English Literature

AS/A level specification | AQA Literature Introduction

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind” – James Russell Lowell.

English Literature will challenge you. There are no two ways about it. This is a rigorous course with challenging texts and ideas, but the rewards are well worth the effort. You will be required to develop heightened analytical skills when considering a range of texts from the genres of prose, poetry and drama. You will research relevant contextual factors and learn to engage with literary criticism, In addition to gaining confidence in justifying your own interpretations and ideas.

If developing the power and variety of your writing skills is an appealing idea and you recognise that command of language is a valuable asset, you will find this course offers you the chance to cultivate your ability.

The move from GCSE to A level is demanding but if you apply yourself with determination you will gain the same success that previous students have achieved. Furthermore, you will have developed a capability for, and appreciation of, literature that will be of service to you in any further course or career you pursue and fill you with cutural riches that will last a lifetime.

Content & Breakdown

  • Unit 1: Texts in Context (60% of AS, 30% of A level) Written exam (open book) – studying a range of texts exploring ‘The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature’.
  • Unit 2: Creative Study (40% of AS, 20% of A level) Coursework, two tasks – one on prose text, one on drama text. 2,000 to 2,500 words in total.
  • Unit 3: Reading for Meaning (30% of A level) Written exam (closed book) – two questions involving unprepared extracts and wider reading on the unit theme of ‘Love Through the Ages’.
  • Unit 4: Extended essay and Shakespeare study (20% of A level) Coursework – extended essay of 3,000 words.


Units 1 and 2 are normally examined in the June of the AS year and Units 3 and 4 in June of Year 13.

Careers/Further Education

Students studying English at Sheringham have been very successful, their interest and effort achieving a pass rate of 100%. The department is naturally concerned also with the wider cultural development of students. The department offers a summer term literary trip for years 12 and 13 which has, in previous years, taken place in Dublin, Bronte country, Hardy’s Wessex, Lawrence’s Nottinghamshire coalfields, Fowles’ Lyme, Dickens’ workhouses, Byron’s Newstead and Shakespeare’s Stratford.

We are justly proud of our English students at Sheringham and believe them to be among the best prepared, liveliest and most personable students. Past students have gone on to study a wide range of degree courses at university, including, of course, English.

For more information contact:

Mrs Katy Chanter