Headteacher’s Newsletter – Friday 1st December 2023
Far be it from us to suggest why you ought to study English Literature at A Level. If you are reading this, the chances are you are already thinking about it. And for that we commend you.
You are required to study a minimum of eight texts, including at least two examples of each of the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the course as a whole.
There are two examined components and one coursework component. The two exams are equally weighted and offer opportunities for you to provide extended exploratory responses.
The first exam component ‘Drama and Poetry Pre-1900’ offers you the opportunity to engage in close reading of Shakespeare’s use of language. You will answer a two-part question; the first part will focus on an extract from your chosen Shakespeare play and the second part will be an essay question which will assess wider knowledge of the play as a whole. In the second section you apply a combination of one drama text and one poetry text to a set of non-text specific but literary questions.
The second exam component ‘Comparative and Contextual Study’ will consist of a close reading (unseen exercise) and a comparative essay. The paper will be split into different topic areas. Chosen topics include: American Literature 1880-1940, The Gothic, Dystopia, Women in Literature and The Immigrant Experience. You will have a choice of texts (from a list of core set texts and suggested set texts) from within their chosen topic area. For the first part of this exam you will approach an unseen prose extract, from within your chosen topic area. The second part of the exam will offer you a choice of three questions of which they must answer one question on the set texts you have studied in your chosen topic area.
The coursework component requires you to study three texts from across the genres of poetry, drama and prose. Task one offers a choice between a critical piece and a recreative piece with a commentary. Task two is a ‘linked texts’ essay focusing on connections and comparisons between two texts.
Well, immersing yourself in the ways the greatest writers have used language to express the human condition is a continual enrichment in itself. Other specific opportunities include, theatre visits, workshops and external study days.
That very much depends on you. The analytical, empathetic, discursive and interpretative skills (to mention just a few) that you will develop through studying English Literature are skills valued by academic institutions, all potential employers as well as potential life partners. According to the Russell Group’s guide Informed Choices, English Literature is a ‘facilitating’ A Level. Certain A Levels are known as ‘facilitating’ because choosing them leaves open a wide range of options for university study.