English Literature

A Level

English Literature A Level will broaden a students knowledge of prose, poetry and drama from a range of different historical periods.

This course is for students who thoroughly enjoy reading and want to broaden their knowledge of English literature (prose, poetry and drama) from a range of different historical periods. There is a high level of demand in terms of both the level and the amount of reading involved: students will be expected to read on their own outside lesson time.

Students thinking of taking this course should be open-minded and keen to explore a range of writing and authors, as well as a range of literary approaches and concepts, and should be ready to be challenged by what they read. The focus of the course is on learning to recognise, interrogate and analyse the many and varied ways in which authors create meaning. Students are encouraged to develop a holistic understanding of texts in all their complexity. A willingness to take part in lively discussion and debate is also an asset on the course.

80% Examination
20% Coursework

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Course content

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How the course is delivered

The English Literature course is taught in four lessons per week. Some groups will have one teacher per group and some will have two teachers responsible for discrete elements of the course.

Lessons focus on reading and discussing the texts and you may be asked to do some preparatory reading ahead of the lessons – it is ESSENTIAL to keep up with all reading tasks set.

Discussion and debate are a key part of the way this course is taught: the ideas of all students are important and student input very much shapes the ways in which the texts are read and presented.

Students will also be expected to learn a vocabulary of literary terminology that they can employ when writing about and analysing texts.

Essays and other homework tasks will be set regularly.

Lessons involve a great deal of discussion and collaborative activity – though reading alone outside lesson time forms a key part of the course. Written tasks include essays, research and short exploratory pieces.

The first year of the course will be assessed through internal college examination.

At A Level there is a 20% coursework element and 80% assessment by examination, completed at the end of the two year course.

Departmental Enrichment

Enrichment activities offered to students of English Literature in the past have included:

  • Visits to the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth and other sites of literary significance such as Grasmere and Stratford;
  • The chance to participate in a residential trip to Whitby to explore the Gothic in literature;
  • The chance to participate in the Shakespeare Schools Festival ;
  • The chance to participate in the national Poetry by Heart competition;
  • Talks from university lecturers;
  • Creative writing competitions;
  • Lunchtime reading club,

Students are of course encouraged to broaden and enrich their experience of reading whilst on the course, so we provide wider reading lists and suggestions for all students.

What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?

  • As this is a course for people who love reading and want to read much more widely, you can begin on this path by reading as much good quality literature as you can. Aim to familiarise yourself with a range of writing from all three genres: prose (novels, short stories, memoirs etc.), poetry and drama, from a variety of historical periods.
  • Reading other works by the authors of the set texts (or other authors like them) is very useful, so why not read some of the other novels by the Bronte sisters, or some work by other First World War poets or nature poets? Or you could dip into the exciting world of American literature to help prepare you for AS coursework.
  • Make notes about the texts you read and the ways in which authors present characters and themes. Try to begin making links between texts and considering how different works interconnect.
  • Use your spare time to watch films or TV dramatizations of literary works.
  • Join your local library, if you are not already a member, and see what it has to offer.
  • Go to the theatre to see plays.
  • Take advantage of the Hull and Beverley Literature Festivals.
  • Talk to friends and relatives about books they like – and books you like.
  • Immerse yourself in literature as much as you can before you start the course!

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