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Higham Lane
Sixth Form

English Literature


 How is the different to GCSE English Literature?

There is no correlation between GCSE English Literature and A-Level Literature. English Literature will allow you to explore varied texts across time and genres. The A-Level English Literature course will allow you to discuss current political topics and how writer’s reflect this.  The topics that we study we study reflect current issues: social and political issues and aspects of tragedy. You will also get to study a variation of texts from song lyrics to poetry to prose to plays! You will also have the opportunity to write about texts that you enjoy and of your own choice!


Will there be opportunities to explore areas I am interested in?

Yes! The NEA is worth 20% of you’re A- Level grade and what you write about is completely your choice! You will get to read a range of texts- your choosing- and write two essays. This is the perfect place to develop your critical and academic writing and to read deeply about texts that you enjoy. Teachers will be there to support and guide you. In the past students have written about: 1984, Brave New World, Feminine Gospels and Why does the Caged Bird Sing.


How can I achieve a high grade in this subject?

The key to success in the English Literature A-Level is reading! It is about immersing yourself in the subject outside of the classroom.


What careers can English Literature lead to?

English Literature is considered to be a ‘facilitating subject’ meaning that they are desired by universities as they value the key skills for English. Beyond being an English teacher English Literature can open the door to an array of amazing careers! Careers are in abundance: teaching, book editor, journalist, research, marketing, advertising, teaching English abroad, digital copywriter and magazine journalist to name a few!



A Level English Literature focuses on a range of wider reading, thus extending students’ experience and appreciation of literature. Offering clear progression from GCSE, A Level English Literature allow students to build on the skills and knowledge already gained and prepare for their next steps. The variety of assessment styles used, such as passage-based questions, unseen material, single text questions, multiple text questions, open- and closed-book approaches, allows students to develop a wide range of skills, such as the ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research which are valuable for both further study and future employment

Exam Board:

AQA A Level English Literature Spec B (7717)


The course encourages students to respond with knowledge and understanding to a variety of literary texts, of different genres and from different centuries.

For the A level, students will study a range of poetry, prose and drama texts and analyse a further two texts independently against a background of critical theory. The theme of the first exam will be Aspects of Tragedy and the second exam will focus on Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing. In addition to this, students will be required to write two pieces of coursework on a poetry collection and prose text.

A love of reading and analysing texts is central to the course as over the two years students will have studied a minimum of 8 substantial texts including:

2 from each of the genres of poetry, prose and drama

3 pre-1900 texts including 1 Shakespeare play

1 text first written or performed post-2000

In addition, students will respond to an unseen text in the examination

Example texts currently being studied:

Aspects of Tragedy—Othello, Death of a Salesman, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing—The Kite Runner, The Handmaid’s Tale, Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

Course Details

Paper 1: Literary genres

What’s assessed?

  • Aspects of tragedy
  • Study of three texts: one Shakespeare text;
  • a second drama text and one further text, of which
  • one must be written pre-1900

How is it assessed?

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Closed book
  • 40% of A-level

Non-exam assessment: Theory and independence

What’s assessed

  • Study of two texts: one poetry and one prose text, informed by study of the Critical anthology.
  • Two essays of 1,250–1,500 words. One essay can be re-creative with a commentary.

How is it assessed?

  • 20% of A-level
  • Assessed by teachers
  • Moderated by AQA


Paper 2: Texts and genres

What’s assessed?

  • Elements of political and social protest writing
  • Study of three texts: one post-2000 prose text; one poetry and one further text, of which one must be written pre-1900
  • Exam will include an unseen passage

How is it assessed?

  • Written exam: 3 hours
  • Open book
  • 40% of A-level

Other Learning Opportunities:

Students will be able to  support KS4 students with GCSE studies and lead A Level taster sessions for KS4 students.  They will also be encouraged to see live performances of their drama texts and participate in any study opportunities offered by higher educational institutes.

Where next with this course?

A Level English Literature is a highly prized A Level and offers a clear link to a wide range of first degree courses and career opportunities. It is especially sought after by Russell Group Universities. It is also very useful if you are considering degrees in English related courses, education, law, media studies, history, drama, creative writing, journalism or any of the social sciences. Employers value English literature as it demonstrates the ability to synthesise information, explore different points of view, develop a critical approach and express ideas clearly and cogently.


Click on the link below for a copy of the course details.