English literature

English literature

What is A level English literature?

English literature is the study of the ways in which some of our greatest writers explore the issues that make the world what it is and us who we are. Through literature, we explore the lives of the marginalised and the obscure and hear voices that need to be heard.

Entry requirements

5 GCSEs at grades 4 – 9, across four separate subjects, to include GCSE Mathematics and/or English/English Language. In addition, a grade 5 or above is required in English Language or English Literature.

Subject leader

Nathan Camps

"English literature allows the thoughts of great minds in the past and present to be put in a physical form. I have acquired knowledge that may have taken me a lifetime, through the means of a single poem, book or play. Literature has helped me form ideas about my own life by making me question the human condition, and I think for that reason the subject is invaluable."

Ella Chadwick

what will I study?

DRAMA For the drama section of the exam, we will study one play by Shakespeare and, alongside of this, you will look at a number of other people’s interpretations of the play which we will compare with each other’s and with your own. Following on from the Shakespeare play, you will also study another play (not by Shakespeare) with a focus far more on your own interpretations and on the effect that factors such as the gender of the writer, the historical period in which the play was written or the society in which the writer lived affect the play’s creation. And how our own context affects the way we watch or read it. PROSE Here we will study a pair of novels linked by a theme such as childhood, science or crime. We will study the ways in which writers use language to present their ideas through character, action and place and we will compare the different ways through which different writers explore similar issues. POETRY In this section, we will study a number of different poems and poets in order to look at the ways poetry can be used to examine different topic and issues and we will also look at the ways in which different historical literary periods, groups of poets or individual writers differ from each other in their treatment of these topic and issues. We will look in detail at a specified poet or group of poets so that you become an expert in an area of English poetry but also equip you with the skills necessary to explore any poem from any period so that you can respond authoritatively to poems you have never seen before. COURSEWORK For coursework, you will take charge of your own learning and design your own assessment with guidance from your teacher. You will be able to choose two texts that appeal to you and use them as the basis for your own discussion of the issues that link them. You will have the opportunity to apply all that you have learned from the course to discuss the issues that most interest you in texts that you have selected.

additional activities with this subject

English Literature students benefit from a wide range of extra-curricular activities including theatre trips, conferences and visiting speakers. We also arrange a number of trips to University English departments to experience the study of English Literature at a higher level from some of the most prestigious people in the subject.


For September 2021


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