Head of Department – Mr P Coals
English Language – Grade 6 English Literature – Grade 6
Examination Board: Edexcel
Introduction/General Advice and Requirements
The English Literature course is concerned with a detailed analysis of a wide variety of texts. It continues the work begun at GCSE and will appeal to those students who enjoy reading and expressing their opinions on characters, themes and the methods employed by individual writers.
There is emphasis on how writers use language to create meaning. The course also encourages students to develop their own reading preferences and this is reflected in a totally independent choice for their A Level coursework.
Course Content & Assessment
A-Level students study a Shakespeare play; one other drama text; two novels one of which must be pre-1900; a range of poetry from a literary period or a range of poetry by a named poet within that literary period. They will also be expected to respond to an unseen poem and compare this text with another poem from a contemporary anthology. They will analyse various poems on various themes in order to practise for the unseen poetry question which is an integral part of the poetry examination module. In addition to the above, students will have a free choice of two texts for their coursework to formulate their own comparative response.
Component 1 is the Drama examination which lasts 2 hours and is worth (30%). It consists of the study of a Shakespeare text and one other drama text. We are currently studying Othello and A Streetcar Named Desire. Students are encouraged to read critical comments about these texts and to use these opinions to help formulate their own ideas.
Component 2 is the Prose study which centres around two novels. These texts are linked by theme and the students will be expected to respond to a generic comparative question in 1 hour (20%) focusing specifically on relevant contextual factors. This year one class is studying The Color Purple – Alice Walker and Hard Times – Charles Dickens. The other group is focusing on Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro and Frankenstein – Mary Shelley.
Component 3 focuses on Poetry and is worth (30%). The examination lasts 2 hours. One hour is devoted to the analysis of an unseen poem and an additional modern poetry text and the second hour will be focused on writing a comparative poetry response on at least two of the poems studied in class. These poems will all be from the same literary period. We are studying the compulsory text Poems of the Decade which focuses on post 2000 poetry. We are currently giving serious thought to teaching either Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale or a more modern collection by T S Eliot in year 13.
All of the above units are open book examinations which will mean students have access to their set texts in the examination itself. In year 12 we focus on the drama and one of the poetry texts. In addition to the above units, there is a compulsory coursework unit Component 4. This is worth (20%). It is a 3000-word comparative study of 2 texts. The choice of texts is free although students will be given guidance in making appropriate selections. They have the option of exploring any of the three genres: novels and short stories; drama and poetry. They are expected to choose their own area of study on their chosen texts but they will be supported throughout the process by teaching staff.
A Level English Literature provides students with the skills to read analytically and with insight. It demands a balanced argument and well-structured written responses. It develops research skills which are invaluable at higher education level. The subject also encourages students to formulate their own opinions based on evidence from the text and critical comments which they are expected to have read. It is a challenging but a very enjoyable experience exchanging ideas and theories about characters, their context and their situation created for them by the author.
It is particularly appropriate for such careers as advertising; teaching; the law; the civil service; publishing and journalism; all forms of management, the police, business and finance and public relations.