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English Literature

Advanced Level English Literature

Students follow the Edexcel English Literature specification (2015 onwards). All work in Year 12 and 13 forms part of A Level assessment. The qualification is composed of 80% examination and 20% coursework.

Year 12

The first year of English Literature is an exciting exploration of both classic texts and unique modern poetry. It focuses on an in-depth knowledge of these texts; the specialist teachers in the department know these texts extremely well and will take students on a guided tour of the author’s literary skills and some interesting critical ways of approaching them.

At the root of this course lies a passion for literature and the ability to debate and form your own opinions.

In the first year of the course, students study four texts:

  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Wuthering Heights  by Emily Bronte
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Poems of the Decade: an anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry


Paper 1: Poetry and Drama (2 hours. Poems of the Decade and A Streetcar Named Desire)

Paper 2: Prose (1 hour 15minutes. Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Wuthering Heights)

Summer of Year 12 and Year 13

Students study the following, in addition to revising all Year 12 work:

  • An anthology of critical essays on tragedy
  • Wider critical reading for coursework and examination
  • Two coursework texts selected from a list provided (see ‘Coursework’ below)
  • Hamlet, King Lear, Othello or Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
  • A collection of works by a named poet (for example, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Keats, Christina Rossetti, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin)
  • Unseen poetry skills and advanced critical skills for examinations and coursework

A Level examinations (80%)

Paper 1: Drama (2 hours and 15 minutes. Shakespeare play and A Streetcar Named Desire)

Paper 2: Prose (1 hour 15minutes. Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Wuthering Heights)

Paper 3: Poetry (2 hours and 15 minutes. Poems of the Decade, Unseen Poetry and Named Poet)

Coursework (20%)

A 2500-3000 word essay on two texts of the student’s choice, selected from a list. The focus here is on independent reading and the opportunity to extend the experience of literature beyond the confines of the specification. The choice of texts is guided by teachers to ensure they are appropriate and challenging; the student selects the area for comparison and writes their own coursework question in conjunction with their supervising teacher.

Suggestions for pairings might include:

  • 1984 (George Orwell) and Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)
  • Macbeth (William Shakespeare) and Dracula (Bram Stoker)
  • Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)