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English Literature A level at South Downs College

Course description

If you enjoy reading a wide range of texts including poetry, plays and novels, then this is the course for you.  Studying English literature, you will spend time debating different interpretations and considering how writers create meaning through form, structure and language.

You will be expected to produce written assignments to deadline and engage in class activities.

You will be taught how to construct analytical essays and how to prepare for the exam by writing critical, creative responses linked to genre. 

Much class time will be spent in small group work exploring ideas and issues, getting involved in class discussion, watching films and theatrical performances, and working on preparing written responses to each text.

Course content

The two year course will enhance your ability to both appreciate and analyse a wide variety of literature and develop the skills needed to be able to write critically and creatively about plays, novels and poems.

The main focus will be on genre as the ‘lens’ through which the set texts are studied. 

In the first (AS) year, you will study Aspects of Tragedy, and develop the ability to evaluate the ways in which texts ‘fit into’ this genre.  The texts you’ll study will be Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller, and two texts by Thomas Hardy: ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and a selection of his poetry.

Entry requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English Language and usually Mathematics. English Language B would be preferable

You must have a passion for reading and writing


Year 1: AS Examination

You will sit two examinations on Aspects of Tragedy.  The first is on Drama, where you will write on ‘Othello’ and ‘Death of a Salesman’.  The second covers prose and poetry, and will cover both Thomas Hardy texts.

Year 2: A Level Examinations

There are two examinations.  The first is on tragedy and covers all three genres: prose, poetry and drama.  The second will be on Social, Political and Protest Writing. These examinations account for 30% of the total marks.

In the second year, you will also produce some two essays which together comprise the ‘Non Examined Assessment’ unit.  You will apply critical readings to two texts (one from the first year, the other of your own choosing), constructing a reading from a range of perspectives, including Marxist, feminist, narrative and eco-criticism.

Future opportunities

Many Literature students proceed to study for English degree courses. English can also be combined with many other subjects in very many courses.

Career choices include journalism, teaching, public relations, information services, working in the field of law, the media, and other areas where confidence and competence in communicating are valuable.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 05 May 2016

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