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English Literature

A Level English Literature is an incredible opportunity to delve into the world of reading, words and debate.

Drama, conflict, love and tension: the whole human condition is under scrutiny at every turn on our A Level course. You will have the unique chance to engage with an array of powerful texts which will challenge your perceptions of the world around you whilst offering you the chance to exercise a sharp, inquisitive and critical mind. You will be encouraged to develop your own critical positions and to make your own choices about tasks and texts for the coursework module too. Your reading will not only take you on a journey through prose, poetry and drama: you will also engage with challenging accounts which illustrate the world the writers were living in and take in a broad range of critical essays and writing.

Across the course, you will study a variety of set texts which cover poetry and drama. Poets such as Seamus Heaney, Owen Sheers and John Donne are considered against a vibrant range of contextual and critical viewpoints. For drama, plays such as The Duchess of Malfi and A Streetcar Named Desire are contrasted, whilst a Shakespeare text like King Lear is analysed through the backdrop of Jacobean politics. We also make sure that you can see drama in performance and look for the best of London’s theatre scene to enrich the study of plays in performance.

The coursework module allows you to choose a pre-2000 text to compare with something more contemporary such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Students have previously worked on investigations covering the presentation of religion, dystopian landscapes and the role of women; where you take the essay is up to you.

Alongside the set texts you will cover a plethora of poetry and prose in preparation for the unseen module. Writers from the late Victorian era and the Moderninst era including Oscar Wilde, EM Forster, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence are analysed against aspects of their society which influenced their writing. For poetry we look across the whole spectrum of English Literature from Chaucer to more modern writers like Dan Gerber.

It’s vital that you should enjoy reading if you would like to study English Literature; intellectual curiosity and a desire to see new perspectives are both desirable and sharpened during the course by your teachers, your reading and visiting speakers. Not surprisingly, English Literature is an excellent preparation for anybody whose university subject or future career will involve analytical skills and coherent writing.

Exam board
EDUQAS

Mr Robert Shaughnessy
Head of English