Awarding Body:OCRCourse Duration:2 Years


A Level English Literature is an inspiring and rewarding subject which enables you to study a range of novels, plays and poetry, from the 14th to the 21st century. As well as reading with a forensic eye to understand how writers create meanings, you will consider the contexts in which our texts were written, and look at various critical approaches to understand how they can be interpreted in different ways. You will read widely around the texts, discussing and writing about the ideas and concepts they raise.

During the course, you will have many opportunities to participate in activities such as theatre trips (including a residential stay in Stratford-upon-Avon), background lectures and workshops.

Course Content

Year 1

Shakespeare – we read Shakespeare’s 1604 ‘problem play’ Measure for Measure, developing skills of close analysis and exploring different critical approaches and relevant context.

Dystopia – we study Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, developing skills of comparative analysis. In this component we also look at a wide variety of texts and consider literary theory and the contexts in which dystopian fiction has developed.

Coursework – we study the selected works of a post-2000 poet and write a 1000-word piece of close analysis.

Year 2

Pre-1900 drama and poetry – we study selected works of a pre-1900 poet in comparison with a pre-1900 drama. The poet might be Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson or Rossetti. The plays may be Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi , or Wilde’s An Ideal Husband.

Coursework – you will write a 2000-word essay comparing a post-1900 novel and play. This provides an opportunity for independent work and is an invaluable preparation for degree-level study.

Methods of Teaching

Much of the work is conducted through discussion groups, both large and small, with topics sometimes being presented by the students themselves and through a variety of media.  As well as developing a wide understanding of the texts, we focus on your writing skills and critical faculties.  We value independent reading and have excellent resources, including a very popular and extensive intranet site.

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

80% of the mark will be assessed through final exams. 

20% of the mark will be assessed through internal coursework.

Financial Implications

Students will need to purchase their texts, so there is an annual cost of around £70.  We ask for students to buy their texts early in the academic year so there is no delay in obtaining books later in the course. The college has a Student Support Fund for those students who have difficulty meeting these costs.

Where Could It Take Me?

English Literature is valued for the skills of writing, reading, analysis and emotional intelligence that it develops in its students. These skills complement any career or programme of study and are vital for success in all walks of life.  Our students go on to study all kinds of degrees, including the sciences,  Law, Business and Journalism, where the analytical and writing skills we inculcate in our students are prized. It is highly regarded by admissions tutors and English Literature students attend a wide range of universities, including Oxbridge and those of the Russell Group. Higher education courses in English are very popular and demanding.  At degree level English Literature is often combined with History, a language, or social sciences. The subject provides a useful entry qualification for careers in advertising, writing, the media, journalism, drama, education, social and administrative services, librarianship, business management, and a wide range of professions.  Non-arts industries (e.g. engineering, medicine, etc.) are placing increasing value on emotional intelligence and high levels of literacy.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Maths and English.


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