English Literature A level is a highly respected academic qualification, which is classed as an ‘enabling subject’ by Russell Group universities. This means that it will help prepare you well for the most competitive degree courses. It is an excellent preparation for University study of Languages, Humanities, Law and of course, English. It can also complement Science subjects: two of our highest achieving students in A Level last year have gone on to read Economics and Biological Sciences. Studying English can lead to a variety of stimulating and rewarding careers in the arts, politics, law, journalism, publishing, media and academia. The A level is also extremely enjoyable: If you like reading and discussing books and have enjoyed your GCSE English course you are well suited to English A level.
Key Stage 5
What does A Level English Literature involve?
English Literature is a subject that develops your ability to think critically and to express yourself accurately. It involves the study of at least eight texts (prose, poetry and drama), covering a wide range of authors and periods. In addition to the study of literary texts, A Level English requires a sophisticated understanding of a text’s context: this requires reading around the text – other works by the same author; texts related by theme; the social and historical context. Different critical approaches, theories and responses to the text will also be studied.
Why study A Level English Literature?
The study of English Literature at an advanced level develops the student’s ability to decipher layers of meaning in a text, to explore ideas in depth and to improve her written and oral communication skills. As well as being a necessary requirement for the study of English at university, A Level English is an asset for a number of degree programmes and careers, including law, teaching, the media and management.
What is the ideal A Level English Literature student like?
The ideal English Literature A Level student will be glad to have left behind the constraints of GCSE and will want to read more widely, covering more challenging texts from a wider range of authors and periods; she will want to develop her critical skills and the ability to explore ideas in depth. The A Level English student needs to balance a number of qualities: she needs to be hard-working and well organised; to be prepared to contribute actively in discussion; to want to think independently and to respond to texts knowledgeably and perceptively.
The A Level English Literature syllabus
At Lady Margaret School we study the AQA English Literature A Syllabus.
|Two year A Level course|
|Unit||Texts and topics||% weighting||Time / word count|
Love Through the Ages
|Section A: Shakespeare The Winter’s Tale
Section B: Unseen Poetry
Section C: Comparison of The Great Gatsby and an anthology of Pre 1900 Love Poetry
|40 % A Level||3 hour closed book exam.
A mix of open and closed book questions.
Texts in Shared Contexts (Modern Literature 1945-present day)
|Section A. Set Text Essay: You will study Skirrid Hill by Owen Sheers
Section B: Unseen Extract Analysis
Section C: One essay comparing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
|40% A Level||2 hour open book exam.
Clean copies of the books may be taken into the examination hall.
Independent Critical Study
|An essay based on the reading of two texts from two different authors: one pre-1900.||20% A Level||2500 words|