English Literature

The course

GCSE English Literature is often studied in addition to GCSE English Language. The literature course is designed to provide exposure to all genres of literature of high quality, from Shakespeare to the 21st century. In reading and writing about literature, students develop highly transferable analytical and technical skills. Far from simply being a ‘subject’, the study of English Literature draws together and develops broad cultural, historical and linguistic awareness. The course provides an excellent foundation for the study of English Literature at A level.

What skills do I need?

You should hold a passion and enthusiasm for reading a range of literary texts of different styles and genres, have well-developed writing skills, a good level of vocabulary and, most importantly, an analytical mind and ear for how language shapes meaning. Your ability to carry out extra critical reading outside school, expressing opinion and taking an independent standpoint will all be necessary to achieve highly in this subject.

How is the course assessed?

There are two exams. Exam 1 assesses Shakespeare plays and the 19th-century novel. You will answer one question on each, firstly writing in detail on an extract from the text and then moving on to write about the text as a whole. You will study one Shakespeare play and one 19th century novel. Exam 1 is 1 hour 45 minutes and accounts for 40% of your Literature GCSE.

Exam 2 assesses your understanding of poetry and of a modern play or novel. You will answer three questions, one essay question on your studied play or novel, one comparative question on poems from the AQA anthology and one question on an unseen poem, going on to compare it with another unseen poem. Exam 2 is 2 hours 15 minutes and accounts for 60% of your Literature GCSE.


(provided by college)

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Published by CBy Publishing, ISBN 9781530990382 

An Inspector Calls
By J.B. Priestley
Published by Penguin Classics, ISBN 9780141185354 

By W. Shakespeare
Published by CUP, ISBN 9780521606868 

AQA Anthology of Poetry: Poems Past and Present
Available via Exam Board 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AQA English Literature 8702