English Literature

Head of Department: Mrs V Pickford: vpickford@kingalfred.somerset.sch.uk


If you enjoy reading books and exploring stories, you will enjoy studying English literature.

Studying this subject will open the door to contemporary and classic stories, which deal with the ‘big questions’ about what it is to be human, how we relate to each other and reality. English literature is an academic subject which will help you to write coherently and critically, as well as developing important transferable skills. You will be encouraged to be a confident independent reader, who is analytical and considers different interpretations.

Is it for me?

Do you enjoy:

  • Reading a variety of texts?
  • Thinking about what you read?
  • Discussing ideas?
  • Going to the theatre?
  • Watching and discussing films?
  • Reading about other people’s views on texts and the issues
  • they raise?
  • Expressing your ideas in writing?

If the answer to most or all of these questions is yes then you will enjoy AS/A2 English Literature!

Read on to find out what the course involves.


Paper 1: Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy                                                   


Study of three texts: one Shakespeare text (’Othello’); a second drama text (‘Death of a Salesman’) and a selection of poetry by John Keats


Section A: one passage based question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks)

Section B: one essay question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks)

Section C: one essay question linking two texts (25 marks)

Assessed through a closed book written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

75marks = 40% of A-level


Paper 2: Texts and Genres: Elements of Political and Social Protest Writing


Study of three texts: two novels (‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) and a selection of poetry by William Blake


Section A: one compulsory question on an unseen passage (25 marks)

Section B: one essay question on set text (25 marks)

Section C: one essay question which connects two texts (25 marks)

Assessed through an open book written exam: 3 hours

75 marks = 40% of A-level


Non- exam assessment: Theory and Independence


What’s assessed:


Study of two texts chosen by students in consultation with subject teacher: one poetry and one prose text, informed by study of the Critical Anthology


Two essays of 1,250 – 1,500 words, each responding to a different text and linking to a

different aspect of the Critical Anthology.


One essay can be re-creative. The re-creative piece will be accompanied by a commentary.


This process is supported by the AQA Critical anthology, which has accessible extracts on the following critical methods and ideas:

•• narrative theory

•• feminist theory

•• Marxist theory

•• eco-critical theory

•• post-colonial theory

•• literary value and the canon.

Assessed by teachers

50 marks

20% of A-level