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Cookstown High School, Cookstown

A level - English Literature

What is A level English Literature about?

English Literature involves the study of literary texts of different types and periods. It stimulates curiosity about how language is crafted to convey the nature of human experiences.

English Literature develops essential knowledge and understanding of the ways in which authors express emotions and ideas through the medium of creative writing. It affords students the opportunity to engage with a wide range of moral, social and cultural issues, thus encouraging a deeper understanding of the contexts in which literary texts are created and understood. Students learn to articulate independent opinions and judgements, often informed by research into different interpretations of literary texts by diverse readers. This is a fascinating subject to study at A-level and one which develops critical thinking skills.

What topics will I study?

AS Units

Unit 1: The Study of Drama is internally assessed through coursework:

Section A - Shakespeare - This section introduces students to a detailed textual study of a prescribed Shakespeare play and the contexts in which it was written.

Section B - The Study of a post-1900 Dramatist - Through the study of two plays by an individual dramatist written during the twentieth and/or twenty-first centuries, students will experience opportunities to engage with a particular playwright's work by producing a creative piece in response to their critical consideration of the selected plays.

Unit 2: The Study of Poetry Written after 1800 and The Study of Prose 1800 - 1945

Section A - The Study of Poetry Written after 1800 - The poetry component of this unit teaches students the fundamentals of literary critical concepts and terminology through close comparative analysis of two prescribed poets.

Section B - The Study of Prose 1800 - 1945 - This section affords students the opportunity to engage with critical interpretations of a prescribed novel. They are also required to demonstrate an appreciation of the social, historical and cultural contexts which shaped the creation of their selected texts.

A2 Units

Unit 1: The study of Poetry 1300 - 1800 and the Study of Drama.

Section A - The Study of Poetry 1300 - 1800 - This section consolidates the analytical skills acquired in AS Unit 2 Section A, requiring students to demonstrate a sustained critical response to poetry, as well as knowledge of the contexts in which the poems chosen for study were written.

Section B - The Study of Drama - Through close analysis of two prescribed plays, students construct a response to different interpretations of both works which evaluates the dramatic methods and contexts relevant to each.

Unit 2: The Thematic Study of Prose

Section A - Close Textual Analysis - This section requires students to analyse and evaluate a given extract from a prescribed novel which t hey have selected for study during the course.

Section B - Comparison of Two Novels - Through close comparative analysis of aspects of style, characterisation, themes and contexts, students demonstrate the ability to respond critically to particular readings of the novels studied.

How will I be assessed?


Assessment Format

Weightings & Marks

AS Unit 1

Internal assessment: two pieces

40% AS

20% A Level

AS Unit 2

External Examination (2 Hours): Section A - open book / Section B - closed book

60% AS

30% A Level

A2 Unit 1

External Examination (2 Hours): Section A - extract provided / Section B - closed book

50% A2

25% A Level

Are there any particular qualities and skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

English Literature students should enjoy thinking, reading and writing about texts. Achievement in this subject will be enhanced by an ability to reflect critically and independently upon what has been read.

Studying English Literature therefore nurtures the transferable skills of analysis and communication which are invaluable to most careers. English Literature students go on to have fulfilling careers in many occupations including those in publishing, law, print journalism and broadcasting. Others go into general management, research, consultancy and the public services.