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English Literature AS and A Level at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form

Course description

A-Level English Literature is a challenging and rewarding course of study.  Universities and employers often look to recruit people with this qualification since it demands academic rigour and a confident ability to present cogent, well-researched and meaningful arguments. 

English Literature is purely critical, and looks at literary texts in terms of their meaning and stylistic analysis. It also examines the significance of historical context and critical theory. This subject also carries with it an important wider reading element. You will be able to explore your own areas of interest (particularly in coursework) and you will be exposed to a great variety of inspirational texts.


Course content

Unit One


Section A – Pre-1900 Poetry (open-book, clean copy) Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Tale.

Section B – Post-1900 Poetry (open book, clean copy) Sylvia Plath: Poems selected by Ted Hughes.  Ted Hughes: Poems Selected by Simon Armitage


Unit Two


Section A – Shakespeare (closed-book)  Henry IV Part 1

Section B – Drama Pre-1900 and Post-1900 (closed-book)  John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi.  Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire


Unit Three

Unseen Texts

Section A – Unseen prose:  Unseen analysis of a prose extract from either 1880-1910 or 1918-1939.

Section B – Unseen poetry:  One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen poem or poetry extract from any period.


Unit Four

Prose Study

Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

(Texts subject to change)



Entry requirements

Required: Grade B in English Language GCSE and Grade B in English Literature GCSE

Desirable: Grade A in English Language and/or English Literature GCSE


Unit One: Written examination 2 hours 30% of qualification

Unit Two: Written examination 2 hours 30% of qualification

Unit Three: Written examination 2 hours 20% of qualification

Unit Four: Non-exam assessment: 2500-3500 words 20% of qualification

One 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of two prose texts from different periods, one pre-2000 and one post-2000, nominated by the centre.

Future opportunities

A wide variety of courses and careers lead on from the study of English Literature. 

Students who have taken this course may go on to further study/careers in Literature, Journalism, Publishing, Marketing, Law and Teaching amongst others.

Further information


Regular theatre trips; lectures and Study Days at Universities; elements of drama and design within the curriculum; creative writing opportunities.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Thomas Whitham Sixth Form directly.

Last updated date: 21 November 2016

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