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English Literature

Subject leader and contact

Rosy Hill : Head of English


A Level English Literature

AQA - Specification B 7717

Entry Requirements

6 in GCSE English Literature and English Language

Why study English Literature?

The study of Literature is, essentially, a study of humanity. Literature reflects human experience and social influences and is a product of its time; understanding the contextual influences on an author and their writing will help you understand how our present society is a culmination of all that has gone before. Not only will the literature you study provoke discussion about seminal issues of the day – gender, race, power – it also explores the commonalities that make us human: love, loss, suffering and triumph.

During your study of English Literature you will study eight set texts while being encouraged to read independently, widely and in depth. We will cover poetry, prose and drama across a range of periods and include a selection of contemporary texts as well as canonised literature. You will also be introduced to literary critical theory and have the opportunity to crystallise your own interpretations of texts through different critical lenses.
Many of the skills developed through studying Literature are related to independent thinking. You will learn to analyse sophisticated ideas and the ways in which they are presented, to synthesise large and complex texts, and to know how to build a convincing and formal argument.

Where can it lead?

An English Literature A Level will equip you with a plethora of transferable skills that are sought after by universities and employers. English Literature is one of the Russell Group universities' 'facilitating' subjects — so called because choosing them at A Level allows a wide range of options for degree study. You could pursue a degree in various fields including, but not limited to: English Literature, English Language and Linguistics, Creative Writing, Journalism, Drama, Media Studies, Communications and Law.
English graduates go on to develop a wide range of careers, the most popular of which are publishing, broadcasting, marketing and PR, journalism, careers of conscience, law, teaching and politics.

English Literature Extras

We will take groups to theatres to see relevant productions, attend the Cambridge Literary Festival and provide opportunities for students to listen to authors speak. There is also the possibility of accessing lectures at Cambridge University.

Course Content

Paper 1 Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy (40% of A-level)
Closed book, 2 hours 30 minutes
Section A: one passage-based question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks) 
Section B: one essay question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks) 
Section C: one essay question linking two texts (25 marks) 

Paper 2 Texts and Genres: Political and Social Protest Writing (40% of A-level)
Open book, 3 hours
Section A: one compulsory question on an unseen passage (25 marks) 
Section B: one essay question on set text (25 marks) 
Section C: one essay question which connects two texts (25 marks) 

NEA (20% of A-level) 
Study of two texts: one poetry and one prose text, informed by the study of the Critical Anthology. Two essays of 1250-1500 words each responding to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the Critical Anthology. One essay can be re-creative with an accompanying commentary. (50 marks)