A LEVEL ENGLISH LITERATURE
Why study English Literature?
A love of books is a good place to start! English Literature explores writers from different periods, including the very modern. Relationships, emotions and how these are communicated form the basis of the Literature course, along with the need to understand the contextual circumstances under which they were written.
The texts promote insights into the complexities of the human world and people’s feelings, promoting wide-ranging discussion and debate. English Literature promotes the development of understanding and analysis through close reading of texts from a wide range of time periods and generic types. The ability to give a reasoned argument supported by textual evidence is a vital skill in the modern world.
Many employers see English as a core subject and the skills of writing and expression that are developed are highly valued. The widespread demand for good communication skills means English literature offer lots of potential career paths; this includes any forms of journalism, broadcast media, advertising, marketing, PR, law, public sector work and business.
What will you study?
English is broken down into four units, which are all examined at the end of the course.
|Autumn 1||Contemporary Poetry: The Poems of the Decade|
Unseen analysis (poetry)
|Autumn 2||Prose: Hard Times|
Contemporary Poetry: The Poems of the Decade
|Spring 1||Drama: The Importance of Being Earnest|
|Spring 2||Prose: Atonement|
|Summer 1||Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream|
Shakespeare: A Critical Anthology
|Summer 2||Coursework: preparatory work|
|Autumn 1||Coursework: planning and writing|
|Autumn 2||Poetry: Movement poet: Philip Larkin|
|Spring 1||Drama revision|
|Spring 2||Poetry and Prose revision|
a) Set text: Poems of the Decade/ Unseen poems:
There is a focus on comparison as students work through the set poems, exploring and analysing, building on analytical work from GCSE and developing skills of comparison. Students are introduced to strategies for scaffolding comparisons between the set poems and unseen poems.
b) Text: The Movement Poet: Philip Larkin (Text: The Less Deceived)
The focus is on context. Students work through the poems, exploring and analysing them in the contexts in which they were produced and received. Pre-reading activities focus on student research into the contexts in which the poems were produced and students will have an understanding of: intellectual, social and political contexts of mid 20th century England, the idea of social rebellion, contemporary and subsequent reception by critics. There will be Introduction/revision of appropriate poetic terminology: e.g. conceit, irony, paradox, lyric. General themes might be: love, mutability, knowledge and learning, spirituality and religious belief, death, travel.
a) Shakespeare set text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
Work builds on students’ Shakespeare studies at GCSE, students revise or are introduced to features of dramatic comedy. There is a focus on genre (comedy) and social and critical contexts. Students complete essays on key aspects of the play – e.g. characterisation, contrasts and conflicts, dramatist’s handling of themes such as the corruption of power, good leadership, private v public personas, etc. – always linking to the contexts in which the play was produced and is received.
Shakespeare: A Critical Anthology: Students explore a range of critical approaches using the Anthology and any other appropriate sources. They will be encouraged to engage in critical debate around the text.
b) 19th century set text: The Importance of Being Earnest:
There is a focus on context: pre-reading activities focus on student research into the contexts in which the play was produced. Shared reading of the play. Students discuss comments on characterisation, themes, setting, dramatic techniques and audience response. Students complete essays on key aspects of the play – e.g. characterisation, effects of theatrical techniques, dramatist’s handling of themes such as class conflict, the nature of art, etc. – always linking to the contexts in which the play was produced and is received.
a) Text: Hard Times – Charles Dickens
Pre-reading activities focus on student research into the contexts in which the novel was produced: Dickens’ biography and his childhood experiences in London and Kent, the Industrial Revolution and its effects, Victorian Britain and problems of hardship. While reading the novel, students discuss comments on characterisation, themes, setting, narrative techniques and reader response. The focus on themes: power corrupts, man’s inhumanity to man, social inequality, gender issues, man vs. nature
b) Text: Atonement – Ian McEwan
There is focus on contexts and comparison. Pre-reading activities focus on student research into the contexts in which the novel was produced: growing up in the early 20th century, WW2 and its impact, particularly in France, London in the 1990’s. There is a focus on language and form: changing narrative perspective, use of imagery, different time periods, and reportage.
For both texts students complete essays on key aspects of the novel – e.g. characterisation, effects of narrative techniques, writer’s exploration of themes – always linking to the contexts in which the novel was produced and is received.
4 Coursework: Two complete texts linked by theme, movement, author or period (free choice coursework)
This is written coursework, covering two complete texts from poetry, drama, prose, literary non-fiction or the film of a literary text studied alongside the published text. The texts may be linked by theme, movement, author or period. Literary study of both texts should be enhanced by study of the links and connections between them, different interpretations and the contexts in which they were written and received. The focus is on research and presentation skills. Students produce one assignment: one extended comparative essay referring to two texts – the advisory total word count is 2500–3000 words
How will you study?
This course will be taught in 7 x 45-minute lessons per week. Classes are small, allowing an informal tutorial-style environment. English lessons are very collaborative, with students able to discuss and test their ideas. An essay and a piece of independent study are set each week. The course will involve additional reading which stretches the curriculum content and expands a student’s appreciation of literature. Theatre visits also form part of the course.
Potential degree courses
English is one of the most popular university courses. A level students may also progress to study Drama, Law, Business Studies, Media Studies. A level English is also highly valued by admissions tutors for sciences and medicine.
|1 Drama||A Midsummer Night’s Dream||Shakespeare/Millennium||9781503250789|
|The Importance of Being Earnest||Wilde/Millennium||9781503331747|
|3 Poetry||Poems of the Decade||Forward anthology||978-0-571-32540-5|
|The Less Deceived||Larkin/Faber||978-0-571-26012-6|
Specification details – Edexcel 9ET0