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English Literature AS/A2 Level at St Mary's Catholic High School

Course description

The specification for English Literature aims to encourage students to develop as informed, independent readers and critics of literary texts. This will be achieved through a course of wide and close reading.

The course maintains a balance between classic and modern literature of varying genres. Students should enjoy all types of literature and be prepared to undertake a range of reading and writing tasks.

A-level Literature students are encouraged to read widely and independently, engage critically, develop their knowledge of literary analysis and explore the contexts of the texts they study.


Course content

There are two qualifications provided. The two AS modules will enable students to explore the conventions of tragedy or comedy within drama, prose and poetry, as well as investigating the contexts and critical viewpoints surrounding different texts. At A-level, the AS knowledge is built on and developed to include further topic areas such as crime and political social protest writing.

Entry requirements

Grades B or above in both English Language and English Literature at GCSE are prerequisites for this course. Students should want to develop a real interest in literature and the capacity for wide, independent reading.


AS consists of two written exams:

Paper 1 explores either Tragedy or Comedy within Shakespeare and other drama texts.

Paper 2 continues these two genres within poetry and prose texts.

Questions are a variety of essay and passage based, and only paper 2 is an ‘open book’ exam.

A-level consists of two written exams and one coursework unit:

Paper 1 draws on the knowledge of Tragedy and Comedy from AS, and encompasses Shakespeare, as well as pre and post-1900 drama. This is a ‘closed book’ exam.

Paper 2 adds further literary styles to a student’s knowledge, and consists of an ‘open book’ exam on crime, political and social protest writing. Again, the eras of this prose and poetry are diverse, with texts taken from pre-1900 and post-2000. There is also an element of an unseen text in this exam, to which students will apply their knowledge of the genre.

Non-exam assessment - This unit allows students to produce a coursework portfolio which demonstrates their own individual interests in any era or genre of poetry and prose. Two pieces are required, each responding to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the Critical Anthology, such as Marxist or Feminist criticism.

Future opportunities

This is a highly-respected academic course which develops a challenging and enquiring mind, and the ability to think independently and critically. There are very many varied and excellent career opportunities with an advanced qualification in English Literature.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Mary's Catholic High School directly.

Last updated date: 11 May 2015

Key information

  • Start date: Next September