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English Literature AS/A Level at Croesyceiliog School

Course description

The ‘A’ level English Literature course is designed to:

  • improve students’ ability to read and judge texts critically, building upon skills of exploration, analysis and appreciation developed at GCSE.
  • encourage students’ interest in, and understanding of, human nature, its problems, conflicts and complexities, as reflected in literature.
  • enable students to acquire the necessary skills and terminology for expressing ideas and opinions in a clear, relevant and organised way both in speaking and writing.
  • stimulate a love of reading for pleasure.
  • introduce students to the great literary heritage of the English language, from the Middle Ages to twentieth century America, in all its rich diversity.

Course content

The AS and A2 courses changed quite considerably in September 2008 and there is an increased emphasis on independent study and creative responses to literature. The new course is designed to stretch and challenge students.

During the two year course students study a total of twelve texts of varied styles and from different periods covering the three main genres of prose, poetry and drama. Seven “core” texts are studied in detail while four “partner” texts are read to illuminate students’ understanding of the core texts. A new element of the course demands that students are encouraged to select some of these “partner” texts themselves, meaning that a real interest in reading for pleasure is even more important for those choosing to study literature at this level.

Some examples of “core” texts which may be studied include:

  • The poetry of Carol Ann Duffy
  • “Kindertransport” by Diane Samuels
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  • Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”
  • Shakespeare’s “King Lear”
  • “The Prelude Books 1 and 2 (1805)” by William Wordsworth
  • “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
  • Some examples of “partner” texts which may be studied are:
  • Sheenagh Pugh’s “Selected Poems”
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Emma” by Jane Austen
  • Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”
  • A choice of modern novels

Students will be required to read each text in advance in order to prepare for teacher-led discussion of key themes, presentation of character, writers’ stylistic choices, etc. They will consider the historical and cultural backgrounds of the set works and use other readers’ views to reach their own independent responses to “core” texts as well as making specific and productive links with the “partner” texts.

There is compulsory coursework in each year, including a creative reading response to a novel of their choice in Year 12 and an extended period or genre study in Year 13. Students then sit an open text AS exam in Year 12 and a closed text exam in May or June at the end of Year 13.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum 5 A* to C grades.
  • A minimum of a grade C in Maths and English.

Any student wishing to succeed at ‘A’ Level should have studied GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature and have sat Higher Tier examinations. Students are required to have achieved at least a grade B in both subjects.

The kind of student who would be best suited for ‘A’ Level English Literature is one who has enjoyed GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. A habit of reading for pleasure is also a definite bonus, along with an interest in films, plays and the media. There is no assessment of oral skills at ‘A’ Level, but a willingness to discuss ideas with the rest of the group, in a lively and informative way, is important.


At the end of the course, our students will emerge critically aware of the world around them, armed with well informed views and able to express those views with clarity, precision and confidence.

Future opportunities

Most universities and colleges offer English Literature degree courses or include the subject in a combined arts course. ‘A’ Level English Literature is also a favoured subject for entry into a wide variety of courses such as American Studies and Media.

The course is helpful for those students who are thinking of studying other subjects at degree level, since the critical, analytical and organisational skills developed are relevant to most courses. Career opportunities are vast and very varied, ranging from law, advertising, journalism and other media-related  professions to marketing, retailing, personnel, psychology and teaching at primary and secondary levels. The qualification is, of course, well established and respected by employers and college entrance officers alike.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 19 December 2014

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1-2 years

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