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Do you enjoy reading? Have you considered reading more widely and discovering the works of the famous poets and writers? Do you enjoy discussing the issues and attitudes raised by such texts? Do you like writing and would like to know more about the techniques authors and poets use to convey meaning in their work? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then English Literature maybe the subject for you!
English Literature examines the works of English-speaking authors, poets and playwrights and aims to break down the structure of the texts. It develops analytical, evaluative, and writing skills alongside an appreciation of the techniques used by authors and poets to create their work.
This subject is taught from the AQA board. You will sit two AS exams at the end of the first year and two examinations in the second year that cover the content taught over both years. There is also a Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) that counts for 20% of your overall mark.
A minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths.
A grade 5 in GCSE English Literature.
In the first year you will study the texts under the theme of ‘love through the ages'.
1. ‘Shakespeare and Poetry’: You will study Shakespeare’s tragedy about the heroic general, Othello, whose downfall is plotted by his trusted advisor Lago. Together techniques are explored, as well as the context in which the play is set. You will study fourteen different poems from pre-1900 and examine how poets convey meaning and symbolism in their writing.
2. ‘Prose’: You will explore two different pieces of literature: The Great Gatsby - A novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that explores life in the 1920s era of wealth and glamour; and Rebecca – A gothic novel by Daphne Du Maurier that depicts the life of a woman who marries a young widower before discovering that the household are haunted by the memory of his first wife. You will also develop the skills of critical analysis and evaluation to approach a piece of Unseen Prose.
In the second year you will consolidate work from the first year and explore texts which have a shared context, as well as complete a non-examined assessment.
3. ‘Texts in shared contexts – Post 1945’: You will study Carol Ann Duffy’s seminal collection of poems that explore women and feminism in the 21st Century called The Feminine Gospels. Alongside this you will also study Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Colour Purple which explores the life experiences of a fourteen-year-old African American girl and the traumas she faces. Lastly you will also study Arthur Miller’s 1946 play All My Sons that unpicks the American Dream set in the context of a family mourning the loss of their son in World War 2.
4. ‘NEA (Non-Exam Assessment) – Independent critical study: texts across time’: You will also complete an independent study (coursework) which is worth 20% of the overall grade. In this you will choose and compare two books alongside an investigative question of your own choosing and then submit a 2,500-word essay. This is marked internally.
5. ‘Love through the ages’: You will revisit the texts studied in the first year: Othello, the Great Gatsby, Rebecca and Pre-1900s poetry in preparation for the summer exams
English Literature can develop the skills for a range of different employment opportunities that require an understanding of evaluating and interpreting what has been presented. It can also lead to an English Literature degree, which can be the basis for a range of careers such as a writer, journalist, publisher, advertising, and law conversion to a legal career. You will also develop an awareness of black and feminist history, class inequalities and issues that affect our modern world.
There are lots of opportunities to extend your learning as an English Literature student. There are opportunities to attend theatre performances of your studied text. There is an English Academy which provides you with additional support and guidance to really excel in the subject and to further develop their skills in the subject. You might also find our Creative Writing Academy interesting to further hone and develop your writing skills. We have a Sixth Form Talks programme that features guest lecturers who are experts on the texts being studied from local universities.