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English Literature AS & A Level at St Brendan's Sixth Form College

Course description

This is a two year course in which students have opportunities to enjoy reading and analysing prose, poetry and drama. 

There will be three exams which will constitute 80% of the total mark. The coursework element is worth 20%.  The exam board is Edexcel and more information can be found on their website.  It is a requirement of the course that 3 of the texts studied must have been written pre-1900.  This means that, as well as the Shakespeare play and one of the novels, a third pre-1900 text will be studied.

Course content

The OCR A-Level English Literature course is divided into three components. We will be studying a variety of poetry, drama and prose fiction. You will be examined at the end of your second year, and you will also complete a coursework file towards the beginning of the second year of study.

Component 1: Drama and Poetry pre-1900

  • Shakespeare (The Tempest by William Shakespeare)
  • Drama and Poetry pre-1900 (A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen and selected poems by Christina Rossetti)

Written paper 60 marks (Closed text 2 hours 30 minutes 40% of total A-Level)

Component 2: Comparative and Contextual study

  • Close reading in chosen topic area (Unseen literary text - Topic: The Immigrant Experience)
  • Comparative and contextual study from chosen topic area (The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and Small Island by Andrea Levy)

Written paper 60 marks (Closed text 2 hours 30 minutes 40% of total A-Level

Component 3: Literature post-1900

  • Close reading OR re-creative writing piece with commentary (Brand New Ancients by Kate Tempest)
  • Comparative essay: Literature post-1900 (Selected stories of Raymond Carver and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

40 marks (Non-examined assessment 20% of total A-Level)  

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of 5 GCSE’s at Grades A*-C or at point 4-9 (including English Language). Level 2 vocational qualifications (e.g. BTEC/OCR) must be a merit grade or above and will count as 1 GCSE equivalent.
  • Students must have a 5 (C) in English Literature and ideally this will be a grade 6 (B).


You will engage in a wide range of learning activities including seminar presentations, library-based research and dramatic performance.  These and other strategies will help you to read texts closely and critically and to arrive at your own conclusions about their meaning. This is a course for students who love literature in all its forms.


Financial information

There are no course charges, but there is an expectation that students who are able to afford to buy their own text books should do so. If theatre trips and educational visits are arranged, these will also need to be paid for.

Future opportunities

English Literature combines well with a wide range of other subjects.  Through it you are offering evidence of high quality communication skills and an ability to be creative and analytical.  These skills are widely transferable and a successful student would be a good candidate for higher education and employment.

24% of Literature students accepted places at Oxbridge/ Russell group universities in 2016.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Brendan's Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2016

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