Most people still assume that an A Level in English means a course in Literature. It is the traditional, well-established qualification, highly regarded by all universities and employers. If you are thinking of studying English at university, then this is the qualification that would be expected by all institutions.
The English Literature course will cover all three literary forms: prose, poetry and drama. There will be opportunities to study texts within the context of a particular period; to analyse the connections between different writers; and to examine why we respond in certain ways to particular texts.
The kinds of assessment are equally varied, involving both open and closed book examinations. There is a coursework module in the second year.
The new specifications emphasise the historical/social contexts in which texts were first produced and the differing interpretations that have been formulated in reading the texts, but at the centre of this course remains detailed knowledge of the texts themselves.
English Literature is essentially a course in reading; to enjoy it, you must like reading, both the re-reading of the exam texts and following your own interests.
Component 1: Poetry - Written examination: 2 hours - 30% of qualification
- Section A: Poetry pre-1900 (open-book, clean copy) - One two-part question based on the reading of one pre-1900 poetry text from a prescribed list
- Section B: Poetry post-1900 (open-book, clean copy) - One question from a choice of two based on the reading of two post-1900 poetry text from a prescribed list
Component 2: Drama - Written Examination: 2 hours - 30% qualification
- Section A: Shakespeare (closed-book) - One two part question based on the reading of Shakespeare play from a prescribed list
- Section B: Drama (closed Book) - One question from a choice of two based on the reading of a pair of plays: one pre-1900 and one post-1900, from a prescribed list
Component 3: Unseen Texts - Written Examination: 2 hours - 20% of qualification
- Section A: Unseen Prose - One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen passage of prose, taken from one of two prescribed periods for study
- Section B: Unseen poetry - One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen poem or poetry extract
Component 4: Prose Study - Non-exam assessment: 2500-3500 words - 20% of qualification
- One 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of twoprose texts from different periods, one pre-2000 and one post-2000, nominated by the centre
This course involves many different topics from a range of subjects and could be taken to complement other AS and A level GCEs, which could lead to higher education in a range of subjects. This qualification can often play an important factor in securing a place in a higher education institution.
You could go straight into a job as the AS GCE is a recognised qualification that will provide a good foundation for entry to employment as it provides you with the basic skills, understanding and knowledge that many employers across lots of industries are looking for. You could take this course to complement other advanced level courses or to prepare for the A level part of an Advanced GCE in English Literature, which could lead onto higher education in English related studies or more general higher education courses. With further training, you could go into a job related to English Literature such as a Teacher, Journalist, Author or Poet.