English Literature - A Level

Offering clear progression from GCSE, these courses allow students to build on the skills and knowledge already gained and prepare for their next steps.

The variety of assessment styles used includes passage-based questions, unseen material, single text questions, multiple text questions and open/closed-book approaches. Students develop a wide range of skills, including the ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research.  These skills are critical for both further study and future employment.

This course has a distinct philosophy which centres on different ways of reading and the connections that exist between texts and literary genre.  Students will gain a solid understanding of how texts can be connected and how they can be interpreted in multiple ways in order that students can arrive at their own interpretations and become more confident autonomous readers.  Students will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to study the subject further in Higher Education. 

The specification encourages the exploration of texts in a number of different ways:

  • The study of texts within specific genres

  • The study of texts through engagement with a range of theoretical ideas writing about texts in a number of different ways.

Genre study is at the heart of this course.  Students will look at ways in which authors shape meanings within their texts, whilst thinking about a wide range of relevant contexts, for example the production of the text at its time of writing or how the text has been received over time.


Course Content 

In literary genres, the texts are connected through a mainstream literary genre: either aspects of tragedy or aspects of comedy. Tragedy and comedy have a long tradition in literature, with their origins in the ancient world and with a specific emphasis on drama. 

Students study three texts: one Shakespeare play, a second drama text and one further text. In addition to the compulsory Shakespeare play, one of the other two texts must be written pre-1900.

Texts and genres

In texts and genres, in contrast to the literary genres of tragedy and comedy, the texts are grouped together as having elements of more modern genres: either crime writing or political and social protest writing. These genres, which are heavily influenced by culture, are continually evolving.

Students will choose one of the following options:

  • Option 2A: Elements of tragedy writing 

  • Option 2B: Elements of crime writing.

Students study three texts: one post-2000 prose text, one poetry and one further text, one of which must be written pre-1900. They also respond to an unseen passage in the exam. The unseen extract can come from any of the genres of poetry, prose or drama and can include literary non-fiction.

The paper for this component is open book. Students may take a copy of their set texts into the exam. These texts must not be annotated and must not contain any additional notes or materials.

Theory and independence

This component is designed to allow students to read widely, to choose their own texts (if appropriate) and to understand that contemporary study of literature needs to be informed by the fact that different theoretical and critical methods can be applied to the subject. This area of the course provides a challenging and wide-ranging opportunity for an introduction to different ways of reading texts and for independent study. 

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English Literature is well respected by universities and employers alike.  It shows insight, empathy and competence with language. An AS Level in English Literature is advantageous for almost any career, but particularly suitable for those wishing to pursue careers in journalism, publishing, screenwriting, editing, or teaching.  University courses you could go on to study after completing your A Level English Literature qualification here at Meopham School, include;

  • University of Birmingham - English BA

  • University of Lincoln - BA (Hons) English and Journalism

  • University of Leicester - English and American Studies BA

  • University of Sussex - English and Media Studies BA (Hons)

  • University of Worcester - English Language and English Literature  BA (Hons)

  • University of Reading - English Literature and Politics  BA


Entry Requirements

In order to attend Meopham Sixth Form the minimum entry requirement is 5 level 4 GCSEs, including English and Maths.

To study A Level English Literature students are required to achieve a minimum of a Level 5 in GSCE English Literature.