Requirements for study
To study English at A level you require an "A" grade at GCSE for both Literature and Language.
What are the benefits of studying English at A Level?
English Literature A level is a very varied and demanding course. It is highly valued by universities as an A Level choice. This is a subject likely to be preferred for a variety of courses as it shows an ability to think deeply, as well as to analyse, discuss and communicate confidently and clearly.
The course will builds on students’ learning at GCSE and gives them the opportunity to develop as readers, as a writers and thinkers .The course is stimulating and challenging and suits students who enjoy discussion, debate and analysis. We aim to stimulate and enthuse students by a variety of extra curricular activities including our superb lunchtime extension sessions. Please click here to see what the key skills required to study English at A Level are.
Students study two novels (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman) and a selection of poetry on the theme of work from the anthology Here to Eternity (edited by Andrew Motion). These will be examined in one exam paper, in which you will also have to answer a series of questions on a piece of unseen poetry or prose. They also read two plays by Shakespeare, linked by a common theme. This unit is examined by coursework: one creative response (e.g. a review of a performance or director’s notes for a production) and one critical essay.
Students study ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as a poetry collection called ‘Rapture’ by Carol Ann Duffy. The common theme is relationships. In the final examination students write one essay covering all three texts and also respond to an unseen poem or prose extract.
A special feature of studying English in Year 13 at Henrietta Barnett is that students have a completely free choice of texts to compare in their extended coursework essay. This piece is worth 40% of their final mark. This prepares students superbly for the kind of work they will do at university. They can choose poetry, prose or drama and will receive individual support from their teacher throughout the process. They will learn about research skills, become more familiar with critical movements and understand the understand how changing contexts influence critical reception.
Recommended reading list
• 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem: A Poem for Every Week of the Year by Ruth Padell
• Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedy by Fintan O'Toole
• How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide by John Sutherland
• How Novels Work by John Mullan