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English Literature - AS / A level at Ipswich School

Course description

The study of Literature at AS/A2 level has a fundamental aim: to foster the enjoyment of reading and writing by developing the ability to express ideas accurately and imaginatively, to organise thought coherently and with relevant purpose. Assessing some of the finest literature of the past and present stimulates argument, clarifies meaning and develops articulate expression.

Course content

The GCSE English Literature course has given you the opportunity of reading a variety of prose, verse and drama. At AS/A2 level (OCR Board) this foundation is consolidated with the continued wide reading essential for background knowledge and with the close study of coursework and exam texts which are carefully chosen to cover a broad range of styles and periods. Class discussion, which invariably ranges from texts to almost any topical issue, is particularly important in an English course. By voicing interpretation, being prepared to justify a point with evidence or listening to others` views you gain confidence and the ability to modify opinion. This flexibility of response is invaluable for the examination criterion that requires candidates to account for alternative responses. However, unlike GCSE, speaking is not part of the assessment.

Participation in extra-curricular activities such as debating, drama, film and literary groups has always proved invaluable. The English Department's extensive DVD library is used to illustrate texts where appropriate. A broad interest in film, television and popular culture is always useful; examiners are pleased to find a range of allusion as well as close knowledge of texts. Reading lists of significant novels are issued every year, and all the texts are available in the Library.

The AS level syllabus covers, within a programme of wider reading, a minimum of six texts, including:

a major novel (1800-1945), selected poems of a major poet, a text of criticism (exam).

three late twentieth-century texts (coursework).

The full A level specification requires, in addition to the texts covered at AS level, the study of a further six texts, including:

the study of a Shakespeare play, a poetry text and drama text (pre 1800) (exam).

an extended essay on any three texts to illustrate a chosen theme (coursework).


The AS/A2 level examiners look for individuality, resourcefulness, relevant interpretation and the ability to write well-phrased essays. The coursework component (40%) gives scope for research, planning, drafting and polishing in your own time.

Future opportunities

A university course in English can lead to a career in Business, the Media, Journalism, Advertising, Publishing; as with all Arts degrees, there are many openings. The A level course will give you insight into the development of language and will sharpen your awareness of the art of written and verbal communication. The department has a reputation for inspiring its students to develop a love of literature and a commitment to stimulating discussion.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 20 May 2014
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