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English Literature


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This course offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy reading and discussing a wide range of high quality literature.


Building on some of the skills and reading experience you will have developed for GCSE English Literature, this popular course will allow you to broaden and deepen your understanding of literature as an art form, as well as understanding some of the cultural and historical influences which have shaped the literary canon over centuries. You will study a range of prose, poetry and drama texts – ranging from Shakespeare’s plays to 21st century novels. One half of the course focuses on the tragedy genre and students will study two drama texts, a novel and a collection of poetry. The other covers an additional genre study – political and social protest writing – and the opportunity for independent choice of texts, studied for a non-examination assessment, which can be creative or analytical.

Entry Requirements:

Please refer to the John of Gaunt Sixth Form entry requirements.

Course structure and assessment:


Module Title

Mode of Assessment

Brief Outline


Literary genres:

Aspects of Tragedy

Written exam:  2 hours 30 minutes

Closed book

75 marks

40% of A level


Students will study three texts for this paper on the A level course: a Shakespeare play, a second drama text and one other text, which must have been written pre-1900. The exam contains an extract question and an essay question on the Shakespeare play and one essay which links the further two texts. 


Texts and genres:

Elements of political and social protest writing

Written exam:  3 hours

Open book

75 marks

40% of A level


Candidates will study three texts within the genre of ‘political and social protest writing’: one post-2000 prose text, a poetry text and a further text, one of which will have been written pre-1900. The exam will contain a compulsory question on an unseen passage within the genre, an essay question on one set text and a further essay question which requires students to connect the other two texts.


Theory and Independence

Non-examination assessment

50 marks

20% of A level


Candidates will study an anthology of writing about different literary theories and approaches to texts, alongside two texts of their own choosing – one poetry and one prose. They will then produce two pieces for their NEA folder (one of which can be a creative, transformative writing piece, instead of a conventional essay task) which will be teacher assessed and moderated by AQA.

Special features:

We frequently run trips to the theatre to see live performances of the plays we study, and conferences, often based at universities, to give students a taste of the study of English at undergraduate level. We maintain strong links with former and current AQA examiners, who run preparation sessions to guide students on how to achieve the best grades.


AQA English Literature Specification B - A level – 7717

Further study:

English Literature is one of the longest established and respected A level subjects. It is highly regarded by higher education providers, colleges and employers and is a facilitating subject for those wishing to apply to Russell Group universities. In particular, it may help if you wish to pursue creative subjects or careers, such as those involving drama, media, journalism and creative writing. However, as the course balances creative elements with key skills in analysis and essay writing, it will help you towards just about any career you have in mind.