English Literature A-Level



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Course information download

Exam Board: AQA

Grade entry requirements:

To study this course at A Level it is recommended that students have obtained grade 5 in both English and English Literature at GCSE.

Subject Outline and Progression

A-level English Literature is a subject which emphasises creativity, disciplined thought and communication, plus an ability to synthesise and contextualise ideas. A level English Literature is a particularly suitable course for students who are keen readers and who enjoyed GCSE English Literature. It widens your understanding of the foundation topics of this discipline: drama, poetry and prose. At A – level, English Literature can complement many other subjects and can be a valuable contrast to scientific subjects, demonstrating a breadth of interests.

We study a broad variety of literature which includes Renaissance drama, thematic poetry and 20th century novels. Your study will involve: research based on social and historical contexts; classroom discussion; essay planning and writing and analysis of literary features. Students are taught in small groups and, when drafting coursework, in one to one tutorials.

Exam details: AQA Literature (Specification A)

Course structure:

Year 1 Content


Paper 1:

Love through the ages

Year 2 Content


Paper 2:

Texts in shared contexts

Non-exam assessment:

Independent critical study: texts across time.

What’s assessed:

Study of three texts:

Poetry (pre 1900 anthology)

Prose text (Gatsby)

Shakespeare play (Othello)

Exam will include two unseen Poems


Written exam: 3 hours

  • Open book in Section C   only
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A-level

What’s assessed:

Option 2B: Modern times:

literature from 1945 to the

present day:

Prose: The Handmaid’s Tale

Play: A Streetcar Named Desire

Poetry: Owen Sheers,     Skirrid Hill

Exam will include an unseen



Written exam: 2 hours

30 minutes

  • open book
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A-level

What’s assessed:

Comparative critical study

of two texts, at least one of

which must have been written pre-1900.

One extended essay (2,500

words) and a bibliography


•50 marks

• 20% of A-level

• assessed by teachers

• moderated by AQA

Skills that will be developed

A level English Literature has a high academic reputation with Higher Education institutions and with employers. An A level in English Literature gives students confidence and a solid basis for undergraduate study. The course is wide ranging and aims to produce students who are confident, well-read, have excellent analytical skills and are capable of expressing themselves fluently, both verbally and in writing.

Works well with:

Students of English Literature often also study other subjects such as History, Sociology and Psychology. These subjects compliment each other, particularly in relation to the contextual elements of literary study.


The analytical, discursive and creative skills which are developed are useful in many careers such as: journalism, broadcasting, advertising, law, social services, teaching and government.

Any expenses:

Students will be required to purchase their own copies of the set texts so they can be annotated and used for revision.

(Clean copies of the text will be provided for the examination)