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English Literature

Syllabus: AQA English Literature A (A-Level) - 7712

1 - Why study English Literature?

Literature teaches us all about the human experience; it is a fascinating way in which to learn about how we connect with others and how we are influenced by the world around us. Literature acts as a way of opening doors into worlds that we may never visit otherwise and also opens our eyes to the lived experiences of others.

Through the study of literature, you are encouraged to be critical; to read deeply for meaning; to consider texts as a product of their time and to learn about the contextual influences on authors; to question the world around you and to make connections.

English Literature is considered a valued A Level for many Russell Group universities and also acts as a brilliant gateway to a huge range of career paths such as: politics, publishing, theatre, teaching, the media, campaigning, broadcasting and journalism.

2 - What will you study?

Year 12

  • Othello by William Shakespeare and Pre 1900s Anthology Poetry
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Great Gatsby By F Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and NEA

Year 13

  • Unseen Prose and Poetry and NEA
  • Feminine Gospels
  • Revision

3 - How will you be assessed?

Paper 1: Love Through the Ages (Othello, Unseen Poetry, Comparison of The Great Gatsby to Anthology Poetry) – 40% of A-Level

Paper 2: Texts in Shared Contexts. Option B – Literature from 1945 to the Present Day. (Streetcar Named Desire, Unseen Prose, Comparison of Handmaid’s Tale and Feminine Gospels0 – 40% of A-Level)

NEA (Non-Exam Assessment): Comparison of two texts of the student’s choice, at least one of which is pre-1900. – 20% of the A-Level

4 - What skills will you develop?

  • Analysis and interpretation
  • The ability to think critically, from different viewpoints
  • To consider texts as a product of their time
  • Appreciating a wide variety of literature
  • Research skills
  • essay writing skills
  • Oracy and presentation skills
  • To apply critical understanding to texts from across time

5 - What makes a good English Literature student?

  • Someone who is passionate about different types of literature, from poems and prose to drama and novels
  • Someone who is able to make perceptive comments and enter into discussion about literature and key topics
  • Someone who is interested in learning about the world around them
  • Someone who is able to manage their time well
  • Someone willing to research the backgrounds of different types of texts
  • Someone who is keen to find out what literature can teach us about both history and the modern world

6 - Where can English Literature lead?

English Literature is considered a valued A Level for many Russell Group universities and also acts as a brilliant gateway to a huge range of career paths such as:

  • Politics
  • Publishing
  • Theatre
  • Teaching
  • The media
  • Campaigning
  • Broadcasting
  • Journalism

7 - Reading list and preparation

Our set texts:
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Pre-1900s Love Through the Ages AQA anthology
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy
  • Literary Criticism and Theory:
  • Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler
  • Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton
  • Beginning Theory: An Introduction to literary and cultural theory byPeter Barry
  • The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert
  • Feminist Literary Criticism: A Reader, ed. Mary Singleton
  • The Art of Fiction by David Lodge
  • The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
Pre 1900s Literature:
  • Great Expectations and Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma by Jane Austen
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Modern Fiction:
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Small Island by Andrea Levy
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Brick Lane, White Teeth and NW by Zadie Smith
  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Fingersmith, The Little Stranger, Affinity, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • Purple Hibiscus, Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Normal People and Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • The Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Atonement and Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Caleb Femi
  • Carol Ann Duffy
  • Christina Rossetti
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Evan Boland
  • Hollie McNish
  • Jacob Sam-La Rose
  • John Keats
  • John Milton
  • Langston Hughes
  • Lord Byron
  • Ocean Vuong
  • Percy Shelley
  • Philip Larkin
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Simon Armitage
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Ted Hughes
  • TS Eliot
  • Warsan Shire
  • WH Auden
  • Wilfred Owen
  • William Blake
  • William Wordsworth
  • Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • All My Sons, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie and Suddenly Last Summer
  • by Tennessee Williams
  • Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • Oediupus and Antigone by Sophocles


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