English Language and Literature
A level

Novels, diaries, plays, travel writing, poetry, radio scripts, monologues, letters, newspaper articles, speeches, short stories.  Do you like reading widely?  Would you like to learn how to analyse a variety of literary and non-literary texts, and how to use these texts as a basis for your own writing?  If so, this might be the course you are looking for.

During the course you can expect to study:

  • How to write in different styles for a variety of readers
  • How to analyse prose, poetry and drama from linguistic and literary perspectives
  • How to analyse the language of real speech and how speech is used in literature
  • How to compare literary texts, non-literary texts and speech

You will be looking at a wide variety of texts and learning grammar and other terminology appropriate to the study of speech and writing.  Classes will be discussing the form and content of texts from different periods, and considering the effects of this variation.  You will also be writing in a variety of forms.

A variety of teaching methods are employed in lessons, including paired work, small group activity, whole-class work and individual tuition.  Independent reading and research are also important components of the course.

This is a new-style linear A level course.  In the second year of the course, you will take external exams that assess content covered in the first and second year.  These exams (along with coursework) will determine your A level grade.

The course comprises two exam papers and one non-exam assessment (coursework).

Paper 1: Telling Stories (40% of qualification) - This unit is in three parts and involves aspects of both literary and linguistic study.  The focus is on how places and events can be portrayed in many forms, from everyday conversation to poetry.

Section A - Remembered Places
You will study a range of items from an anthology of varied material relating to the city of Paris.  This will include the study of spoken English as well as fiction and non-fiction texts.

Section B - Imagined Worlds
Study of the novel 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood with a focus on the way narratives project a point of view in relation to characters, places and events (open book).

Section C- Poetic Voices
Study of a selection of poems from the collection 'Mean Time' by Carol Ann Duffy with a focus on how narratives are told in verse (open book).

Paper 2: Exploring Conflict (40% of qualification) - In preparation for this exam, you will explore how conflicts between people and in societies can be represented.

Section A - Writing About Society

You will study 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini; in the exam you will be asked to re-write an episode from the novel from a different perspective and in a different form with a commentary to explain the choices you made (open book).

Section B – Dramatic Encounters

In preparation for the exam you will study the play 'A Streetcar named Desire' by Tennessee Williams and will be asked to discuss the playwright’s portrayal of an aspect of conflict within the drama (open book).

Non-exam assessment (coursework): Making Connections (20% of qualification) - This aspect of the course involves the writing of a research report into a specific theme or technique which must investigated in literary and non-literary texts.  We will focus on 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens which you will compare to a non-literary text of your choice, on the theme of crime or childrearing. You will also be given the option to pick your own literary and non-literary texts on a theme of your choice and write about these instead.  The report must be between 2,500-3,000 words.

English language and literature would work well in combination with any other subject, excluding English language or English literature.

A level English language and literature will help to develop the skills of communication, analysis, critical evaluation, and systematic but flexible thinking highly prized by employers.  It is accepted at top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and UCL.

We would strongly recommend that you read ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood over the summer (preferred edition: Vintage, Contemporary Classics).  This will be the first text we will study in September, so it would be very helpful for you to read it at your own pace before the course starts.  It is a challenging text, so you might want to refer back to websites such as Sparknotes to check your understanding of the chapters.  Another great resource to help you understand this text is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale - York Notes Advanced’.

It would also be very helpful for you to read ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens before September as you will study this novel as part of your NEA investigation.

Exam Board

AQA Learn More

Entry Requirements

  • You should have at least a grade 4 in GCSE English language and GCSE English literature.
  • Ideally you should have a grade 4 in GCSE maths.
  • In addition to this, an interest in reading and current affairs is essential.

Employability Skills

  • Gives you the ability to understand others and express yourself for maximum effect in all situations
  • Broaden your vocabulary, appreciate the effective use of English by others and to gather and consolidate ideas from a variety of sources
  • Hone the ability to present your thoughts clearly, authoritatively and concisely
  • Higher thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation will prepare you for a range of careers
  • Articulate your ideas in a logical and clear way
  • Being able to select information to support your case and to piece these ideas together in a coherent piece of writing

Course Resources

1st year

The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) - ISBN: 9780099740919, Vintage 1996 (Contemporary Classics series), RRP 8.99

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) - ISBN: 9781853260049, Wordsworth Classics 1992, RRP £1.99


2nd year

A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) - ISBN: 9781408106044, Methuen Drama (Student Editions) 2009, RRP £9.99

The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) - ISBN: 9781408824856, Bloomsbury 2011, RRP £8.99

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