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English Literature AS & A Level at The Gryphon School

Course description

AQA Specification A’s historicist approach to the study of literature rests upon reading texts within a shared context. Working from the belief that no text exists in isolation but is the product of the time in which it was produced, Specification A encourages students to explore the relationships that exist between texts and the contexts within which they are written, received and understood. Studying texts within a shared context enables students to investigate and connect them, drawing out patterns of similarity and difference using a variety of reading strategies and perspectives. Specification A privileges the process of making autonomous meaning, encouraging students to debate and challenge the interpretations of other readers as they develop their own informed personal responses.

Course content

For the AS qualification you will study four texts in preparation for two exams:

Paper 1: two questions based on one Shakespeare text and one poetry text studied. The Shakespeare question will require the analysis of a passage from the text studied and the poem will require an analytical response.

Paper 2: two questions based on two prose texts studied. One question will require the analysis of an unseen passage and the remaining question will be comparing two of the texts studied.

Students should be prepared for ‘Love through the Ages’ by reading widely in the topic area, reading texts from a range of authors and times.

  • The four Shakespeare plays on offer allow students to study Shakespeare’s representations of love in a range of different dramatic genres: tragedy, comedy, problem play or late play.
  • The AQA Anthologies of Love Poetry through the Ages allow students to encounter a range of different types of poem as they study representations of love over time.
  • The range of comparative prose texts on offer allows students to study representations of love by a variety of authors across time.

For the A2 qualification you will study eight texts in preparation for two exams and one non-exam assessment:

 Paper 1: three questions based on Shakespeare, unseen poetry and comparing texts. The Shakespeare question will be a passage-based question with a linked essay. The unseen poetry question will be on two unseen poems. The comparison question will require the linking of two texts.

Paper 2: three questions based on set text, an unseen extract and an essay question linking two texts.

Non-exam assessment: an extended essay of 2500 words.

Entry requirements

Students can be accepted on the course if they have passed GCSE at grade C or higher in both English Language and English Literature; grade B or above is a good indicator of their aptitude for study at this level.


AS level:

‘Love through the Ages’ – 2 exams of 1hour 30 minutes each (closed book) = 100% of AS level.

A2 level:

‘Love through the Ages’ and ‘Texts in Shared Contexts’ – 2 exams of 3 hours (open book for Section C) and 2 hours 30 minutes (open book) respectively = 80% of A level

Independent Critical Study: ‘Texts across Time’ = 20% of A level

Financial information

Texts are not provided at AS level, and these will cost between £15 and £35 approximately, depending on the students’ choice of which recommended and supplementary texts to buy. For A2, no texts are provided either and the approximate cost of these will be £35.  We will offer theatre trips, when available, and recommend all students to take advantage of these.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 26 September 2016
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