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English Literature AS & A Level at Durham Sixth Form Centre

Course description

In English Literature, a wide range of exciting texts and genres will be explored including: at least one play by Shakespeare; work from either the comedy or tragedy genre; at least one pre 1900 text; at least one post 2000 text; work from either the crime writing genre or political/social genre; at least one poetry anthology and an exploration of critical perspectives applied to a text.

Course content

Texts are explored in a variety of ways, ranging from whole class to small group work, from preparing display material to close textual analysis of the works under discussion. Dramatisation of specific aspects of literature is another strategy employed. Video and live theatre performances of set texts or adaptations of them are utilised on a regular basis to enhance students’ understanding. The resources of Durham Sixth Form Centre, in conjunction with the teaching methods used, enable students to respond through and beyond the traditional critical essay.

The course also requires the reading of recommended critical texts on chosen authors. Students are provided with a critical bibliography as they complete each text and will be expected to show evidence of wider reading in their written assignments. Students are encouraged to read widely around the prescribed texts. The Faculty supports general reading with a prepared Reading Handbook so that students acquire some knowledge of literature beyond the confines of texts studied solely for examination purposes.

Entry requirements

There are a range of courses and pathways available to you at Durham Sixth Form Centre depending on your GCSE results and academic profile. In order to enrol with us as a student, you must have the minimum of 5 A*-C GCSE grades (or equivalent). In addition, individual subjects have specific entry requirements, which will be discussed with you during the application and enrolment process. Students who do not achieve a grade C or above (or numerical equivalent) in GCSE English and/or mathematics will be required to continue studying these subjects at Durham Sixth Form Centre.

If you do not meet our entry requirements but are still keen to study at Durham Sixth Form Centre, please contact us to discuss your options.


Both AS and A-level English Literature specifications offer a course in which final exams are integral. There is a mixture of open and closed book exam papers. Students build upon the knowledge, understanding and skills they have acquired at GCSE: the course extends both their studies of and the range of their reading as well as developing techniques of analysis, evaluation and comparison of literary texts appropriate at these higher levels. Study will cover a minimum of four texts at AS level. The AS-level is examined via two papers, the first covers the dramatic genre, (Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and the Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde). The second paper is open book and examines Emma by Jane Austen as well as a range of poetry. A furtherfourtexts(so eight textsin total) are studied forthe fullA-level. These are:TheHandmaidsTale byMargaretAtwood,Poetry byWilliam Blake, TheKiteRunner by Khaled Hosseini, as well as a range of critical material from an anthology. At A-level there are also two pieces of coursework(worth 20% of the qualification). This will be based upon an aspect of the critical material, applied to two texts, one prose and one poetry.

Future opportunities

The Literature notice board is regularly updated with articles from contemporary sources to keep students informed of issues relevant to their study of Literature.

Further information

English Literature can lead to numerous arts based courses in higher education as well as to a wide range of post-18 career options. A Literature-based A-level is a most marketable A-level subject.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Durham Sixth Form Centre directly.

Last updated date: 13 January 2017
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Key information


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    • Durham Sixth Form Centre is located in Durham City Centre next to Gala Square and Freeman’s Quay. We are a couple of minutes walk from both the bus station and the railway station. Our students enjoy having all of the city centre facilities, shops, restaurants, the city library, cinema and theatre on our doorstep. In the city itself, students find a host of lively cultural, social and educational advantages and facilities. The galleries, exhibitions, museums and book shops all play their part in enriching the student experience. A large public car-park is directly opposite and adjacent to Durham Sixth Form Centre’s main entrance.