English Literature

Exam board: AQA

Why study this subject?

English Literature is a highly regarded academic subject which will help students to continue to develop their writing, reading and debating skills. Students will explore a wide range of texts (prose, poetry and drama) and will be encouraged to consider different interpretations of texts and how each text has been influenced by the historical period and culture in which it was written. Students study a broad range of classic and contemporary texts, develop analytical and comprehension skills and continue to develop their skills as expert readers and writers.

‘It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature’ – Henry James.

How is this course assessed?

The course is assessed through:

  • Two written exam papers—80%
  • Non-Exam Assessment (Independent Critical Study) – 20%

Paper 1: Love through the Ages (40% of A-Level)

  • Three texts are studied: one poetry (AQA Poetry Anthology), one prose text (Wuthering Heights) and one Shakespeare play (Othello).
  • Section A: Shakespeare: one passage-based question with linked essay
  • Section B: Unseen poetry: essay question on two unseen poems
  • Section C: Comparing texts: one essay question linking two texts

Paper 2: Texts in Shared Context (Modern-day Literature: 1945 to the present day)
(40% of A-Level)

  • Three texts are studied; one prose (Oranges are not the Only Fruit), one poetry  (Feminine Gospels) , and one drama (A Streetcar Named Desire).
  • Section A: One essay question on set text
  • Section B: Contextual linking: one compulsory question on an unseen extract and one essay question linking the other two texts studied

Coursework: Non-exam assessment: Independent critical study (20% of A Level)

  • This part of the course is a comparative essay of two texts of the student’s choice.
  • One extended essay (2,500 words).

Where can this subject lead?

Students who study Literature often go on to study English Literature or another English degree, such as Creative Writing, Journalism or English Language. Students can go on to careers in teaching, the media or law.