English Literature


Are you someone who enjoys lively discussion of books? Literature is a course which enables you to engage in depth with a range of powerful and inspirational texts. It involves looking at how poetry, plays and novels create characters, tell stories and present themes.

Literature lessons are varied, ranging from group and whole class discussions, creative approaches, drama activities and independent research. You will be encouraged to explore your own ideas about the texts.

As well as extending your experience of literature, this course allows you to sharpen and refine the ways you analyse texts. You will be taught how to write an effective critical essay. The skills involved in shaping and structuring ideas will be useful in all essay-based subjects.


Over the two years you will be studying two texts from each genre of Literature: Drama, Prose and Poetry, each assessed in different exam.

Year One:

The course begins with the study of a varied collection contemporary poems from the first decade of the 21st century. Your study of drama will start in the Autumn term and continue into the Spring term. The year will end with a return to poetry. 

Year Two:  This is when you study a Shakespeare play, as well as reading and exploring two novels which will be linked by a theme such as: Childhood, Colonisation and its Aftermath, Crime and Detection, Science and Society, The Supernatural and Women and Society.

Non-Examined Assessment: A longer essay (2500-3000 words) in which you compare two texts you have chosen and a topic that reflects your interests.  Texts can be from any period or genre and can include non-fiction. You will work on this in the Summer term of your first year.


Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.


Three written examination papers taken at the end of the second year and a piece of non-examined assessment.

Paper 1: (30%) Drama: two essays, one on each of the plays that you have studied.

Paper 2: (20%) Prose: one essay comparing your two novels on the theme you have studied.

Paper 3: (30%) Poetry: two essay questions.  One essay involves a comparison of the poem from the Anthology with an unseen poem.

Non-Examined Assessment: (20%) A comparative essay, which you work on independently, focused on two texts of any genre or period.


Standard College entry requirements and a minimum of:

Grade required Subject required

Grade 5

GCSE English Literature

Grade 4 GCSE English Language

We are an inclusive department and, in some situations, we will consider students who have achieved a good grade in only one GCSE English course.

Some applicants may have a career plan for which taking both English Language and English Literature as two separate A Levels would be appropriate, giving them an increased chance of progressing to a highly competitive university, for example, to study journalism. As taking both subjects narrows a programme of study it is strongly advised that such students take four subjects at A Level.


The thinking, speaking and writing skills you develop on this course are highly valued by universities and employers. We also have a great deal of experience in supporting those students who opt to take literature at University, including Oxbridge applications. Our former students have gone on to study a wide range of subjects including history, law, drama and medicine, and pursued an enormous variety of careers.



Students who like reading and want to expand their horizons choose English Literature. Our students frequently comment on the friendly atmosphere that arises from the discussions that take place. Students are provided with a variety of course handouts, but must purchase their own texts. Financial assistance may be available where required.

English students are offered a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities such as trips to the theatre, cinema, lecture days and support for those applying to study English at university.

We run popular residential trips including to Stratford-Upon-Avon and a creative writing retreat, and invite visiting speakers such poets, novelists, playwrights and journalists to talk to our students. We also participate in the Royal Shakespeare Company live streaming and offer Additional Studies in Creative Writing, College Magazine and Debating.