English Literature

Exam Board: AQA

The course is suited to students who enjoy reading and exploring literature and have a creative mind.

English Literature Paper One – Aspects of Tragedy

Section A: Shakespeare extract question- The exam will present you with an extract from ‘Othello’, you will be required to analyse the tragedy conventions within the extract and link this then to the play as a whole. ‘Othello’ will be studied in this unit.

Section B:  One essay set Shakespeare text. ‘Othello’ will be studied in the unit.

Section C: One essay question linking two texts: one modern tragic text is studied (‘Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller) and one pre-1900 text (John Keats poetry).

Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes, Closed book, 75 marks, 40% of A-level

English Literature Paper Two- Elements of Social and Political Protest Writing (3 hours, open book exam)

Section A:  One compulsory question on an unseen passage.

Section B:  One essay question on set text. Students study three texts within the unit, they must choose one for this question.

Section C: One essay question which connects two texts. Students will use the two other texts studied to answer this question

Texts studied: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini and ‘Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience’ by William Blake.

Written Exam: 3 hours, Open book, 75 marks, 40% of A-level

Non-exam assessment: theory and independence

Study of two texts: one poetry and one prose text, informed by study of the Critical Anthology

Two essays of 1250–1500 words, each responding to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the Critical anthology.  One essay can be re-creative. The re-creative piece will be accompanied by a commentary.


Assessed - 50 marks, 20% of A-level, Assessed by teachers,

Moderated by AQA

Assessment - Externally assessed examinations and (for A Level) internally assessed coursework.


General Sixth Form admission requirements and at least a grade 5 in GCSE English Language, though a Grade 6 is preferred.

Where can it lead?

English Literature is a strong, traditional A-Level and is a facilitating subject with a good academic standing with universities. It can lead to employment in a number of different careers such as journalism, the media, the law and teaching, but also complements pathways such as Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts.