English Literature

English Literature

English Literature

Course Details
Careers and Higher Education


If you enjoy reading novels, watching plays and discussing poetry you should consider studying A level English Literature. During the two year A level course you will study eight texts, including novels, poems, plays and critical texts. The course provides an excellent basis for further study of English at degree level; it is also a strong foundation for the study of all those subjects which require the ability to think critically, analyse ideas or support a viewpoint. English Literature will also develop your interest in, and enjoyment of, reading for pleasure.

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements to the course are B Grades in English and English Literature at GCSE.


View our Survival Guide to English Literature created by our sixth form students below


Course Details

We follow the Edexcel syllabus. Students taking an AS level in English Literature will study four key texts. A further four texts will be studied by students taking the full A level. Students’ responses to the AS texts are assessed entirely by examination, whilst coursework is one component of the full A level course. Students taking the full A level who also take the AS level examination will be examined again on the AS texts at the end of the two year course.

Year one:

Post 2000 poetry, for assessment via a contemporary unseen poem.

One drama text (non Shakespeare).

Two prose texts (including at least one pre-1900 text.

Year two:

One Shakespeare play.

One collection from the Shakespeare Critical Anthology.

One collection of poetry from a selected time period.

Two texts for coursework.

How Will I Study?

Lessons are seminar style, meaning that all students are encouraged to participate in discussion and analysis of the set texts. Students may give short presentations in some lessons, while others will be based entirely around whole-class discussion. In addition to this, students will complete research on context and will read relevant critical texts


In order to do well in English Literature you will need to be prepared to do a lot of reading. You should aim to read other texts by your set authors, and critical works on the set texts. You will be expected to prepare, plan and hand in essays regularly, so the ability to write in timed conditions is essential for this course. As the majority of the course is assessed by examination, the development of essay writing skills is a very important component of this A level.

Outside Activities

Whenever possible, study of the texts is supported by trips to see relevant plays. In recent years, students have also been involved in book clubs in school, which have allowed them to read widely for pleasure, beyond the requirements of their A level course. Such reading is, of course, invaluable when students are making their university applications, and need to show that they read widely and independently.

Pastoral Support

Students receive a lot of individual tuition in relation to coursework, but can also arrange for extra help at any time, as appropriate. Staff encourage students to discuss any aspects of the course that they find challenging. Subject mentors are always available to offer extra help and have created student support booklets for their subjects.


AS/A Level English Literature. Edexcel Specification.

Components  for AS Level:

Component 1 –  Unseen poetry.

One drama text.

Assessed by open book exam. 60% of total AS.

Component 2 – Prose.

Two prose texts on a chosen theme.

Assessed by open book exam. 40% of AS.

Components for A level:

Component 1: Drama.

Two drama texts, including one Shakespeare.

A collection of critical essays.

Assessed by open book exam. 30% of total A level.

Component 2: Prose.

Two prose texts on a chosen theme.

Assessed by open book exam. 20% of total A level. 

Component 3: Poetry.

A collection of poetry.

Assessed by open book exam; exam includes an unseen poem. 30% of total A level.

Component 4: Coursework.

Two linked texts.

Assessed by an extended coursework essay. 20% of total A level.

Careers and Higher Education

Students go on to read English Literature at university- a degree which leads to a wide range of possible careers. The department are keen to advise students of the suitability of courses in terms of their interests and future career plans.