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Why English Literature?

Literature…is a way of making human life bearable.”– Kurt Vonnnegut.

From Shakespeare to Saramago, Milton to Margaret Atwood, from John Donne to James Joyce, writers have used fiction, poetry and drama to explore the complexity and depth of the human experience. Investigating love, conflict, family, death, race, gender, politics and more, writers use language at its most profound and beautiful to help us think more deeply about ourselves and others. If you enjoy literature in all forms, if you want to explore the drama of what makes us human, and if you enjoy language, English Literature is a fantastic choice at A Level.

Are there any recommendations for entry to the course?
Candidates will need to have attained 6 grades in English Literature and English Language at GCSE in order to take this option. Students will benefit from having studied other subjects in the humanities.

What will I study?
There are four components to the A Level course:
1. Drama, in which you will read the Shakespeare play Othello, as well as Tenessee William’s classic A Streetcar Named Desire.
2. Prose, in which you will read the novels Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood, comparing the novels around the themes of ‘Science and Society’.
3. Poetry, in which you will read two poetry anthologies, one of contemporary poetry (2002-2012) and another on Romanticism.
4. Coursework, in which you will write a 3000-word essay comparing two texts of your choice.

How will I be assessed?
The course is assessed via two examination papers worth 80% of the total and two coursework essays worth 20%.

What can English Literature lead to?
The study of English Literature is particularly suited to those considering fields such as journalism, publishing or teaching. The close reading skills and linguistic analysis involved in English Literature also make it excellent preparation for careers such as law. The skills of critical analysis and literary theory involved in the course make it an excellent preparation for the study of this subject at university, and complement many other A Level subjects such as History, Philosophy of Religion and Art.