English Literature

Why study English Literature?

At A level we offer a qualification in English Literature. This is an exciting course designed to broaden your experience of literature and prepare you for study at university level. It is a rigorous and well respected A level subject and carries much weight in your university applications. Studying English will hone your analytical skills, improve your higher level communication skills and broaden your understanding of the human condition. The OCR A level in English Literature allows learners to undertake independent and sustained studies to deepen their appreciation and understanding of literature, including its changing traditions. Students will study classic literature in the shape of Shakespeare or John Milton’s poetry as well as 20th and 21st century texts such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ or Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. There are opportunities to select texts which particularly interest you as part of your coursework unit and you will study themed topics such as The Gothic Tradition; Dystopian Fiction or American Literature for your comparative study.

Class sizes are smaller, co-educational and more intimate in the Sixth Form and this is an advantage in English A level. You will find yourself discussing a wide variety of texts, issues and themes. Sharing your opinions and responding to those of others is an integral and rewarding part of the course.

A love of reading is a necessary requirement of this course! In order to fully appreciate English A level you need to have an interest in literature of all genres.  Regular essay assignments on the chosen set texts are a key part of your assessment.

An understanding of the cultural, historical and social contexts in which a text is written is important at A level.  Researching and presenting contextual information is a vital aspect of your studies. The department organises theatre trips, lectures and visiting speakers.

Heads of Department: Mrs Z Harvey (Girls), Mrs E Arrand (Boys)


Course content

Board: OCR   A level Syllabus Code: H472

The A level examination consists of two examination papers and one coursework folder consisting of two assignments, one of which is on linked texts. You will be studying a mixture of pre and post 20th Century texts.

Method of assessment

Component 1: Shakespeare & Poetry and Drama pre-1900.
2.5 hrs. 60 marks 40%

A closed text exam on one Shakespeare play, one pre-1900 drama text and one pre-1900 poetry text.  Candidates will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of the texts, their ability to establish connections between the poetry and drama texts, while also exploring the influence of contexts and different interpretations across time.

Component 2: Comparative & Contextual Study.
2.5 hrs. 60 marks 40%

A closed text exam on two texts from a topic area. Candidates will be assessed on their close reading skills, analysis of language, understanding of relevant contexts and their ability to establish connections between the texts.

Component 3: Literature post-1900.
Coursework 3000 words 40 marks 20%

Candidates will be required to study three literary texts in three different genres (prose, drama and poetry) and complete two assignments, focusing on close textual analysis, literary critical concepts and comparisons between texts.