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English Literature A level at Esher College

Course description

The study of English Literature is varied and always exciting. You will analyse eight works covering the period from 1300 to the present day. These will include an anthology of modern poetry; Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Shelley’s Frankenstein alongside Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire; and Geoffrey Chaucer’s bawdy and brilliant The Wife of Bath. You will also learn how to respond to unseen poetry and to compare it to poetry you have studied, developing your analytical skills. These excitingly varied works will relate to each other, often in unexpected ways, enabling you to make interesting links and contrasts.

Importantly, students in this subject will be expected to read a great deal. Much of this will be carried out independently, and students should feel comfortable seeking out new texts for their own enjoyment, to enrich classwork and to practise using a range of strategies for reading.

Course content

You will study a wide range of writers from many different and important periods of literature: modern poetry, Shakespeare's Hamlet, a comparison of the novels Frankenstein and Never Let Me Go, Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, and Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire. You will also produce an extended essay for coursework comparing two texts. 

There are many similarities with GCSE English Literature where you focus on the writers' work; however at A Level you also study the factors that influenced the writers. 

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

Aside from the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will also need to achieve at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English Literature and GCSE English Language..

If you do not have a grade 4 in either GCSE English Language or Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake one or both of these subjects in your first year.  A lack of GCSE English Language at grade 4 will significantly restrict study programme options.


Assessment is 80% by examination and 20% by coursework, which is written in the second year. 

Future opportunities

By the end of the course English Literature students will have developed an impressive array of transferable skills including critical analysis, structuring arguments, the relevance of social and historical context, selecting evidence, debating and of course a thorough understating of how language, structure and form contribute to the meaning of texts.

This subject is considered a competitive one in terms of university entrance. It attracts a lot of applicants for university as it combines the academic, creative and analytical skills which are so valued in many careers. The skills are transferable to a range of disciplines and careers, including Publishing, Journalism and Law

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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