English Literature

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OCR English Literature

English Literature A-Level is highly regarded by universities because it demonstrates that you can organise sound arguments that are relevant and logically presented, and that you have highly developed critical and analytical skills. English Literature explores those texts that are generally thought of as ‘art’ – poems, plays and novels. It is a course well suited to individuals who read for pleasure and who enjoy discussing what they read.

English Literature is regarded as a ‘facilitating subject’ by universities – that is, it is of sufficient quality to count for applications in any subject to Russell Group universities. Students have gone on to study a very wide range of subjects at university. In addition to English and related subjects, you can read for degrees in such subjects as Anthropology and Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Criminology, Law, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Physics, Psychology, Theatre, Film and Television to name just a few. English Literature is an interesting and highly valued course that will open up a wide range of possibilities for the future.

Entry requirements

The general entry requirements for studying at Advanced Level apply, and must include a minimum of grade 6 in English Literature GCSE.

Course structure

This is a two year programme of study leading to A level.  

Course content

At A level there are three components. Component 1 is the study of pre-1900 drama and poetry, including Shakespeare.  The current cohort is studying Hamlet, Paradise Lost Books 9 and 10, and Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. This component is worth 40% of the A level.

Component 2 involves the study of a particular genre in literature, including comparing two novels, and analysing an unseen extract from that genre.  The current Year 13 cohort is studying Gothic Literature, with a comparison of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber stories, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The current Year 12 cohort is studying The Immigrant Experience, with Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, and Andrea Levy's Small Island.  Students will consider why readers often have different attitudes to texts and the significance of the period in which they were written.  This component is also worth 40% of the A level.

Component 3 is the two Coursework essays, representing 20% of the A level. For the first of two essays students will write a critical analysis of a key scene in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. The second essay is a comparison between two feminist texts: Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, and Carol Ann Duffy's Feminine Gospels.  Students will be able to choose which aspect of the texts to write about and agree the title of their essay with their teacher.

How is the course is taught?

You will be taught by a team of two teachers and much of the work in class is done in discussion groups - both large and small - with topics sometimes being presented by students themselves or through the use of a variety of media. Reading and some writing of essays take place out of class, and, in addition, you are offered individual support workshops, background lectures, theatre visits and other extra-curricular opportunities.


Two written examinations and a piece of coursework (20%).  

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