English Literature

Exam Board: AQA

Course name: A Level English Literature Spec A

General Information

English Literature at advanced level is perceived by universities and employers as an impressive subject, taken only by the more able students. This is because it develops a range of analytical skills, and fosters a cultural and critical understanding that is prized in any candidate. Over the course, students learn a range of approaches to texts, considering the impact of context and historical tradition alongside the detailed analysis of language, structure and form.  

The aim of this qualification is to encourage students to explore aspects of a central literary theme as seen over time, using unseen material and set texts. Students should be prepared for the topics by reading texts from a range of authors and times.

The four Shakespeare plays on offer allow students to study Shakespeare’s representations of love in a range of different dramatic genres: tragedy, comedy, problem play or late play.

The AQA anthologies of love poetry through the ages allow students to encounter a range of different types of poem as they study representations of love over time.

The range of comparative prose texts on offer allows students to study representations of love by a variety of authors across time.

Students will study four texts: one Shakespeare play, one poetry anthology and two prose texts. They will also respond to an unseen prose extract in the exam.

Course Outline (AS/A Level)

  • Study of three texts: one poetry and one prose text, of which one must be written pre-1900, and one Shakespeare play.
  • Study of three texts: one prose, one poetry, and one drama, of which one must be written post-2000.

Coursework Unit: One extended essay (2,500 words) 20% of A Level

  • Comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900.

Careers and Higher Education Opportunities

An advanced level qualification in English is prized by the vast majority of institutions. It may be particularly suited to higher education study in the following areas:

English Literature• Creative Writing • Law •Medicine •Philosophy •Politics • History • Theology •Marketing/ Advertising •Media Studies/ Journalism •

Extra-curricular enrichment opportunities

To assist you in fully appreciating and analysing written texts, the English Department offers opportunities to explore theatrical performances and cinematic productions. Visits to the theatre and cinema are used as tools to boost student understanding, interpretation and critical engagement.

Additionally, you will benefit from the department’s links with Birmingham University’s undergraduate mentors, specialist graduate coaches employed within school who offer structured one to one sessions after school and workshops with the Chief Examiner to provide you with the inside knowledge that you need to succeed.

There is also scope for you to gain valuable work experience through our Literacy Ambassador Programme- a fantastic way to boost UCAS applications and future career prospects. The role involves promoting literacy across the school by organising and facilitating competitions for students.