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GSO Test

Est. 1921

English Literature

What is this course about?

English literature teaches you to become an expert reader. You will learn to study texts closely, analysing their construction and the effect they have on the reader.  As well as studying how the text functions as a piece of writing, you will also study the historical background of the texts and their relationship to the society the author lived in. You will learn to place texts within a tradition, whether a formal tradition, historical or thematic tradition and you will also learn to apply critical models, known as literary theory, to the text that you’re studying. Students must be mature, independent readers who are willing to engage with texts from other times and cultures.  They should enjoy reading for study and for pleasure.

Course Content

2 Year A-Level Course:

Paper 1: Love Through the Ages

3hr examination, 75 marks, worth 40% of your grade.

  • Section A Shakespeare set text (Taming of the Shrew).
  • Section B Comparing unseen poetry (pupils will practice with an anthology of post 1900 poetry).
  • Section C Comparing set texts (The Great Gatsby and an anthology of pre 1900 poetry).

Paper 2b: Texts in Shared Contexts: Modern Texts

2hr and 30min examination, 75 marks, worth 40% of your grade.

Pupils will study 3 set texts:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (prose);
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (Drama);
  • Feminine Gospels, Carol Ann Duffy (Post 2000 poetry).

Section A pupils will write on one of their set texts.

Section B pupils will respond to a piece of unseen prose fiction or non-fiction.

Section C pupils will write on their two remaining set texts.

Independent Critical Study (coursework)

  • 2500 word essay plus bibliography, 50 marks, worth 20% of course.
  • Pupils will write a comparative critical study of two texts. They must be written by two different authors and equal attention must be paid to both texts. Important texts in translation can be used. One of these texts must be pre 1900.
  • The essay will be marked by your teacher, moderated within the department and then sent for final moderation by the exam board.

What might this course lead on to?

English Literature is one of the most popular A-Level subjects nationally. It is a “facilitating subject” which is highly regarded by our country’s top universities, (The Russell Group and Oxbridge Universities) and this course is excellent preparation for further study at one of these institutions.  It goes well with Arts and Social Science subjects and would be ideal to study alongside English Language especially if you already know that you would like to study English at university.

This course is suitable for Higher Education studies such as American Studies, European Studies, Philosophy and Law. As a communication subject it is also valued for Social Sciences and Business Courses at university. It is possible to combine science subjects with English at A-Level but if this is the case it is important to consider your Higher Education (university) plans.  Bear in mind that if you are considering reading English at university you will need to gain a grade A or B in this subject at A-Level.

Entry Requirements:

Grade 5 in GCSE English Language or English Literature.