Examination Board:  AQA

'If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then literature is the window to the mind'.


The A-Level English Literature course is a fascinating programme of study which encompasses a variety of texts, including those of your own choice, studied both during lesson time and independently. The course consists of the following units:

‘The Great Gatsby’ – just possibly the greatest American novel - a study of the notorious Jazz Age in 1920s America. You will compare the themes in this text to a superb range of hand-picked pre-1900 poetry from the Anthology ‘Love Through the Ages’. 

‘Othello’ – saving the best until last, Shakespeare wrote his greatest tragedies in the middle and end period of his career. ‘Othello’ really is a masterpiece of warring identities set amidst a torrent of deception, corruption and manipulation – and all in the name of love. Circumstances permitting, you will visit Stratford upon Avon to attend a workshop from the academics who are currently undertaking the most recent research and development into the life and works of Shakespeare, as well as visit the Shakespeare museum and surrounding town center.

Unseen Poetry – this unit involves a wide-ranging study of poems with similar themes such as separation, passion and sexuality. We will study extracts from some of the most famous books ever written in English.

Unseen Prose – an exploration of a range of fascinating literature from 1945 onwards, with themes covering resistance and rebellion, identity, politics, social change and dystopia. 

Independent Critical Study – this is where you get to pick your own texts and your own topic! You will develop a dynamic and critical comparison of two texts, one of which will have been written pre-1900. Previous students have chosen authors from Bram Stoker (Dracula) to Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) to Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner).

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – Margaret Atwood’s seminal ‘speculative’ novel about the country of Gilead, a dystopian theocratic world where young women have been forced into a life of subjugation, including a programme of forced breeding with the leaders of the totalitarian state. You will see how this novel, like so many other texts in this specification, reaches out and reinvents its relevance and message for each new generation of readers.

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ – Tennessee Williams superb study of gender and social class. You will compare this play to a range of poems by the awesome former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy from her collection ‘Feminine Gospels’.

Grade 6 in GCSE English Language and Literature


During Year 12 students will build a variety of skills including:

  • the ability to think critically
  • making informed judgements about the meaning and content of texts
  • a knowledge of literary devices used by writers
  • an ability to analyse the way a text is constructed (considering form, structure and language)
  • the development and exploration of creative interpretations/readings
  • an appreciation of the way historical, social and cultural events impact literature that is produced and read

In Year 13 students will obtain the ability to:

  • Develop and hone your reading skills
  • Increase your powers of imagination and comprehension
  • Understand the author’s intentions
  • Improve your skills of communication
  • Make an informed argument
  • Have an overview of English literature
  • Identify with new ideas
  • an ability to empathise and identify with writers from different cultures and times than your own
  • an understanding of how literature and the world has changed over the past 90 years

Please click here to view the full specification.

This could directly lead to a B.A in English, Journalism, Education or towards the study of another Arts degree.

In turn this could lead to Careers in Teaching, Journalism, The Arts and Broadcasting.