English Literature A Level

Board: AQA
Syllabus: 7717

About the subject

English Literature is an exciting subject which ought to appeal appeal to anyone who enjoys stories, books, language or all of the above, and who has a reasonably open mind.

The first year involves the study of Tragedy as a literary genre; that famous type of story in which the characters are heading for disaster – and only the audience knows it! The second year will explore the genre of Political Fiction, in which the meaning and value of rulership, democracy, oppression and revolution are put to the test in novels, plays and poems. The second year also involves students beginning to consider Literary Theory.

Students will read eight texts over the course – a range of novels, plays, and poems – texts that will be both read for enjoyment and subjected to a great deal of intensive questioning and analysis.

Students will be encouraged in their own wider reading, and to develop their familiarity with the course authors by reading around the set texts. The department also runs a Creative Writing competition and a group of budding degree students for those with big dreams.

Learning styles

Mainly, in English lessons, we talk – we discuss books and stories and ideas. Although it’s true to say that there are no final right answers in the subject, it’s also true to say that there are more or less interesting ones – and, through discussion, debate and essay-writing, we aim to make the business of reading as interesting, as intellectually enriching, as we can – particularly by examining how writers play with genre conventions. As well as developing their analytical essay-writing skills, students of English Literature can expect to develop a questioning curiosity not only about storytelling, but about the world and everything that’s in it.

Subject Combinations and Progression

A traditionally well-respected academic subject, identified by the Russell Group as a Facilitating Subject (one that ‘facilitates’ any academic aims), English Literature is often combined with other Humanities subjects like History and Politics, or with Media and Film Studies, but it also goes well with Social Sciences, with Languages – it is extremely flexible. The same is true of its uses later in life: obviously it can lead towards journalism and the media, but also towards publishing, the law, therapy, advertising, as well as towards teaching and academic life.

Subject Modules and Assessment

Module 1: Literary Genres: Tragedy: Written exam, 40% A Level

Module 2: Texts and Genres: Political Fiction: Written exam, 40% A Level

Module 3: Theory and Independence: Coursework, 20% A Level

Entry requirements

4 or above in GCSE English