English Literature A Level

At GCE, the English Department aims to prepare pupils for university study, cultivating their own critical responses and engaging with the richness of language and literature. The course enables depth and breadth of learning, with flexible content that supports independence, research skills and wider reading.

Qualification at a glance

Component 1: Drama

Pupils study one drama from either tragedy or comedy (Yr 12), and a Shakespeare play (Yr 13).

Component 2: Prose

Pupils study two prose texts from a chosen theme. At least one of the prose texts must be pre-1900 (Yr 12).

Component 3: Poetry

Pupils study a selection of post-2000 specified poetry (Yr 12) and a specified range of poetry from either a literary period (either pre- or post-1900) or a named poet from within a literary period (Yr 13).

Component 4: Coursework

The freedom within the coursework component allows students to pursue more detailed work on two texts in a field of particular personal interest, offering excellent preparation for study at undergraduate level (Yr 12/13).

Overall, candidates explore individual works of literature, relationships between texts, and significant cultural and contextual influences.

A Level English Literature is an exciting, enlivening and exhilarating course that allows freedom of choice and includes elements of independent study. When possible, visits are organised to see productions of the texts studied, trips to places of interest, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and, keen to expose our pupils to as many speakers as possible, talks and workshops are held by visiting poets and authors. The annual Blackmore and Chesney Society Dinner is also of importance, as we invite a speaker to talk about the importance of the Arts and Humanities in education.

Texts may include:

  • Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Dickens: Hard Times
  • Walker: The Color Purple
  • Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • Shelley: Frankenstein
  • Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Stoker: Dracula
  • Shakespeare: King Lear
  • Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

Selection of modern poetry from Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2002–2011.

  • Keats: Selected Poems
  • Rossetti: Selected Poems

Examination Board



Examples of texts that may be studied

Atonement   The Handmaid's Tale   Hard Times   A Streetcar Named Desire
AS texts by Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Charles Dickens and Tennessee Williams

King Lear
"King Lear", Shakespeare

William Blake

Top Girls

A Doll's House  Oedipus
"Top Girls", "A Doll's House" and "Oedipus"