English Literature A level

The course covers a varied range of Prose, Poetry and Drama, both historic and modern, from Shakespeare and Blake to Hardy and Miller. The course best suits those who possess inquiring minds and capacity for critical thinking as well as a willingness to ‘read around’ the texts. It is a challenging course but one that will enrich the learning experience of those who follow it.

Entry Requirements

The course is best suited to those who have achieved a minimum of a GCSE B grade in both Language and Literature.

Course Content

The specification we follow is AQA Syllabus B: ‘Aspects of Tragedy’.

AS Level (one year):
Students prepare for two examinations on ‘Literary Genres’. We focus on Option A: ‘Aspects of Tragedy’, both assessed through examination.

A-Level (two years)
Assessment is through two examinations and one unit of Non-Examination Assessment or Coursework. Students need to be aware that texts covered at AS are examined at the end of the two year course alongside the texts studied in the second year.

1. Paper 1: Literary Genres
This will be a ‘closed’ examination lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes addressing three Aspects of Tragedy studied in the first year of the course.

2. Paper 2: Texts and Genres
Three further texts will be studied focusing either on Crime writing or Social and Political writing. This will assessed via an ‘open’ examination lasting 3 hours.

3. Non-Exam Assessment: Theory and Independence
This is a coursework component involving personal reading alongside the study of a Critical Anthology. Assessment will be via two essays of 1250 – 1500 words, each piece of work responding to a different text and linked to a different aspect of the Critical Anthology.


AS Aspects of Tragedy

Paper 1: Literary Genres: Drama. Written exam, I hour 30 minutes. ‘Closed Book’. 50% of AS mark.

Paper 2: Literary Genres: Prose and Poetry. Written exam, I hour and 30 minutes. ‘Open Book.’ 50% of the AS mark.

A-Level: Aspects of Tragedy

Paper 1: Literary Genres. A written examination, 2 hours and 30 minutes duration. ‘Closed Book’. 40% of the full A Level.

Paper 2: Texts and Genres. A written examination, 3 hours duration. ‘Open Book’. 40% of the full Level.

Non-Exam Assessment: Coursework portfolio of two essays. 20% of the full A Level.


English Literature is a subject that links well with numerous others, History, Drama and Psychology to name but three. Its versatility is ideal for the development of skills relevant and transferable to a number of different careers or Higher Education courses. For this reason alone, it is a subject that deserves serious consideration.

Where does it lead?

This subject is very versatile, developing skills that are relevant in a number of different careers or Higher Education courses, such as interpretive abilities, communication, an understanding of how language works, close analysis, and the ability to construct a well-argued case. As well as an English Literature degree itself, students of Literature might go on to study for University degrees in a range of subjects including: History, Sociology, Psychology, Drama and Theatre Studies and Law. Even Medical Schools value the subject highly. Literature is a subject that can support careers in the above areas as well as Teaching, Business and Finance, Journalism, Publishing – even Politics. Employers tend to regard English Literature as an ideal topic of study and one that develops essential and transferable skills.

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