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

Course description

The current A-Level English Language course aims to combine learning about the nature and functions of language, with the development of a variety of different writing skills.

The specification for English Language at AS/A-level is designed to engage students in a study of the hidden depths and purposes of the English language at work in everyday contexts.

The course maintains a balance between theoretical knowledge about language and practical investigation and the further development of personal expertise in reading and writing.

Course content

There are two qualifications provided. The two AS modules will enable students to explore the fundamental structures and functions of language within different social contexts. At A-level, the AS knowledge is built on and developed to include further topic areas and the opportunity to demonstrate individual expertise written text production.

Entry requirements

Grades B or above in both English Language and English Literature at GCSE are prerequisites for this course. It is expected that students will have a real interest in writing, in reading and in language as a whole subject area. Students will be expected to be able to work in groups and on their own. The capacity for hard work is, of course, essential.


AS consists of two written exams.

Paper 1 explores language and the individual and focuses on a range of spoken and written language in use. The roles of purposes, audiences and contexts and their impact upon language production and reception are explored. A variety of extracts from everyday sources are analysed and used to interrogate relationships between writers, speakers and audiences as well as looking at the importance of language for self-representation.

Paper 2 explores language diversity within a variety of real world examples of data. Students will study how language constructs identity within various social groups. Gendered language, language from various social groups and occupations and regional and national varieties of language are all studied, along with attitudes and theories surrounding language diversity.

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

Paper 1 This is the study of language in both an individual and societal context. This paper builds on the knowledge gained from paper 1 of AS and also includes the study of the spoken and written language acquisition of children from 0 – 11 years.

Paper 2 This unit draws on the language diversity studied in AS paper 2 and furthers this knowledge with the investigation of how language is changing throughout time. Students will study this variation and the factors which determine change, as well as the varying attitudes towards language variation.

Non-exam assessment - This unit allows students to explore and analyse language data independently and develop and reflect upon their own writing expertise. It requires students to carry out two different kinds of individual writing:

• an investigation of a topic within language of the student’s own choice.

•a piece of original writing and commentary


Future opportunities

This is a highly recommended academic subject, well-regarded by universities and esteemed by employers as an indication of linguistic competence and good communication skills. It is a challenging and rigorous course in its own right and it teaches skills vital in many other subject areas. Career prospects, therefore, are many and varied.

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
  • Duration: 1 - 2 Years