English Literature

  • A Level
  • Edexcel
  • Entry requirements: GCSE English and GCSE English Literature Grade 6
  • Goes well with: History and most other subjects. Literature is a hugely facilitating subject that can lead to careers in Law, Politics, Journalism, Broadcasting, Education and many more

This two-year course will provide students with a lively and stimulating study of literary texts. It is suitably demanding; leading students beyond the standards expected at GCSE towards the independent critical skills needed in Higher Education and the work environment. Over the two years, students will read widely and in depth, covering poetry, prose and drama from a range of contexts incorporating the Elizabethan period right through to the present day. Students will benefit from a range of approaches to learning including: close extract reading; evaluating critical responses to texts; independent study and research and discussion and debate. The course culminates in three externally examined open- book papers and one non-examination assessment component (coursework) which allows students scope to choose texts that are important to them.

Overview of study

In year one, students will study:

  • Two prose texts linked by theme. EITHER Dracula by Bram Stoker and Beloved by Toni Morrison (The Supernatural) OR The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Science and Society)

  • One dramatic text, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, exploring the genre of Tragedy

  • A collection of post-2000 poetry plus a range of unseen poems

  • Students will begin work on an independent comparison of two texts, one of which is their own choice, in preparation for their coursework component

  • Students will also take a module in applying critical theory

  • There are no external examinations at the end of year one, but mock exams will be held in Term 5.

In year two, students will:

  • Explore Othello by William Shakespeare as part of their exploration of Tragedy

  • Analyse a collection of Metaphysical Poetry

  • Complete the independent coursework started in year one

  • Return to revise the prose texts and modern poetry covered in year one

  • Final exams in May/June of year two


Exam 1 – Drama

A two hour open book exam focusing on two Tragedy texts including Shakespeare's Othello and A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. Analysis of Shakespeare also includes exploring an anthology of criticism on Shakespeare's use of Tragedy.


Exam 2 - Prose

A one hour fifteen minute open book exam that looks at the connections and comparisons between two novels. The texts covered (depending on teacher choice) are Dracula by Bram Stoker and Beloved by Toni Morrison or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.


Exam 3 – Poetry

A two hour open book exam which is divided into two parts. Part A will be exploring and comparing unseen poetry as well as poetry from an anthology of post-2000 poetry Poems of the Decade. Part B will focus on the poetry of Donne or Metaphysical Poetry.

One non-examination assessment component (coursework).

“I’ve loved English Literature because of the freedom of expression and opinion it allows, in a safe, friendly environment. The course is really interesting, I loved the chance to study more politically relevant works, for example The Handmaid's Tale or Othello”