St John Plessington Catholic College

About the Course:

This subject is offered as an A Level course. Did you enjoy your experience of English Literature at GCSE? Did you attain your targets in Year 11 and are you keen to learn more about novels, plays, and poetry? Do you have a real love of reading and exploring texts? Studying English Literature at AS and A2 will give you the chance to read and respond to some wonderful novels, plays, short stories and poems. Students will also be encouraged to respond creatively to texts they have read by writing their own work to explore a feature of a novel that they have enjoyed or been inspired by. The texts students will study cover a wide range from classic established literature such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and John Milton’s Paradise Lost to more contemporary works such as Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 or Philip Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings.

In addition, students who follow this course learn how to plan and explore issues within a text as well as taking into account the historical context in which the works were produced. An AS and A2 qualification in English Literature shows that a student is highly motivated, literate, and confident in their own ability to explore texts and clearly express their opinions using evidence from a wide range of literature. You will need grade C or above in both English and English Literature at GCSE in order to tackle this course.


Students complete a mixture of coursework assignments as well as external examinations throughout the course.


Unit 1 - LT 1 - Poetry and Drama 1 (2½ hour written exam)
Proposed texts:

  • Philip Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings coupled with Dannie Abse’s Welsh Retrospective
  • Brian Friel’s play Dancing at Lughnasa

Unit 2 – LT 2 - Prose Study and Creative Reading (coursework)
Students will produce a portfolio of approximately 1,500 words on the proposed texts:

  • F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby coupled with his short story A Diamond As Big as the Ritz
  • For the Creative Reading option, students will produce a portfolio of approximately 1,500 words in response to a prose text from a particular genre. Students will explore the Dystopian Prose Genre and will study either George Orwell’s work Nineteen Eighty Four or Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale


Unit 3 - LT 3 - Period and Genre Studies (coursework)

Students will produce a portfolio of approximately 3,000 words on these proposed texts which follow a particular theme such as the effects of modern warfare on the individual:

  • Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 explored alongside the poetry of Wilfrid Owen and Rupert Brooke

Unit 4 - LT 4 - Poetry and Drama 2 (2½ hour written exam)
Proposed texts:

  • Section A – Critical Reading of Poetry

Students will answer questions based on John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost Book IX as well as completing an unseen poetry section.

  • Section B – Shakespeare and Related Drama

Students will answer questions in relation to the proposed texts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet coupled with Tourneur’s The Revenger’s Tragedy or Shakespeare’s The Tempest coupled with Marlow’s Dr Faustus.

Progression Routes

This subject would mix very well with various others such as Psychology, History, Religious Studies or the Science subjects. Many of our students go on to University to study English which as a degree offers graduates a wide choice of future employment opportunities such as teaching, management, journalism, computing, law, publishing, marketing and working in the public sector. An English Degree shows an employer a student is intelligent, eloquent and able to express themselves clearly and appropriately.

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