While studying English Literature you will study the three main genres: poetry, prose and drama.

From September 2015, new A levels in English will be linear qualifications, with all assessment at the end of the course. AS will become a standalone qualification and will not contribute towards an A level.


A Level English Literature involves studying the three main genres: poetry, prose and drama. You will read critics and theorists who bring different critical readings and theoretical approaches to bear on the set texts. You will learn how to engage in close reading and stylistic analysis as well as considering the wider social and historical factors which have shaped and influenced the writer. You will also consider how literary language and its effects works on different readers, shaping and influencing their responses.


The ability to think independently and critically is the hallmark of a good English student. In the English department we emphasise the need for students to be able to weigh up a variety of interpretations and come to a reasoned and balanced response. Our teaching of individual texts is informed by different critical approaches: Marxist/historicist, feminist, stylistic and post-colonial.

Whatever approach adopted, the aim is always the same: to make students aware of how their own critical response to a text has been informed by a whole set of cultural practices, values and assumptions. As a reader, the text “reads” us just as much as we read it. Doing this subject will enable students to acquire skills in critical thinking, writing and speaking which will be of benefit to them for the rest of their lives.


This qualification consists of two externally examined components. 100% examined assessment at AS which must all be completed in May/June in any single year. First assessment 2016.

Weighting Format
Component 1 Poetry and Drama 60% 2 hour exam
Component 2 Prose 40% 1 hour exam

Advanced GCE in English Literature (Edexcel)

This qualification consists of three externally examined components and coursework. Students must complete all assessment in May/June in any single year. First assessment 2017.

Weighting Format
Component 1 Drama 30% 2 hour 15 min exam
Component 2 Prose 20% 1 hour exam
Component 3 Poetry 30% 2 hour 15 min exam
Coursework 20% Internally marked

Exam Board: Edexcel


You will need to have gained a good grade at GCSE English Language and English Literature. We expect you to have enjoyed studying poetry, plays and novels at GCSE and to be someone who reads on their own and around a subject. Find out if English literature is right for you by answering the following questions.

  • Independent literary study?
  • Reading around a topic?
  • Developing an argument in order to support a particular point of view?
  • undertaking independent research?
  • Enjoy analysing literary techniques and their effects?


A Level English Literature touches upon many other subjects and disciplines. It complements particularly the following subjects:

  • Media Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Drama
  • Classical Civilisation


You can apply to do a degree in a wide range of subjects such as English, Journalism, Media and Communication Studies or Law.

By studying English Literature, you will gain expertise in analysing, interpreting and evaluating a variety of different literary texts from different periods. During the course, your writing and analytical skills will develop, giving you the ability to shape a coherent critical argument which has textual substantiation. English Literature is a highly regarded A-Level, one which university admissions tutors and employers look upon very favourably. English graduates often go on to careers in broadcasting, journalism, publishing, PR and advertising.


Q. Can I do the course in one year?
A. The AS is a one-year course with all assessments taking place in the summer. The A-level is a two-year course with all assessments taking place in the summer of the second year.

Q. If wanted to apply for English at university which option would be best, English Language and Literature or English Literature?
A. Both subjects are held in high regard by universities. Studying English Literature would be a better option if applying to a traditional English course at university.


To study A Levels, your current or pending exam results should be equivalent to or higher than GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in at least 5 subjects and a minimum level of English equivalent to IELTS 5.5.

At the start of each academic year of study students following an A Level course without a pass at Level 5/Grade C in GCSE or IGCSE English Language or with an Academic English score below 6.5 overall must join an Academic English training course for the duration of the academic year which will be timetabled alongside A Level lessons.

If your level of English is not sufficient to meet the entry criteria for the A Level programme you will normally be offered a place on the one year Academic Preparation Course (pre A Level) in order to bring your English skills up to the required level.