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English Literature

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A Level
Exam Board: AQA
Subject Leader: Mrs S Wright

This is a course for students who love to read and have an interest in broadening their experience of literature across history, from the Renaissance to the 21st Century. We cover a range of texts: novels, short stories, plays and poetry, which we read and discuss together. There is also an independent reading strand to the course in which you can develop your own reading interests in detail. The course is very much intent on developing students as independent readers. Students are taught to develop a wide range of skills, such as the ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research; skills which are considered essential by both higher education institutions and employers. Students become the literary critics.

How is the course organised and assessed?

In Year 12, students first year of the course is based around a thematic study “Love through the Ages”. This has students studying: a Shakespeare play (Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, or The Winter's Tale), an Anthology of Poetry, two prose texts (Jane Austen — Persuasion, Charlotte Bront—Ď — Jane Eyre, George Elliot — The Mill on the Floss, Thomas Hardy — Tess of the D'UrbervillesF.Scott Fitzgerald — The Great Gatsby, EM
Forster — A Room with a View
, LP Hartley — The Go Between, Daphne Du Maurier — Rebecca, or Ian McEwan — Atonement) which students will compare the themes of.

In Year 13, students focus much more on modern day literature (1945 - present day) which has them studying: a prose text (Michael Frayn — Spiesand, Ken Kesey — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Margaret Atwood — The Handmaid’s Tale, Kathryn Stockett — The Help, Alice Walker — The Color Purple, Jeanette Winterson — Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Graham Swift — Waterland). A drama text (Tennessee Williams – A Streetcar Named Desire, Arthur Miller – All My Sons, Tennesee Williams – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and a poetry collection (Carol Ann Duffy – Feminine Gospels, Seamus Heaney – New Selected Poems, Sylvia Plath - Ariel). Students also take part in our unit, "Texts Across Time", to give them an opportunity to develop reading on a theme of their own interest; for example, The Struggle for Identity, Crime and Punishment, The Gothic, War and Conflict, Representations of Women and Dystopian Fiction. Students will select their own two texts, one pre-1900, and working with a coursework mentor, write a 2500 word academic essay.

What's next?
English literature is a traditional and well respected A Level, it is highly considered by high education institutions for anyone wishing to pursue a higher education in English and many of our students go on from this course to do an English degree at university. 


View the learning journey for English at NLS