Do you like reading? Do you enjoy discussing the books you have read and the ideas they raise? Do you want to learn more about good writing and explore a range of authors, past and present? This popular course will enable you to do all of these and more.
We study a range of texts, including plays, poetry and novels. Through class work, reading and independent research we will study the key aspects of literary texts, including the ways in which writers construct narratives and create characters. We will also study the ways in which literature can be assessed and analysed as well as how comparisons between texts can be made in order to gain further insight and understanding.
You will learn about different approaches to a text, about how to get more out of your reading and about how to write about texts in the depth appropriate to A level. The lessons will provide opportunities for discussion and other kinds of active participation. As part of your private study in English, you will also undertake some research into the social, historical and cultural background of some of the texts you study. Outside the lessons there are English-related activities available. You can get extra help with essay writing and study skills and there are trips to study conferences, to the theatre and to the cinema.
The course comprises three exam papers and one non-exam assessment (coursework).
Paper 1: Drama (30% of qualification – 2 hour 15 mins exam, open book) - This exam addresses a variety of critical responses to a Shakespeare play and also studies the principles of comedy or tragedy as presented in another dramatic text.
Section A - Shakespeare
Study of a Shakespeare play (we will be studying Hamlet) and a collection of related critical essays (provided by the exam board).
Section B - Other drama
We will be studying The Importance of Being Earnest.
Paper 2: Prose (20% of qualification – 1 hour 15 mins exam, open book) - For this exam students will be asked to compare two prose texts according to a particular theme; one of the novels must have been written before 1900. There is a wide choice of novels and themes to choose from, for example under the theme of Science and Society, our students will study Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein alongside Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.
Paper 3: Poetry (30% of qualification – 2 hour 15 mins exam, one question unseen, second question open book) - For this unit students will prepare for responding to an unseen modern poem, through the study of form, meaning and style; they will also be required to study a range of poetry from either a particular literary period or by a single named poet from within a literary period (we will be studying the poems of John Keats).
Section A - Unseen Poetry
One essay question on an unseen modern poem written after 2000.
Section B - Prescribed Poetry
One essay question relating to works studied in class.
Coursework (20% of qualification) - For their coursework submission, students will study two texts, one of which will be The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, and are required to produce one assignment which will be an extended comparative essay. The advisory total word count is 2500 to 3000 words.
English literature is a useful subject to add breadth to any A level programme and can be combined with any other subject except English language and literature.
English literature has long been highly regarded by employers. It helps to develop the skills of communication in writing and speaking, to promote critical, analytical and creative thinking, to encourage both independence and co-operation with others, and to raise awareness of social, moral and cultural issues. As such it gives access to a wide range of career opportunities. For the same reasons, universities and other centres of higher education welcome it as an entrance qualification for the majority of courses.
Please see below for careers and labour market information for English literature - use the refresh buttons to find out about different courses and careers, and use the left and right arrows to view more detailed information.
You can find the prep work for this course at prepwork.farnborough.ac.uk.
Q: What are the differences between the three different English A levels?
A: You already know what is involved in English literature. It is a subject that you have been studying for years all through secondary school. A level literature is similar to GCSE in that you read, discuss and analyse drama, poetry and novels and write essays. The difference is in the level of difficulty and sophistication of the texts. You will study texts that are centuries old alongside contemporary literature from Nobel Prizewinners.
English language is very different from GCSE English language - in fact, it doesn’t bear much relation to the GCSE at all! If you love all aspects of English, it is possible to take English language A level alongside English literature A level as two separate subject choices as they do not have any aspects in common. But you can’t take either of these with the English language and literature combined A level.
The English language and literature combined A level covers both fiction and non-fiction texts. Almost all of the texts are from the 20th and 21st century. In English literature A level, we study some much older texts such as Shakespeare which is 16th Century. It is important to bear in mind that language and literature does not combine content from the other two English A levels, but that it is a course in its own right.
Q: Is English literature highly regarded by universities and employers?
A: English literature is a facilitating subject - this means that is highly thought of by universities and respected by employers. Taking certain subjects opens up more university course options and English literature is one of a handful of subjects commonly asked for in universities’ entrance requirements. So the A level choices that you make in Year 11 can have a significant effect on the universities and course options open to you.
This subject enables you to sharpen many of the skills employers seek out. Being able to communicate effectively orally and in writing is a highly sought after transferable skill.
Q: What career options are open to me if I study this course?
A: Students who have studied English literature have gone on to a wide variety of successful careers including law, politics, journalism, fiction writing, blogging, teaching, marketing, civil service, finance to name but a few.
Q: Do I do any creative writing on the course?
A: There is no creative writing on the course but the English department promotes many national creative writing competitions throughout the year and some of our students win prizes and get to see their work in print. Some of our students go on to study on prestigious creative writing degree courses, such as the famous UEA course.
Q: Do I do coursework?
A: There is a 3,000 word NEA (non-examined assessment) module. This is 20% of the total A level.
Q: How many students are there in a class?
A: There are usually 18-22 students in a first year class.
The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) - ISBN: 9780713630404, Bloomsbury 1988 (New Mermaids series), RRP £8.99
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) - ISBN: 9780141439471, Penguin 2003, RRP £5.99
Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) - ISBN: 9780571258093, Faber and Faber 2010, RRP £8.99
Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry (Various) - ISBN: 9780571325405, Forward 2015, RRP £8.99