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English Literature

English Literature A-Level


Examining Board

Specification Title

Specification Code

Edexcel (new)

English Literature



 Course Leader: Mr James Harper


What is it all about?

You will be well suited to a Literature A-Level if you enjoy reading, arguing your opinion, writing critically and have a keen eye for detail and analysis.  It is a rigorous and demanding course, and you will need to be a confident independent learner.


The college will be launching the teaching of this new specification from September 2022.   We will explore three different forms of Literature: drama, prose and poetry, and build on the analysis and debate that students will be familiar with from GCSE. A-Level stretches and extends – through text choices that may be familiar to students such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet to more unusual selections, such as modern poetry from a range of diverse authors from the 21st century.  


Lessons are focused around the teaching of the set texts, but will branch off in many different directions. For example, the teaching of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood may lead to in-depth research and debate surrounding revolution or the rise and fall of right-wing politics in North America. Students should be prepared to have lively discussions in class, and for good reason. The examinations are established around debate and perspective; at A-Level, English Literature is always about scrutinising a position or way of thinking.


Finally, an appetite for wider reading is absolutely essential. Not only will students be completing a piece of independent non-examined assessment, but they will also be required to read around their set texts. This might mean reading critical material or theory – quite a different mode of reading to that which they are used to. An open-mind and enquiring spirit is key!


What are the entry requirements?

5 GCSEs at Grade 9-4 including English and Maths.

It is desirable to have a Grade 5 or higher in English Literature.


What will I learn on this course?

You will learn a diverse range of skills.  You will become a confident critical writer, be able to analyse texts insightfully; you will learn about history, you will learn about language, you will learn about people, their motivations, and their passions. 


You will study:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare (and accompanying critical essays)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2002–2011
  • A sample of poetry from the Romantic movement


How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed by three formal examinations (80% of marks) and one written non-examined unit of personal study (20% of marks).


Your future progression:

English Literature can facilitate a wide range of future academic or work-based pathways.  Russell Group universities consider it to be one of their ‘facilitating’ subjects, looked at very favourably by the country’s elite academic institutions. Many of our students go on to study a Literature or English based degree.  It is a qualifying subject for Law and is a popular choice alongside History, Psychology, Sociology and Modern Foreign languages. Other related degrees include Politics, Philosophy and Media.


Who can I contact for further information?




About English Literature

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