A-Level English Literature

A-Level English Literature

Students generally choose to study A-Level English Literature as they have an interest in the subject. If you are considering studying this A-Level, not only will it develop your knowledge in literature, it also improves your English and communication skills overall.

A-Level English Literature

A specific arrangement of units is required for certification, made up of AS-Level units and A2 level units. You will study four set units. The assessment for A-Level English Literature is by coursework and exam.

Over the course, you will undergo at least 360 guided learning hours over a two-year period. These guided learning hours are levels set by the government on how much time the tutor at your sixth form or college has to be present to give guidance (such as lectures, tutorials etc.) towards your award.

AS-Level English Literature

AQA offer two AS awards for English Literature, AS-Level English Literature A and AS-Level English Literature B.

  • AQA AS-Level English Literature A

The two core units for AS-Level English Literature A are Texts in Context and Creative Study. The course will encourage you to study literature within a coherent framework and introduce you to genres. It will also help you to consider how the response of a reader is shaped by literature.

  • AQA AS-Level English Literature B

The core units for AS-Level English Literature B are Aspects of Narrative and Dramatic Genres. You will develop knowledge around narrative and you will develop an awareness of genre through drama.

  • Edexcel AS-Level English Literature

The Edexcel AS-Level English Literature contains two units, Explorations in Prose and Poetry and Explorations in Drama. These will allow you to build a firm foundation in studying genres and understanding narrative as well as allowing you to explore drama texts.

  • OCR AS-Level English Literature

The first OCR AS unit is Poetry and Prose 1800-1945 and this unit allows you to analyse poetry and prose by focusing on narrative methods and readers’ interpretations. The second AS unit is Literature post-1900 and you have a choice of critically analysing a post-1900 text, exploring creative writing based on a post-1900 text or exploring connections between texts based on reader interpretations.

  • WJEC AS-Level English Literature

The two units undertaken for AS-Level English Literature are Poetry and Drama 1 and Prose Study & Creative Reading and these will encourage you to develop your interest and enjoyment in literature, as well as develop and apply your knowledge of literary analysis to speech and writing.

  • CCEA AS-Level English Literature

The first AS unit is The Study of Drama. This will introduce you to a Shakespeare play in detail and you will be able to show critical understanding of how Shakespeare used structure and language. The second AS unit is The Study of Poetry Written after 1800 and the Study of Prose 1800–1945 and this will allow you to compare and contrast two poets, by analysing poetic methods.

  • University of Cambridge International Examinations AS-Level English Literature

The first unit is Poetry and Prose and the second is Drama. Both of these are assessed by exam. The AS course aims to develop your appreciation and personal responses to English literature in different forms and from different periods.

A2-Level English Literature

The A2 English Literature is the equivalent of the second year of study of A-Level English Literature. This is not a separate award. The A2 –Level English Literature with the AS-Level English Literature makes up the A-Level English Literature.  A2-Level English Literature will further develop your knowledge from AS-Level English Literature.

AQA offers either English Literature A or English Literature B.

  • AQA A2 English Literature A

The core units of Reading for Meaning and Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study will build on your foundation of wide and close reading across genres. You will move to a variety of literature that begins with Chaucer and ends at the present day. You are also encouraged to develop your own interests in literature.

  • AQA A2 English Literature B

The A2 units of Texts and Genres and Further and Independent Reading will develop your ideas on genre, building on the core units. The A2 units will look in detail at how texts can reproduce cultural meaning. You will consider how texts can be approached critically and how these can offer different and possibly challenging interpretations of texts.

  • Edexcel A2 English Literature

The Edexcel English Literature A2 units are Interpretations of Prose and Poetry and Reflections in Literary Studies.  These will build on the knowledge and skills that you have developed at AS-Level. This will allow you to study further texts, comparing and contrasting these texts in detail.

  • OCR A2 English Literature

The first A2 unit, Drama and Poetry pre-1800 allows you to explore Shakespeare and other Drama and Poetry that is pre-1800. The second unit, Texts in Time allows you to study texts across at least two genres in the same or different periods and explore the connections between these texts.

  • WJEC A2 English Literature

The first AS unit is Period and Genre Study and Poetry and Drama 2. Both of these build on your skills and knowledge that you have developed in your AS study.

  • CCEA A2 English Literature

Both of units build on your knowledge from your AS-Level in The Study of Poetry 1300-1800 and Drama. The Study of Prose – Theme Based will allow you to analyse and evaluate an extract from a novel of your choosing and demonstrate understanding of narrative.

  • University of Cambridge International Examinations A2 English Literature

There is a choice of A2 units available including Shakespeare and other pre-20th century texts, 20th century writing, comment and appreciation or coursework. All of these are designed to develop your skills further from the AS award. Most of these A2 units are exam assessed.

A-Level English Literature Exam Board Information

  • The Edexcel AS and A-Level English Literature specification is available from their website.
  • The specification for the OCR AS and A-Level English Literature is available here.
  • The specification for WJEC A-Level English Literature is available here.
  • CCEA also offer AS-Level and A-Level English Literature and the specification is available from their website.
  • The relevant year syllabus for Cambridge International AS and A-Level English Literature is available here.

Career Opportunities

Most people study A-Level English Literature so that they can study English Literature at University. Career options can include teaching and working in the media. Some students will also wish to become professional writers, editors or work in publishing

Other Useful Information

  • There are a number of podcasts for English Literature topics available here.
  • Edexcel past papers and exemplar materials are available here.
  • There are a number of past question papers available for the University of Cambridge International Examinations AS-Level English Literature.
  • Further links to English Literature revision resources are available through the Times Educational Supplement.