writing essays, exploring the meaning created in texts, watching DVDs, creating displays, individual research, and extra-curricular activities, such as watching texts in performance.

You will work in pairs and in small groups, in addition to taking part in larger group discussions. As well as learning in the classroom, you will be expected to carry out a substantial amount of reading and writing tasks in your own time.


Course content

You will study drama and poetry including at least one play by Shakespeare. You will also study prose texts which will be linked by theme or context. This will include a literary topic from the following list:

  • American Literature
  • The Gothic
  • Dystopian Literature
  • Women in Literature
  • The Immigrant Experience

You will learn to identify and comment on writers’ uses and effects of language, form and structure. Areas of study will include themes, character, motifs, setting, textual structures, narrative methods. You will also learn to make links between texts and to research and analyse the influences of contexts on the texts you are studying. This includes the fascinating ways literary texts both reveal and challenge attitudes and values of the cultures in which they were produced.

As well as the set texts, you will read some literary criticism and discuss the different ways readers interpret texts.

You will also complete a coursework folder. This will be a study of literature from across the genres of poetry, drama and prose. This will consist of a close analysis and a ‘linked texts’ essay focusing on connections and comparisons between two texts.

Assessment will be 80% examination at the end of the second year and 20% coursework.

Is it for me?

You will enjoy and benefit from English Literature if you:

  • are an avid reader who enjoys studying a wide variety of texts from different eras;
  • would like to analyse texts in detail and enjoy debating and expressing your own views and personal responses;
  • are keen to carry out independent research and enjoy writing.

Special features

There is 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.


Entry requirements

At least 7 Grade 4s at GCSE in a range of subjects including Maths; Grade 5 in English Language and Grade 5 in English Literature if taken at GCSE level.



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