English Literature

Course content

The following topics comprise the A Level:

Component 1: Shakespeare, Drama and poetry pre-1900
Component 2: Close Reading in chosen topic area, Comparative and contextual study from chosen topic area
Component 3: Close reading OR re-creative writing piece with commentary, Comparative essay

What have students who have taken this course in the past progressed to?

Most A Level students go on to enjoy a university followed by a related career, most notably in the Arts (Languages, Literature, Journalism, Writing etc.). The in depth study, interpretation and analytical skills developed on the course helps students in a wide breadth of academic fields.

How will I learn?

You will experience a variety of teaching methods and styles, but the course is delivered in the classroom where a range of teaching styles are used and rich discussions are generated and developed with teachers guiding students with expert questioning to help develop individual interpretations of the texts.

In addition a strong emphasis is placed on theatre visits etc. to see and experience the texts in action.

How will I be assessed?

Component 1: Written paper worth 60 marks, using a closed text. The exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes in length. 40% of total A Level
Component 2: Written paper worth 60 marks, using a closed text. The exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes in length. 40% of total A Level
Component 3: Non examined assessment/ Coursework worth 40 marks and 20% of total A Level.

How much time should I be expected to spend on assignments, projects, field trips etc.?

At KS5 there is a much greater emphasis on independent study and learning. You are expected to develop an interest in the course, texts and authors, and use this to then inform your independent studies and exam answers. Furthermore engaging in secondary reading will also help you to contribute to class discussions regarding the texts. All texts contain an autobiographical, societal, historical and geographical context, and so ‘reading around the text’ to understand the social context, the author’s perspective and life experiences etc. will help you come to a more advanced, meaningful, mature and developed interpretation of the texts.

In order to achieve this, and also ensure sound understanding and be able to apply the learning and teaching of the course, a general rule of 5 hours a week for the course is appropriate. Of course this is only a guide, and you may need to spend some more additional time depending on deadlines and your own personal learning needs.

Which awarding body is the course validation by?


Expected prior knowledge

  • Our AS and A Level English Literature courses are designed to build on what students already know from GCSE and:
  • Encourage the development of critical awareness and understanding of individual works of literature.
  • Develop understanding of relationships between texts and of the significance of cultural and contextual influences on readers and writers.
  • Target the core skills every literature student needs to explore and understand a wide range of texts.
  • Allow students, within the A Level non-examined assessment component, to pursue more detailed study in a field of particular personal interest.
  • Develop the valuable transferable skills of sustained research and composition.