English Literature

English Literature

Exam Board: Edexcel

Entry Requirements: Grade 7 in English Literature and at least a Grade 6 in English Language

What will you learn?

  • A Level English builds on the knowledge and skills acquired at GCSE. You will learn new concepts and approaches to literature and gain a deeper insight into the way writers craft their work. 
  • Across the two years, you will study: 
  • A Shakespeare play 
  • Collections of pre-1900 and post-1900 poetry 
  • Two prose texts 
  • One modern drama 
  • You will also have the opportunity to complete an independent study project. This module gives you the freedom to choose your own texts to compare, and essay questions to respond to, allowing you to pursue your own literary interests and deepen understanding of your chosen area. 

What does the assessment look like?

  • The exam board is Edexcel (9ET0) and the assessment is 80% Exam and 20% Coursework
  • All core texts are assessed in formal examinations. There will also be unseen elements to each exam.
  • The Independent Study unit is assessed in a formal coursework essay.

Choose this subject if you…

  • Love reading and want to learn more about a wide range of literature
  • Enjoy thinking about and exploring some of life’s biggest questions - “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” René Descartes
  • Express your opinions well – both in speech and in writing
  • Want to develop your understanding of literature from all over the world
  • Are interested in developing your critical, analytical faculties
  • Are interested in human rights, justice and politics and how authors explore and affect our understandings of these ideas
  • Possess empathy, curiosity and enthusiasm!
  • Want to keep your options open for further study – English Literature is a popular qualification for a wide range of courses in higher education or for future careers, including: Medicine, Accountancy, Law, PPE, Politics and all academic degrees

Students with A Level English Literature have a wide range of possible higher education or career opportunities open to them. The course helps to develop a keen eye for detail, a deep understanding of and appreciation for the written word, and the ability to analyse and evaluate ideas in depth.

There are many job opportunities open to students with an A Level in English Literature, including:

  • Lawyer
  • Writer
  • Publisher
  • Journalist
  • Teacher
  • Public Relations
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Film and TV
  • Travel
  • Politics

Recommended reading:


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Purple Hibiscus, Americanah

Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin

Daphne Du Maurier - Rebecca

F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night

Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner

Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go

Andrea Levy - Small Island

George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-Four

Alice Walker - The Colour Purple

Zadie Smith - White Teeth, NW, On Beauty


Ted Hughes

John Keats

Philip Larkin

Sylvia Plath

Christina Rossetti


George Bernard Shaw

Tennessee Williams

Polly Stenham


Anon: I Am The Secret Footballer

Maya Angelou: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Robert Graves: Goodbye To All That

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Malcolm X - Autobiography