English Literature

What’s it about?

Why study English Literature?

Entry requirements

What you learn

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Student quotes:

“It opens new worlds, new places and new ideas – all for the price of a book or library card.”

“I am never alone when I have a book. It’s a perfect, portable friend.”

“For me, reading literature is getting to live many experiences, to feel the struggles, consider complex human decisions, to find empathy, to decide what is worth fighting for & fighting against, to consider what it means to be human.”

“Literature connected me with the past….after reading Jane Austin…I felt connected with those people… Shakespeare helped me develop empathy for his characters, it also helped me understand the human psychology, that redeeming factor in every human soul, even in a villain.”

“I chose to study English because I adore books…however the skills I developed during my degree of presenting arguments, considering different viewpoints, understanding other cultures & writing persuasively have resulted in a wonderfully varied career. It can take you anywhere.”

“Books are my secret hiding place, my sanctuary, my mindfulness, my peace.”

“Reading literature enables you to see the world through other eyes. It teaches you tolerance, understanding and lets you find out who you are through what really begins to matter to you. So many books helped me do just that, and continue to.”

The Course Structure

The AQA English Literature Specification B covers:

 A Level – Paper 1 – Literary genres Aspects of Tragedy

Students will study one Shakespeare text – Othello; a drama text – Death of A Salesman and a selection of Keats’ poetry.

The exam will focus on one passage based on Othello, one essay question on Othello and one essay question which connects two texts Death of a Salesman and Keats’ poetry. The written exam is closed book and is worth 40% of A Level.

A Level – Paper 2 – Texts and genres Elements of political and social protest writing.

Students study three texts:

The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini;  Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House and a selection of poetry by William Blake.

The exam comprises of one compulsory question on an unseen passage of social or political protest writing, one essay question on one of the three set texts and one essay question which connects two remaining set texts. The exam is open book and is 40% of A Level.

Non-exam Assessment – Theory and Independence

This area of the course provides a challenging and wide-ranging opportunity for an introduction to different ways of reading texts and for independent study. This process is supported by the AQA Critical anthology, covering critical methods and ideas on narrative theory, feminist theory, Marxist theory, Eco critical theory, post-colonial theory and literary value and the canon.

In this component, students write two essays of 1,250-1,500 words about two different literary texts of their own choice – one must be a poetry text and the other prose – linked to a different section of the Critical anthology. One essay can be re-creative, which will be accompanied by a commentary. These essays are 20% of the A Level, assessed by teachers and moderated by AQA.

Potential Careers

  • Analytics
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  • Civil service
  • Copywriter
  • Creative arts
  • Curator
  • Events management
  • Influencer
  • IT Consultant
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Lexicographer
  • Librarian
  • Marketing Executive


  • Proof reader
  • Publisher
  • Radio presenter
  • Research
  • Service industries
  • Social work
  • Speech Writer
  • Teacher
  • Translator
  • TV Presenter
  • Writer
  • YouTube star

 Why Study English Literature?

 Entry Requirements

Subject Qualification (Level 3) Required GCSE Grades
(in addition to Sixth Form entry requirements)
Additional Information
English Literature A Level 6+ English Literature and 6+ English Language  

What You Learn

Our Learning Journeys have been created to give you a flavour for the types of topics students study in each year at our school. They show what will be covered throughout the year and during each half-term, but please note there is some flexibility to what is taught when. We hope you find them helpful.