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English Literature

Why study English Literature?

It may surprise you to know that A Level English Literature is not just about great books!  Throughout the course at Mary Hare Sixth Form, you will examine different approaches to classic and modern literature. Through the exciting and absorbing range of texts on offer, you will also be encouraged to consider the changing traditions of literature as a product of society, culture and history; challenging conventional attitudes and expectations.

What does the course cover and what is expected of you?

Year 12 students study two components. One is the study of Shakespeare and poetry pre-1900 and the other component explores drama and prose literature post-1900. Students are expected to analyse how language, structure and form create meaning for readers as well as developing their critical literary skills.

In Year 13 students study three further components; Shakespeare, drama and poetry pre-1900 paying close attention to language; the comparative and contextual study where they will focus on character, theme and genre and the Critical and Comparative study which focuses on more modern texts, further developing their research, analytical and independent study skills. They will also engage with the views of different literary critics.

Where can it take you?

Careers in media, theatre, television, writing and teaching can be attainable to those who study English Literature. Whatever your ambitions though, the course will improve your skills as a communicator and enable you to argue a point of view logically and coherently. In particular the course encourages and develops independence and critical thinking and these are attributes that universities, colleges and employers value very highly.

Entry requirements

Five GCSEs at 5  or above, including English at grade 5 or 6, are required for this course.

Courses assessment

In Year 12, each of the two components will be assessed by external examination. 

In Year 13, components one and two are assessed by external examination and component three will be assessed by a 3000 word coursework submission.

Exam Board


Student View

Studying English Literature has enabled me to not only analyse popular novels and writers and learn to write brilliant essays, but it has also opened my eyes to events that occur worldwide. English involves a wide range of things from studying the cultural background of a novel to a bit of drama, to class discussions developing ideas and opinions. English is also a very good skill to have so it really contributes to other subjects you might study at A Level. For me, it really mixes well with French and Psychology! I recommend students to pick English Literature, it will definitely be a choice you won't regret!

I really enjoy reading the various texts and learning about different authors and genres.  I also really enjoy the complex analysis, “reading-between-the-lines” kind of thing as it almost always gives me a whole new perspective to a text and it changes how I feel. That’s what I find so intriguing about English Literature.

Teacher's Tip

Make use of your student diary and stay organised. Make a note of your deadlines and keep to them, otherwise work can pile up and it’s difficult to get back on track.