English Literature

Qualification: A-Level

Awarding Body:
Length of Course:
2 Years

Students will study a variety of prose, poetry and drama texts. This will include the study of Shakespeare and various other genres of literature ranging from Renaissance Europe to the present day.

Studying for this specification encourages students to develop interest in, and enjoyment of, English Literature through reading widely, critically and independently. Students will also examine the theories and practice of literary criticism and learn how to evaluate others’ views, as well as their own.


A level Units

Unit 1 

Love Through the Ages: Shakespeare


Unit 2 

Texts in shared contexts:

WW1 and its Aftermath


Unit 3

Non-exam Assessment


Shakespeare Play

AQA Anthology of Poetry

Unseen Poetry

19th Century Novel



20th Century Drama

Modern Novel

‘Up the Line to Death’ Poetry Anthology

Unseen Prose Extracts



Independent Critical Study:

Texts across Time

Comparative critical study of two

texts, at least one of which must have been

written pre-1900



Written exam: 3 hours

40% of ‘A’ level



Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

40% of ‘A’ level




One extended essay (2500 words) and a bibliography

20% of ‘A’ level



Comparison with GCSE

There is some continuity of skills from GCSE English Language and Literature but the texts studied are more complex, varied and require a greater depth of study.



 Relevance to Further Studies and Careers

English Literature is an obvious choice at A-level for anyone intending to study for a degree in any Arts subject, but it is particularly compatible with subjects such as History, Politics, Sociology, Classical Civilisation and Theology, where enthusiasm for reading, essay writing skills and the marshalling of evidence are required. It is also a great asset to the student of Modern Languages, as the skills developed are those essential for the study of literature in any language.

Clearly this A-level may be a preparation for the study of English Literature at degree level, and is likely to be a requirement for such courses.

Graduates in English pursue careers in many areas, such as teaching, business, the civil service, administration, politics, journalism and some will move on from their degree to take vocational courses in other fields.

Entry Requirements

At least Grade 6 in both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.

Further Information

In order to cope with the demands of this course, it is necessary to have at least Grade 6 in both GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature.