A Level

English Language & Literature


Where Could It Take Me?

A level English Language and Literature can lead to a very wide range of courses at university, including English Literature, Linguistics, Creative Writing, Journalism, PR, Media, Film, Politics and Sociology. The subject provides excellent skills for careers in fiction writing, screenwriting, journalism, TV, advertising, marketing, media, PR, drama, teaching, social media, management, business and so on. 

Entry Requirements

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

Course Content

This course is designed for students with a passion for both creative writing and reading. Through studying a range of different texts you will learn the craft of writing and become skilled at both analysing texts and creating your own. You will explore how writers create their own distinctive voices. The writers you will study include novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, speechwriters and more. You will learn the technical ways in which writers use the different levels of language, from the building blocks of grammar and word choices, right up to the ways in which they craft and shape whole texts. You will also develop an understanding of how writing and speech are influenced by the contexts of the time in which they were produced. This will enable you to see your own writing in perspective as a product of the times in which we live.

English Language and Literature is for you if you want to learn to read like a writer and write like a reader. 

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

The course is 80% examination and 20% coursework.  90% of the assessed writing is analytical essays and 10% is creative writing. In all your analytical essays you will be carrying out a linguistic and literary analysis of the choices writers and speakers have made and you will assess the significance and influence of the contexts of the text. 

The first component is Poetry and Prose and is assessed through a two hour exam. This is 30% of the A Level. It has two units: 

  • Poetry. You will study a wide range of pre 1914 poetry and prepare to analyse it in comparison to an unseen modern text. In this unit you may be surprised to discover how fascinating the grammar and lexis (word choices) in a poem can be. You will also learn about the history of poetic forms and consider how history affects the language people use. 
  • Prose. You will read and closely analyse 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker. This award winning 1980s novel fictionalises the experience of growing up as a an African American woman in the Deep South during the period of segregation and before the Civil Rights Movement. You will look at the way in which the precise language choices in the novel are intrinsically linked to its powerful and emotional themes. 

The second component is Drama and is assessed through a two hour exam. This is also 30% of the A Level. It has two units: 

  • Shakespeare. You will study 'Othello'. This is one of Shakespeare's most performed tragedies. It explores the catastrophic effect of jealousy and villainy on a new marriage. Issues of race, ethnicity and identity are central to this play. In particular, you will look at the way the script draws on both poetry and the patterns of everyday speech. 
  • Post-1900 Drama. You will study 'The History Boys' by Alan Bennett. This play combines hilarity with tragedy in a drama centering on a sixth form classroom in a boys' grammar school. You will learn about the history of British education as well as studying the way Bennett gives each of his characters a distinctive voice. 

The third component is Non-Literary Texts and is assessed through a two hour exam. This is 20% of the A Level. It has two units: 

  • Spoken Language. You will study speech and conversation theory and apply it to a wide range of transcripts and scripted materials such as radio shows and political speeches, as well as everyday conversations. You will look at the messages speakers give (sometimes inadvertantly) through their grammatical and lexical choices, but also through their speed, fluency and conversational habits. In the exam you will compare three unseen examples of speech. 
  • Non-Literary text. You will read and analyse 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote. This is one of the first exampes of a journalistic novel or true-crime. Capote spent six years researching and writing the story of the two murderers who committed a quadruple homicide in Kansas in the 1950s. You will look particularly at the ways in which Capote blended journalistic techniques with the traditional features of a novel. 

The fourth component is the Critical and Creative Genre Study. This is coursework and is 20% of the A Level. In this unit you will pick a genre of writing from the following: Science Fiction, Dystopia, The Outsider, War and Conflict, Gothic and Crime. You will read and study two novels written in this genre. You will then write three pieces as a result: an analytical essay (1500 words) exploring how the writing choices of your two novelists work within the genre, and then two pieces of creative writing (1000 words each) . One of these will be literary and one non-literary, and both will be inspired by your reading.