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English Literature A level at Shenfield High School

Course description

The English Literature course provides students with the opportunity to build on their enjoyment of literature established at GCSE. It is vital that students love not only reading but discussing the ideas raised through the texts- which could include aspects of philosophy, religion, class, psychology, gender, race and so on. The course covers a wide range of poetry, prose and drama and gives students the opportunity to research beyond the set texts. With the new A Level course, students will be expected to tackle unseen extracts and both open and closed book exams. The course approaches literature through the lens of historicism, so students will be expected to engage with the social and historical context of texts. Wider reading forms a crucial part of the course in order to prepare for coursework; as well as this, it informs and develops knowledge and understanding of the core texts. Reading widely also encourages and enables students to adopt a more independent learning style, a crucial skill needed for university.

Course content

The Year 12 course focuses on ‘Love through the Ages’ whereas the topic for Year 13 is ‘Modern Times’. The actual texts can change from year to year but choices could include Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’, Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, Plath’s ‘Ariel’ and Shakespeare.

Paper 1: Love Through the Ages

Study of three texts: one poetry and one prose (e.g. The Great Gatsby and pre-1900 anthology), one Shakespeare. Two unseen poems. 3 hours/ 75 marks/40% of A Level

Paper 2: Texts in shared contexts

Modern Times: literature from 1945 to the present day Study of three texts: one prose, one poetry, and one drama (one of which must be written post- 2000 texts to be decided). 2 hours 30 min/ 75 marks/40% of A Level

Non-exam assessment: Independent critical study- Texts across time

Comparative critical study of two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900. 50 marks/20% of A Level

Entry requirements

Two Bs in English Language and English Literature, though As would be preferable.


Two units are assessed through written exams. The other unit will be assessed through coursework.

Future opportunities

At the end of this course you may choose to progress to Higher Education to study for a degree. Literature is an extremely flexible subject and lends itself well to the study of a diverse range of subjects from Journalism to Law.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Shenfield High School directly.

Last updated date: 11 October 2016

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years