A Level English Literature

 

What is it about at sixth-form level? 

Primarily, the study of English Literature at A Level can offer you a rich and very rewarding reading experience. You will have the opportunity to study all three major literary forms: prose, poetry and drama, and to read a range of texts, from the ‘classics’ to more modern texts written in the 21st century. You will be encouraged to read widely, to learn about the contexts in which the texts were written and to consider how those texts have been received by different readers over time.

Studying literature is not a factual process designed to find the ‘truth’. There are many different ways in which texts can be interpreted and you will be able to discuss and develop your own ideas, informed by the views of others. English Literature is for those who love to read and re-read, to unpick layers of meaning and who enjoy discussion and debate.

Lower sixth

In your AS year, you will study one of two broad genres: tragedy or comedy. Both have a long tradition in literature with their origins in the ancient world and a specific emphasis on drama. Your study will include one Shakespeare play, one further drama text, one poetry text and one prose text. Having learned about tragic or comedic conventions, you will be asked to explore to what extent you can find elements or aspects of the genre in your chosen texts.

Upper sixth

The second year of the course continues its focus on genre study but also begins to explore other ways in which texts can be connected and how the reading experience can be enhanced by the study of critical theory. Here, you will be revisiting aspects of the genre you studied at AS, but will also be offered the opportunity to study a further genre: either crime writing or political and social protest writing. You will also complete a non-examined unit in which you study an anthology of different critical perspectives such as feminism or Marxism and apply the theory to two texts of your own choice.

Why study it and what Why study it and what skills does it develop?

English Literature will introduce you to new authors and reading experiences and help you to become a more confident, autonomous reader. It will develop your thinking skills, powers of analysis and creativity. You will also become a more fluent user of the language with a wider vocabulary and an ability to write accurately and coherently in order to argue a point of view. In addition, you will acquire a deeper understanding of historical, social and cultural developments through your study of literature. In discussion and in writing, you will develop more confidence in your own judgements.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

A good GCSE grade in English and English Literature is needed. You should be aware that the course requires a lot of reading, both in class and independently. Most of the assessment is based on the ability to write good essays.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS course is assessed by two written exams: For the drama paper, you will answer one passage based question on your chosen Shakespeare play and one essay question on your other drama set text. For the second paper, you will complete two essay questions – one question on poetry, and one question on prose.

A level

The A Level is assessed by two written exams and one non-exam assessment: Paper 1 is divided into three sections with two questions on Shakespeare and one essay question linking two other texts. To test your knowledge and understanding of crime or social and political protest writing, Paper 2 requires a response to an unseen passage and two essays. For the non-exam assessment, you will produce two responses of 1,250 – 1,500 words, each relating to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the critical anthology.

Reading

AQA English Literature B A Level and AS
Edited by A. Beard
Published by Oxford, ISBN 978-0198337485

Comedy: A Very short Introduction
By M. Bevis
Published by Oxford , ISBN 978-0199601714 

Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction
By A. PoolePublished by Oxford, ISBN 978-0192802354

 

AS Reading List (Tragedy)

Othello By W. Shakespeare
Death of a Salesman By A. Miller
The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

A Level Reading (Crime)

When Will There Be Good News By K. Atkinson
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd By A. Christie
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner By S.T. Coleridge

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: AQA B 7716, A2: AQA B 7717

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”

Gabriel

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 

Andrew

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AA

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”

Anastasia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”

Akmaral

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”

Julia

Grades achieved at MPW
A*AABB

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”