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English Language & Literature

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A Level
Exam Board: AQA
Subject Leader: Mr R Denham

This is a course for students who have a keen interest in how writers use language to make meaning and influence their readers. It is also a course that affords students an opportunity to display their own creative writing skills and critically examine their work. We cover a range of texts including novels, poems, plays, non-fiction, media texts and non-literary texts. This course differs from those focused primarily on literature by extending its coverage to explore differences and similarities between non-literary texts; it differs from those primarily focused on language by bringing the nature of literary discourse into sharper view. The course offers unique opportunities to consider issues of ‘literariness’ and ‘literalness’ that tend to remain unquestioned on other English courses.

How is the course organised and assessed?

The course is delivered using the six language levels of: lexis and semantics; grammar; phonetics; graphology; pragmatics and discourse. Students are taught to forensically examine texts and explore the effects of purpose, audience, genre and mode on the language decisions that writers and speakers make. Using literary and linguistic concepts and methods, students analyse literary and non-literary texts, gaining insights into the nature of different discourses and ideas about creativity.

Paper 1 — Telling Stories
Remembered places — the representation of place.
Imagined worlds — point of view and genre in prose.
Poetic voices — the forms and functions of poetic voice.
Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities.

Texts to study
Margaret Atwood — The Handmaid’s Tale,
Poetry from Carol Ann Duffy and an anthology of non-fiction and non-literary texts focused on the city of Paris.  

Paper 2 — Exploring Conflicts
Writing about society — the role of the individual in society, and re-creative writing based on set texts.
Critical commentary — evaluating own writing.
Dramatic encounters — conflict in drama.
Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities.

Texts to study
Khalid Hosseini — The Kite Runner, Tennessee Williams — A Streetcar Named Desire.

As well as the two papers, students are given a 2500-3000 word Non-Examination Assessment in which they must conduct an investigation that explores a specific technique of theme in both literary and non-literary discourse.

What's next?
Students taking this course will find that it leads into many Humanities degrees and is largely considered by most universities on par, academically, with an English Literature A Level. This course provides a broad knowledge and skill base to enter both higher education or two pursue employment.