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English Language: A-level

Qualification: A-level

Exam Board: AQA

Entry Requirements: Grade 5 or above in GCSE English Language and English Literature.


A fascinating exploration of language in our society

The English department offer three A-levels: English Language, English Literature and Media Studies. 

We in the English department are very aware of the distinctiveness of our subject, and identify strongly with the four ‘concepts’ of teaching English:

  • Competence: we want all pupils to be skilled and fluent communicators, and be adept in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Creativity: we want all pupils to experience language as a mode of expression and imagination.
  • Cultural understanding: we want all pupils to appreciate the legacy of the English language through great works of literature; and how it is evolving in the wake of fresh challenges.
  • Critical understanding: we want all pupils to analyse how language is used to persuade and influence.

We have been teaching A-level subjects in English since their introduction and have a very experienced and successful team of subject experts. We are among the top state schools for A-level Literature results in 2016-2017 and also have achieved outstanding results in A-level Language and Media Studies.


The course

We study the variations and representations created through language in a wide range of texts. Students study the key concepts of audience, purpose, genre and mode, applying a variety of linguistic terminology to explore how meanings, representations and contextual factors are created in these texts.

They explore processes of, and social attitudes to, language diversity and change, as well as speech varieties in the British Isles and the variety of global Englishes. Students also study children’s language development.

Skills developed include writing for a non-specialist audience, discursive essay writing, detailed analysis and evaluation of data, and applying a variety of theories and concepts to answers confidently.

The non-examined component (worth 20%) is an independent language investigation and a piece of original writing. Past examples include:

  • Does gender affect the language used in Facebook posts?
  • The semantic change of the word ‘like’.
  • The language of an all-male band.
  • The dialect of my South Yorkshire family. 
  • How is language used to describe Brexit?
  • How a child with autism communicates with close family members.


Beyond the classroom

Past activities have included:

  • A debating club.
  • Public speaking competitions.
  • Trips to the theatre and cinema.
  • Support for entering students into national creative writing competitions.



An English A-level is a valuable asset when applying to university or to potential employers. It shows that you have good communication skills, and that you are able to persuade, inform or connect with someone. It can lead to a higher or further education course in English or communications, as well as careers in journalism, teaching, the media, public relations, marketing, broadcasting, linguistics and law. It is a useful qualification for all courses, developing analytical skills and providing evidence of the ability to use language successfully.