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English Literature: A-level

Qualification: A-level

Exam Board: AQA

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


An exploration of great literature

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. In 2018 69% of our students achieved A*, A or B grades.


The course

We follow the AQA Literature B course and select the Tragedy and Elements of Social and Political Protest units. Taught texts include King Lear, Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Great Gatsby and The Kite Runner.

There is also a non-examined component (coursework) worth 20% in which students write two critical essays on texts of their choice. 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.


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 and law. It is a useful qualification for all courses, developing analytical skills and providing evidence of the ability to use language successfully.

The Russell Group of Universities views English Literature as a ‘facilitating subject’ which allows you to choose from a wide range of degree courses in subjects other than just English.