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English Literature

English Literature -A Level

Examining Board

Specification Title

Specification Code


English Literature (spec B)




Course Leader: Mr James Harper

What’s 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 course is themed around the genres of Tragedy and Political and Social Protest writing.   We explore the development of Tragedy from its roots in ancient Greece through to the modern day.   You will explore how narratives work and explore a range of different forms: poetry, prose and drama; analyse texts as products of their time and consider the function literature has played in shaping our culture. You will also explore how different texts have been used as a tool for political and social protest.


Lessons are focused around the teaching of the set texts, but will branch off in many different directions. For example, the teaching of William Blake may lead to in-depth research and debate surrounding child exploitation or the rise of the Industrial Revolution. 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 two pieces 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:

  • A collection of political and social protest writing
  • Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • A modern play: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  • A collection of poetry by John Keats
  • A Critical anthology of theoretical writing


How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed by two 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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