What does the course involve?

English Literature offers an opportunity to deepen your understanding and knowledge of how the world around us is shaped, interpreted, and re-presented to us through the artistic vision and literary techniques of some of the greatest living writers and of the outstanding writers from our literary heritage.

The course consists of:

Four components specified by the exam board which are designed to cover three literary genres (poetry, prose and drama) and which range across a wide variety of themes and time periods.

80% of the course will be examined through a written exam and the remaining 20% in an essay-based independent study of two texts of literary merit.  The Exam Board recommends a range of texts but students do have some freedom of choice with regard to their choice of texts. It is crucial that students of A Level English Literature commit themselves to reading at every opportunity. The ability to critique the work of a writer is a skill that must be developed through practise.

What qualifications do I need?

This course is suitable for students who have achieved a grade ‘5’ or above in GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature. An enthusiasm for reading and writing is vital. It will help if you also enjoy contributing to class discussions and have a keen interest in a wide range of genres. The ability to express yourself articulately and with style is fundamental to success.


Component 1: Poetry

Written examination: 2 hours (120 marks)

30% of qualification


Component 2: Drama

Written examination: 2 hours (120 marks)

30% of qualification


Component 3: Unseen Texts

Written examination: 2 hours (80 marks)

20% of qualification

This component gives learners

Component 4: Prose Study

Non-exam assessment: 2500-3500 word assignment (80 marks)

20% of qualification


General Comments

If you take this course you will be able to enjoy reading and discussing novels, plays, and poetry, as well as developing your understanding of writers’ techniques and your ability to express your ideas in discussion and in writing.

English Literature allows you to understand yourself, other people, the wider society, your literary heritage, the value of ideas for their own sake, and to investigate and learn the value of a creative imagination.  The variety of work is enhanced with your wider reading.

Future Prospects

English Literature is an academic subject valued by universities, colleges and employers. It teaches and encourages students to explore the world around them and to consider differing perspectives on a wide variety of topics. The subject is an obvious choice for improving your communication skills and can be taken in combination with a wide range of other courses leading to a wide range of university courses or forms of employment.

Videos from the Department

Mr O'Cleirigh, Head of English, discusses the A-Level English Language and English Literature course content, such as how language has evolved and what you may be studying

Students go into depth about what it's like to be an English Literature student, what the course involves and how you develop skills.