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English Literature A'Level at Newstead Wood School

Course description

Awarding Body: Edexcel

Studying English Literature is not just about becoming a more competent reader. At Advanced Level, the subject forces you to confront uncomfortable truths about yourself and the world; to get under the skin of other lives and relationships from other times and places; to consider new, challenging and experimental forms of expression; to develop sharp and forensic evaluative skills; to argue with precision, listen and respond to the arguments of others and to understand the relationship between literary texts and the world which produces them. While an enjoyment of literature and broad reading interests are essential for success on the course, you will also need patience, persistence, open-mindedness, a sense of humour and an ability to express your ideas coherently and precisely.

Course content

AS Course Content

Component 1 POETRY and DRAMA Students will study a selection of modern poetry (post 2000) and a drama text (either tragedy or comedy). For example, they could read of the tragic fate of Dr. Faustus who sells his soul to the devil or sympathise with a woman who is haunted by her past in A Streetcar Named Desire. On the other hand, they could explore The Importance of Being Ernest or Waiting for Godot from the comic genre. This unit will enable students to develop their analytical skills as well as further develop their ability to compare poems.

Component 2 PROSE Students will study two prose texts (including at least one pre-1900) and compare them, based on the exploration of a chosen theme like childhood, women and society, science and society or colonisation and its aftermath.

A2 Course Content 

Component 1 DRAMA Students study one Shakespeare play, chosen from a selection of his most challenging plays. For example, they could analyse Shakespeare’s use of the dramatic genre to present the madness of a king who mistakenly thought he could divest himself of responsibility and retain authority in King Lear or indeed follow the chaotic and murderous actions of an equally mad black military Commander in Othello, who, manipulated by an amoral Venetian with an inferiority complex, kills his wife, based on the ‘evidence’ of a handkerchief! They might consider the reasons for the feigned madness of a procrastinating prince in Hamlet. Students will also explore an anthology of critical essays that will enrich the study of their chosen Shakespeare play. They will also study another play, choosing from an exciting selection of texts like A Streetcar Named Desire or Waiting For Godot. 

Component 2 PROSE Students read two prose texts (including at least one pre-1900) and compare the texts, based on a chosen theme like childhood, women and society, science and society or colonisation and its aftermath.

Component 3 POETRY Students engage in the close reading of poetic form, language and structure from a selection of contemporary poetry and compare an unseen poem with a named poem from the selection.They will also study poetry from a literary period like the Metaphysicals and marvel at the intellectual gymnastics of these poets or enjoy the philosophy and at the same time marvel at the linguistic achievements of the Romantics. On the other hand, they could study a named poet from within the chosen period like John Donne or Keats respectively.

Component 4 COURSEWORK Students will write one extended comparative essay referring to two texts of their choice. There are no genre or date restrictions, except that these texts should not have been studied previously by the centre. This will enable students to immerse themselves in an exploration of a topic about which they are passionate.

Methods of Learning

Learning strategies include group and teacher-led discussion, presentations, as well as a variety of other techniques for textual exploration, including visits to the theatre, workshops, and conferences.

Amount of homework time required per week: 4 hours in Year 12 and 5 hours in Year 13.

Subject Specific Skills and Concepts

  1. Read texts in a variety of ways, responding critically and creatively.
  2. Explore comparisons and contrasts between texts, establishing relationships.
  3. Identify and consider how attitudes and values are expressed in texts.
  4. Draw on their understanding of different interpretations when responding to and evaluating texts.
  5. Use literary critical concepts and terminology with understanding and discrimination.
  6. Synthesise and reflect upon a range of literary texts and ways of reading them.
  7. Make appropriate use of the conventions of writing in literary studies, including quotations and sources.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto these courses, students need at least a GCSE grade 7 in English Literature.

Future opportunities

Our students successfully apply to and read English at university, including Oxbridge and the Russell group of universities. The study of English Literature offers an excellent foundation for reading any subject at university. English is particularly important for those hoping to work in law, the media, management and any field where effective communication and analytical skills are a requirement.

Further information

Highlights and achievements

In the summer of 2016, 66% of our AS students achieved A grade while 100% achieved A/B grades. 46% of our A Level students achieved A*/A grades, while 87% achieved A*/B grades. The English Department is blessed with exceptionally enthusiastic, skilled and experienced staff. The team is also both eccentric and egotistical, truly believing and proving that this is indeed the best A Level subject. The proof of this claim lies in the challenging and wide range of activities on offer that, apart from enabling our A Level students to achieve excellent grades, also foster a lifelong love and enjoyment of literature.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 15 November 2016
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