English Literature

A Level


The study of English Literature is a rich and rewarding experience. It encourages you to look beyond the written word and delve deeper into the minds and motives of a whole world of people, from many time periods and parts of the world. You will be exposed to critical viewpoints you may never have considered, and you will actively debate writers’ motivations. Most excitingly, you will encounter some of the greatest works of literature from the past millennium, and perhaps discover a new literary passion, historical interest, or way of thinking.
A level English Literature is a two-year course, which prepares students for the AQA a specification examination.
You must have a GCSE grade of 5 or higher in English Literature to study this course.


Do you enjoy reading? If the answer to that question is ‘no’ or ‘not really’, then this course is definitely not for you. English Literature A Level is for those with a curious mind, a real interest in reading, and a willingness to be challenged. You should also enjoy discussing a variety of topics, including dinner party taboos such as sex, politics, and religion!


The theme for this unit is ‘Love through the Ages’. 
Core set texts: Shakespeare
You will study one of the following Shakespeare plays:

  • Othello
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Winter’s Tale

Chosen comparative set texts: poetry and prose
You will study two texts from the following list: one poetry and one prose text, one of which must be written pre-1900

Texts in context: Modern times, Literature from 1945 to the present day

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Unseen Prose
  • A choice of comparative plays and poetry anthologies

The Non-Exam Assessment
This is where you can explore your own choices and preferences, follow themes and ideas that interest you and choose your own books to write an extended essay.  You will be guided and supported along the way, but you will be able to decide on your theme and write your own question.


An A Level in English Literature is extremely versatile and desirable. Students who wish to apply for any university course will be looked at favourably if they have English Literature, due to the transferrable skills in analysis and understanding and appreciation of social contexts.
Studying English develops your ability to use words to your advantage and to think and respond analytically. It is therefore particularly suited to students who wish to go onto further study at degree level, especially students who aspire for careers in education, law, media, forensic science, psychology, or business.


The course is externally assessed by 2 written examinations at the end of Year 13. There is also a non-exam component, which is a 2500-3500 word comparative essay between two texts of your choice – one written before the year 1900, and one written after 1900.

‘The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’

Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath