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English Literature A level at Norwich School

Course description

If you enjoy reading, if you are enjoying your GCSE Literature course, then the opportunity to study English Literature in the greater depth and breadth of A Level will appeal to you.

We currently follow the OCR English Literature A Level specification. Due to the recent reform of A Levels, the department have chosen to follow a linear, two year course; this means that you will not be able to take an exam at the end of the first year to get an AS qualification.

Course content

The course is entirely a literary one, though your ability to write well is as important as your ability to analyse what you read. We would expect most of those choosing English Literature to gain A grades, or better, in both English Language and English Literature GCSE. Teaching sets are small (rarely more that 12), allowing them to operate largely as seminars; you must be willing to take part in discussion in order to get the most out of the course.

The course has three assessed elements: a coursework portfolio, worth 20%; an examination paper on Shakespeare and pre-1900 poetry and drama, worth 40%; and a synoptic examination, focused on a particular theme, genre or time period (for example, Gothic Literature, or Women in Literature), worth 40%. Both exams are taken at the end of U6.


The coursework portfolio is written on three texts of the teacher’s choosing; these will usually be thematically linked. Pupils will write one close reading (around 1000 words) of an extract or poem for Task 1 of the coursework, while Task 2 is a comparative study of the two other texts.

Exam - “Drama and Poetry pre-1900”

The texts currently available for study for the “Drama and Poetry pre- 1900”exam are as follows:

One Shakespeare play: CoriolanusHamletMeasure for MeasureRichard IIIThe Tempest or Twelfth Night.

One pre-1900 drama text: Christopher Marlowe: Edward II; John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi; Oliver Goldsmith: She Stoops to Conquer; Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House; or Oscar Wilde: An Ideal Husband.

One pre-1900 poetry text: Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale; John Milton: Paradise Lost Books 9 & 10; Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Poems; Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Maud; or Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems.

Exam Two - “Comparative and Contextual study”

The topics for the “Comparative and Contextual study” exam are currently as follows:

American Literature 1880–1940; The Gothic; Dystopia; Women in Literature; The Immigrant Experience

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 27 February 2017

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