English Literature


English Literature

English Literature is an enjoyable and rewarding subject which allows you to study a wide range of interesting and challenging literary texts. English Literature has long been acknowledged as a valuable and prestigious A level. It still ranks today as one of the top subjects to study in preparation for university and is formally listed as a Facilitating Subject for Russell Group universities. English Literature is perennially popular as a subject for A level study at The Sixth Form College and is an excellent companion subject for History, Law and many other A level subjects which require analysis of texts and data sources in order to create arguments and present interpretations supported by evidence.

Course Outline

Students follow the AQA English Literature B specification. There are two examination papers for which students will prepare. They account for 80% of the total A level.

Paper 1: Aspects of Tragedy
The first paper is two and a half hours long and requires students to answer questions on texts which illustrate Aspects of Tragedy. You will study two drama texts, Othello by William Shakespeare and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and a poetry text, comprising four poems by John Keats (Isabella, or The Pot of Basil, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Lamia and The Eve of St Agnes).

Paper 2: Elements of Crime Writing / Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing
The second paper is three hours long and for this students will study texts which illustrate either Elements of Crime Writing or Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing. If you focus on Elements of Crime Writing, you will study two prose texts, Atonement by Ian McEwan and Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, and a poetry text, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. If you focus on Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing, you will study a prose text, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a poetry text, The Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, and a drama text, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. This paper will also require students to respond analytically to an unseen text.

Non-exam Assessment: Theory and Independence
The coursework is entitled ‘Theory and Independence’. It accounts for 20% of the total A level. There are two tasks, each one requiring an essay of 1,250 – 1,500 words in length. For the first task you will study a prose text. Examples of prose texts studied in the past include Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, Regeneration by Pat Barker, The Collector by John Fowles and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. For the second task you will study a poetry text. Examples of poets whose work has been studied in the past include Carol Ann Duffy, Owen Sheers, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.


Examination (80%)
Coursework (20%)
Examining Board – AQA (English Literature B).

Special Entry Requirements

GCSE English Literature at grade 5 or above is essential. In addition, standard A level entry requirements apply.

Prohibited Options

Students are not normally permitted to take more than one English course. However, if you are intending to study English at university and have grade 7 or above in both English Language and English Literature at GCSE, you may be permitted to take both English Language and English Literature, but only as part of a four A level programme. Students wanting to do this must therefore meet the entry requirements for a four A level programme.

Career and Progression Opportunities

English Literature is one of the most popular courses at university and success in this subject will also allow you to access all sorts of degrees and career pathways. Those students considering English at HE will find that Literature is often required for the most competitive courses.

Links to External Organisations

The department runs a Shakespeare Academy which has worked in conjunction with the University of Warwick, the University of Birmingham and Keele University.

Other Information

You will be expected to read widely, independently and critically, to work with others on research and presentation projects, to manage your time effectively and to prepare work for the lessons. From time to time we offer students the opportunity to attend a variety of trips including study days and theatre visits.

This information is correct for September 2019 entry.

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