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.
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?
For UK based students, a good GCSE grade in English language or Literature is needed. This should be 6 or higher. For international students, an in-house diagnostic will be required for entry into the course. An overall grade 6 will be the criteria for entry. 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?
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 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.
Core Texts and Suggested Reading
To be confirmed at the start of the course
The Songs of Innocence and Experience
By William Blake
Henry IV Part 1 By W. Shakespeare
The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
Beginning Theory By Peter Barry
Othello By W. Shakespeare
Death of a Salesman By A. Miller
Richard II By W. Shakespeare / Tess of the
d’Urbervilles By Thomas Hardy
Exam Board and Specification Codes
A level: AQA B 7717
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