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English Literature AS/A Level at Brockenhurst College

Course description

A level English Literature provides you with an introduction to the discipline of advanced literary studies.

The aims of this specification are to encourage you to develop your interest in, and enjoyment of, literature and literary studies as you:

  • read widely and independently both set texts and others that you have selected for yourselves
  • engage critically and creatively with texts and ways of responding to them
  • develop and effectively apply your knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation in writing
  • explore the contexts of the texts you are reading and other readers’ interpretations of them.

This qualification gives you the opportunity to study literature across the genres of prose, poetry and drama, and to read around concepts of literature and literary analysis. 

You will develop as an autonomous reader and develop high level expressive and analytical skills. 

You should enjoy reading and discussing your response as the text is at the heart of all our lessons. 

There will be research and reading assignments, but assessment is mainly through essays so you should be confident of your skills in that area. 

You will study a number of texts in depth and as part of your wider reading.  As we aim to give you breadth of experience, please expect to read different kinds of literature, written in different historical periods by a variety of authors.

Course content

Component 1 - Drama and poetry pre-1900

60 marks (40%)
This is an externally assessed written examination. The examination is closed text.

There are two sections to this component:

  • Section 1: Shakespeare (30 marks)

The focus of Section 1 is the study of one Shakespeare play.
You will answer one question on the play you have studied. The question is divided into two parts. The first part requires close analysis of an extract from the play. The second part asks you to consider a proposition using your knowledge of the play as a whole.

  • Section 2: Drama and poetry pre-1900 (30 marks)

The focus of Section 2 is the study of one drama text and one poetry text. There will be a choice of six questions, each with a different thematic or literary focus. You must choose one question and base your answer on a comparative study with substantial discussion of both texts. You must refer to one drama text and one poetry text.

Component 2 - Comparative and contextual study

60 marks (40%)
This is an externally assessed written examination. The examination is closed text.

This component is split into the following topic areas:

  • American Literature 1880-1940
  • The Gothic; Dystopia
  • Women in Literature
  • The Immigrant Experience.

You will study two whole texts in the topic area, at least one of which must be on the core set text list for the topic.

  • Task 1: Close reading (30 marks)

There will be one unseen prose extract to analyse per topic area.

  • Task 2: Comparative essay (30 marks)

There will be a choice of three questions, one related to each of the two core set texts for the topic area and one general question which will not name a set text. You will choose one question and write an essay comparing two whole texts, at least one of which must come from the core set text list for the component. The other text may come from the list of suggested set texts.

Component 3 - Literature post-1900

40 marks (20%)

You are required to produce two tasks for your coursework assessment. The suggested word limit for the coursework assessment is 3000 words, excluding quotations, task titles, footnotes and bibliography.

  • Task 1: Close reading (15 marks)

A close, critical analysis of a selection of your chosen text or a poem selected from an anthology or collection. Approximately three to four pages of prose or drama or up to 45 lines of poetry are recommended. The recommended word length is 1000 words, excluding quotations


  • Task 1: Re-creative writing with commentary (15 marks)

An item of re-creative writing based on a selected passage or poem from your chosen text, with a commentary explaining the links between your own writing and the original passage selected.
The recommended word length for the re-created piece is 350–400 words with a commentary of 600–650 words, excluding quotations.
For both options, you are required to include a copy of your chosen passage or poem.
Both of these tasks must be based on one literary text.

  • Task 2: Comparative essay (25 marks)

For Task 2, you are required to submit an essay which explores contrasts and comparisons between two texts, informed by different interpretations and an understanding of contexts.
Quotations from secondary sources, whether different interpretations or contextual material, must be acknowledged by footnotes and a bibliography.
This task must be based on two literary texts.
The recommended word length for this task is 2000 words, excluding quotations, task title, footnotes and bibliography.

You may also take the AS level.

The stand alone AS level takes some of the compnents from the A level course but does not include the coursework component.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C with a grade B Higher GCSE for English Language and English Literature.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort.  You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

  1. You will be assessed regularly on written essay work that is conducted either as homework or under timed conditions in class and given feedback on your progress.
  2. Discussions and presentations are a vital part of our assessment process and you will be expected to contribute to those and reading exercises.
  3. You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  4. You will undertake mock examinations on each unit in advance of your final exams.
  5. You will undertake two final examinations, each worth 40%. Coursework = 20%.

Financial information

You will be expected to provide your own copy of each set text. Some editions may be specified by the exam board.

Future opportunities

If you are considering going on to Higher Education, a qualification in English Literature provides a wide range of opportunities for degree courses in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

An English Literature qualification is also welcomed for many different careers because it emphasises creativity, disciplined thought and an ability to synthesise and contextualise ideas.

Further information

Your interest in reading will be developed and challenged by this course. Each text must be read at least twice. We encourage all students to read widely, especially those who wish to study Literature at degree level.

We will offer opportunities for you to see drama texts in performance to add to your appreciation.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Brockenhurst College directly.

Last updated date: 18 February 2016

Key information