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 Pearson Edexcel Advanced GCE linear course enables depth and breadth of learning, with flexible content that supports independence, research skills and wider reading. It consists of three externally examined papers and one coursework component. The qualification requires the study of eight literary texts, plus unseen poetry.

It will suit anyone who gained at least a B in their IGCSE English Literature exam and can be combined with Drama, History, Ethics or Classics, but would effortlessly complement any other subject of your choosing.

Qualification at a glance

Component 1: pupils study one Shakespeare play and one other drama from either tragedy or comedy.

Component 2: pupils study two prose texts from a chosen theme. At least one of the prose texts must be pre-1900.

Component 3: pupils study a selection of post-2000 specified poetry 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.

Component 4: 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.

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.

Texts may include:

  • Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Dickens: Hard Times
  • Walker: The Colour Purple
  • Shakespeare: King Lear
  • Keats: Selected Poems

AS texts

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

A2 texts

King Lear
"King Lear", Shakespeare

William Blake

Top Girls

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


Specialists should have gained a good pass at GCSE and must be prepared to read widely and to make up their own minds about texts.