Who is this course for?
Why do writers write? Not just to entertain their readers, or even to make a living. Great writers tend to write because they are fascinated by people and life and want to communicate their ideas about the world – their work touches us precisely because we can recognize what they are saying.
The study of English Literature is thus for anybody interested in how and why people live their lives the way they do: it involves thinking about life and death, love and relationships, good and evil. It is a subject that demands a personal response – if you enjoy curling up with a good book and expressing your views about it, then this is the ideal subject for you.
Importantly, it is also a subject that will help you to develop your written and spoken communication skills as well as think rigorously, interrogate texts for meaning and support your views with evidence.
Formal Entry Requirements
All students studying for A Level would be expected to have five GCSEs A-C in academic subjects, including GCSE English Language at C or above. In order to progress from AS to A2 students would need a D grade at AS Level.
What does the course involve?
English Literature can be studied in either your first or second year as an AS qualification, or over two years as a full A Level.
The course we follow comprises two modules in each year. It is a flexible course involving study of some set texts but also texts chosen by students; it covers the three genres of poetry, prose and drama and all periods of English literary history.
One module each year is assessed through an end-of-year exam and involves studying poetry and drama – post-1990 in the first year, pre-1800 in the second. The second module taken each year involves producing written coursework and allows for students to choose some of the texts studied. For example, in the first year students will produce a piece of creative writing based on a novel or book of short stories chosen from a list of over thirty, including texts as wide-ranging as science fiction and romance.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment for English Literature is 60% by examination and 40% by coursework.
AS-level: one exam (Poetry and Drama 1) and one portfolio of coursework (one piece of creative writing and commentary responding to a prose text chosen by the student plus an essay responding to two prose texts, one set and the second chosen from a short list of options).
A2-level: one exam (Poetry and Drama 2) and one portfolio of coursework (one long essay responding to three texts, two of which are chosen by the student).
Where can I go next?
Most A-level students go on to study at university. Students who have studied English Literature often follow the subject at degree level or study for a related subject such as History, Law or Film Studies or a vocational degree such as Journalism.
An AS or A-Level in English Literature is a widely recognised and well-respected qualification, welcomed by employers and universities alike, as they appreciate that anyone who has passed the subject has good communication and analytical skills. It leads naturally to a wide range of careers such as journalism, law, the civil service, teaching and many others.