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English Literature at Spalding High School

Course description


The study of English literature offers you the opportunity to engage with stories that inform, entertain, shock and excite, stories told not just through words but also through sound and image. Studying English literature allows you to broaden your understanding of history, culture and identities in ways that are personally and socially enriching as well as intellectually stimulating. Understanding stories and how they work is a part of understanding the world we live in. While not a vocational course, an A-level in English literature is widely recognised as an invaluable qualification both for its own sake and for the skills of literacy and understanding which can help in every aspect of study.

N.B. This is an English literature course (i.e. the study of books) not an English language course (which is largely about grammar), though good English language skills are essential for effective essay writing.


If you find independent reading a struggle, or if you found Shakespeare extremely difficult at GCSE level, then this course is probably not for you. The ideal A-level student of English literature is someone who enjoys reading, thinks for themselves, is ready to take a full part in discussion work, and can write accurate and fluent English.

Course content


There are three modules: Unit 1: Literary Genres (Tragedy)

This unit involves close analysis of three texts, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare’s King Lear and a selection of poetry by Keats. You will be required to identify and explore genre conventions within the text and to consider how secondary reading (often literary criticism) informs our reading of the three texts.

Unit 2: Texts and Genres

This unit involves exploration of either elements of crime writing or elements of political/social protest writing. You will be expected to study three texts in total, one of which should be a selection of poetry and another being post-2000 prose.

Unit 3: Theory and independence

This is the coursework unit and will be assessed through two essays. The investigations will be linked to your independent study of two texts, one of which must be poetry and the other prose. You will also be provided with a Critical Anthology of literary theory which you will use to frame and further deepen your understanding of the texts you have chosen.


There will be 9 lessons a fortnight, shared between 2 teachers. Most lessons are likely to consist of class discussion and teacher input. You will be expected to read the texts on your own and prepare independently for lessons.

Entry requirements

To achieve at least 6 grades, A* to C, at GCSE, including English language and mathematics.

At least GCSE grade B in English literature.

Students are required to have a reference/report which clearly shows that they are suitable to undertake academic studies at A Level standard.



Unit 1- The method of assessment for this unit is a written examination that carries 40% of the overall A-level award. (100% of AS award)

Unit 2- The method of assessment for this unit is a written examination (open book) that carries 40% of the overall A-level award.

Unit 3—The method of assessment for this unit is two essays that are assessed by your teacher. These two essays will count towards 20% of the overall award.

Future opportunities


An A level in English literature is an invaluable qualification for entry into university or a job. Students with a degree in English are in demand for careers in journalism, teaching, publishing and business, among others. In addition, the skills of reading and understanding you will acquire will give you a life-long pleasure from books.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 03 December 2015
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years