English Literature

The study of English Literature requires an open mind, an aptitude for debate and discussion and above all, a passion for reading.  Literature opens doors into the imagination. It allows us to explore the world through the eyes of another and enables us to develop our own opinions and ideas. The enjoyment of literature lies in the emotions it conjures and the discussion it sparks.

“Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart.”

Salman Rushdie

Entry requirements

Automatic entry onto Level 3 courses includes students achieving 4 x A*-C or equivalent at GCSE alongside a grade 5 or above in both English and Mathematics. Students with either English and/or Mathematics at grade 4 or below will have individual meetings to determine the most suitable pathway within sixth form.

Course description

English Literature encourages students to understand how narrative works, to look at genre and to learn about critical approaches to texts. Students discover how central narrative is to the way literary texts work and they are introduced to the different aspects of genre. Encouraging wide and independent reading, the course also considers different types of critical approach and how texts can reflect cultural meanings.

Students will explore aspects of tragedy, including the study of Othello, Death of a Salesman, the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Students will also consider elements of political and social protest writing, including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Kite Runner and the poetry of William Blake.

Exam board

AQA A Level English Literature B

Past papers



Students sit two exams at the end of year 13, each exam is worth 40% of the final grade. They also complete two coursework essays of 1250 – 1500 words that makes up the final 20% of the total grade.

Possible progression

In addition to learning more about literature, you will develop a wide variety of skills that are highly regarded both by employers and universities. English Literature prepares you for careers which require good communication skills such as publishing, public relations, marketing, journalism, management, the legal profession, teaching and many others. It is the course you should take if you want to study English at university or teach English in a high school or college.

Ways to help my child succeed

Ensure your child has access to a range of literary texts. These might include novels, literary non-fiction (travel writing, autobiographies) and membership at a local library. Where possible, discuss books that you have read and enjoyed, and provide opportunities to widen your child’s experience of Literature. Visits to the theatre to see live productions are also highly recommended where possible. Finally, ensure that your child keeps to the deadlines and completes the required reading outside of the classroom.

Useful websites