English Literature at AS and A2 Level is a fascinating course. The texts we study span over five centuries and present you with a wealth of ideas and perspectives on life. The course offers students the opportunity to explore a range of texts and literary criticisms expanding and developing knowledge gained at GCSE. Lessons will involve a variety of learning strategies including group investigations, teacher and pupil-led seminars, close analysis and discussions and video interpretations of some texts. Obviously the key element of the course is reading; teachers assume that all students are keen readers of fiction who will want to read and write about more than just the set texts.



  • Essential (GCSE English-only students):
    Grade C or higher in GCSE English with
    Year 11 English target met or exceeded, and
    Year 11 Attendance being over 90% rising to 100% in Year 12
  • Essential (GCSE Language and Literature students):
    Grade C or higher in both GCSE Language and GCSE Literature with
    Year 11 English target met or exceeded, and
    Year 11 Attendance being over 90% rising to over 100% in Year 12
  • Preferable: Grade B or higher in GCSE Literature, and a Grade C or higher in GCSE English Language

Recommended: Grade B or higher in both GCSE English/Language and GCSE Literature



AQA GCE English Literature (Specification B)

The course is divided into four Units, two for AS level and two for the A2. There is one exam each June, and a coursework assignment each year. A summary of the range and number of texts required for study are listed below. The specific texts and authors will vary from year to year.

AS Level Course

Unit One:
Aspects of Narrative 2 hour exam (60% of AS or 30% of A Level)

Unit 1 will introduce you to the central position of narrative in the ways in which literary texts work, involving many different aspects of literary representation. Four texts will be studied, two from Section A and two from Section B.

• Section A – Prose post-1990: Arundhati Roy, Khaled Hosseini, Andrea Levy, Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks.

• Section B – Poetry between 1800 and 1945: Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost and Christina Rossetti.

Unit Two:
Dramatic Genres Coursework (40% of AS or 20% of A Level)

Unit 2 introduces you to aspects of the way tragedy is portrayed through drama. At least two plays within the dramatic genre of comedy. At least one of the plays must be by Shakespeare. Students will produce a portfolio of two pieces of written coursework.

• Piece 1: an aspect of comedy genre with regard to a Shakespeare play

• Piece 2: an aspect of comedy genre with regard to another play, usually within from the 1980s onwards

A Level Course

Unit Three:
Texts and Genres 2 hour exam (30% of A Level)

At A2, Unit 3 teaches you to develop ideas on the significance of genre. Texts will be grouped within the categories: Elements of the Gothic or Elements of the Pastoral (we usually study the Gothic). Students will study a minimum of three texts within one Element. At least one of these texts must be taken from the groups labelled 1300-1800.

• Elements of the Gothic – 1300-1800: William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Webster, John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer

• Elements of the Gothic – Post 1800: Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Bram Stoker, Angela Carter

• Elements of the Pastoral – 1300-1800: Andrew Marvell, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Thomas Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, William Collins, William Wordsworth and William Blake

• Elements of the Pastoral – Post 1800: Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, Evelyn Waugh, Dennis Potter, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Jennings, U.A.Fanthorpe, Norman MacCaig, R.S.Thomas, Tony Harrison

Unit Four:
Further and Independent Reading Coursework (20% of A Level)

There are a number of aims to this unit. The first is to introduce you to the study of a wide range of texts, some of which may be of your own choosing. The second is to introduce you to different ways of reading texts for study, including independently. The third is to introduce you to some critical ideas, and for these ideas to be applied with discrimination to literary text. You’ll have to study at least three texts, one of which will be a pre-released anthology of critical writing applied to a piece of literature. The purpose of the pre-released pack of critical material is to introduce students to some different ways in which the study of literature can be approached. Once you have studied the material you will then apply some of it to a text or texts of your choice.

• Section A looks at two connected schools of critical approach: Marxism and Feminism. They are connected in that they both approach literary texts from a socio-economic point of view, looking to see who has power in the world of the text, and whether the world of the text reflects accurately the realities of the world as we know it.

• Section B explores how meanings are made with particular reference to Metaphor. It looks at the topic from various angles, including the fact that all language is highly metaphorical, not just literary language.

• Section C asks you to consider some fundamental questions about studying literature. Is it possible to define ways in which literature, as an art form, contains beauty? Why are some texts given high status? Does reading literature offer you anything of value?



English Literature A Level is an excellent training for any employment involving communication. In addition, it provides a very useful background to further study in English, Media Studies and Theatre, Journalism, Education, Speech Therapy, Law, Psychology or Sociology.



English Literature is a very popular choice with students and student achievement is consistently high.  A Level results vary a little each year, but typically 85% of students achieve a grade C or higher, with 70% achieving grades A or B. The subject always has 100% pass rate. In 2012 over 90% of Year 13 students gained their target A Level grade or higher.



Mr C. J. Poole
Ms H. Snowling



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