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English Literature is all about your response to a wide variety of literary texts.

You are encouraged to form your own opinions, both on paper and in discussion with others, and to develop your skills of literary analysis.

You will read widely and build your understanding of the contexts in which the texts are written and received. You will also respond to critical responses to these texts from other readers, writers and arising from class discussion.

You will have the opportunity to attend theatre visits when available and to take part in our occasional lecture series to enhance your wider reading and literary appreciation.


Year 1

  • You will study two plays, Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde and Betrayal by Harold Pinter, comparing the way playwrights deal with similar themes of love and betrayal and the underlying social issues of class and gender roles.
  • You will compare the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
  • At the end of your first year you will start to prepare for a comparative study of modern prose in a non-exam essay (your coursework). With your teacher’s help, you can choose many themes and issues to compare.
  • You will also study a variety of shorter prose extracts and poems for an ‘unseen’ paper. This enables you to develop your knowledge of a wide range of genres, styes and literary periods, as well as to hone your skills of literary analysis.

Year 2

  • The year starts with the completion of your long prose essay (coursework).
  • You will then study a Shakespeare play, looking at language, dramatic effects, themes and varied contexts.
  • You will study the poetry of romantic poet John Keats and learn about the critical responses and the context of his work.

You will need (or equivalent to);

  • GCSE Mathematics grade 4/C or above
  • GCSE English Language or Literature grade 4/C or above
  • plus three more GCSEs grade 4/C or above

The course is assessed through three exams (worth 80% of your grade) and a coursework unit (worth 20%).

The exams are on poetry (30%), drama (30%) and an unseen text analysis (20%).

The ‘non exam unit’ is an extended essay (3,500 words) comparing prose texts.

Several of our former students are journalists with top newspapers and we have at least one novelist. Others have used Literature as a basis for research, analysis, dealing with complex ‘texts’ and ideas in many ways – in the Civil Service, Armed Services, Academia, Banking or on Film and Stage.

Other possible progression routes are into Teaching, Marketing, Copywriting and Librarianship.

Is the subject the same as GCSE Literature (or much harder!?)

Neither, you are able to take longer to study texts and use your own ideas more often when supported by a range of critical and contextual details which you research and use to illuminate your interpretations.

All the skills you used for GCSE make an excellent foundation for A Level.

Which English course should I choose, Language or Literature?

English Literature is an ideal course if you enjoy reading, want to find out more about poetry, prose and drama, enjoy using your ideas to help you to interpret meaning and like discussing them with others.