English Literature GCSE

A Subject for Life

English Literature at GCSE aims to engage students and develop their enthusiasm for literature, enabling them to develop an understanding of the ways in which literature is rich and influential. The course involves the discussion and exploration of many of the key themes in all literature: relationships, love, loss, rejection, conflict and power and many more. Studying English Literature can be challenging but it is immensely rewarding.

English Literature is compulsory at GCSE unless students are studying for their IELTS examinations.

Course Content

The specification we follow is the WJEC Syllabus. Students will develop and sustain independent interpretations of texts, supporting their ideas with detailed textual references. Students will also analyse the connections between texts and gain an understanding of how text relate to their social and historical contexts, and to the literary traditions of which they are part.

GCSE Level content:

Year 10

1. Study of a contemporary (different cultures) prose text (either Of Mice and Men/Anita and Me/To Kill a Mockingbird) and contemporary poetry comparison tasks.
2. Study of a Shakespeare play (not Othello) and a selection of 15 thematically linked poems.

Year 11

1. Study of Othello by Shakespeare
2. Study of About a Boy by Nick Hornby


The qualification is made up of two externally assessed units, and one internally assessed unit. The two externally assessed units test students’ knowledge and understanding of prose from different cultures, contemporary unseen poetry and literary heritage and contemporary drama/prose. The internally assessed units tests students’ knowledge and understanding of a play by Shakespeare and Welsh writing in English.

External Assessment

Unit 1: Prose (different Cultures) and poetry (contemporary)

Section A: (21%) Two questions, one extract question which requires close reading and one essay question relating to the text as a whole.
Section B: ( 14%) One question asking students to respond, explore and compare two contemporary unseen poems.

Unit 2a: (40%)

Students are tested on their knowledge of a heritage drama text (Othello) and a contemporary prose text (About a Boy). It requires students to answer two questions on each text, one extract question and one essay question relating to the text as a whole.

Internal Assessment

Unit 3: (25%)

Section A: Shakespeare – Assessment is based on a thematic essay questions on a Shakespeare play.
Section B: Welsh Writing in English – Assessment is based on a group of 15 thematically linked poems taken from the Library of Wales anthology.

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