English Literature's historicist approach to the study of literature rests upon reading texts within a shared context. Working from the belief that no text exists in isolation but is the product of the time in which it was produced, English Literature A encourages students to explore the relationships that exist between texts and the contexts within which they are written, received and understood.

Studying texts within a shared context enables students to investigate and connect them, drawing out patterns of similarity and difference using a variety of reading strategies and perspectives.


What will I learn?

Love Through the Ages:  

Topics to explore include romantic love of many kinds; love and sex; love and loss; social conventions and taboos; love through the ages according to history and time; love through the ages according to individual lives (young love, maturing love); jealousy and guilt; truth and deception; proximity and distance; marriage; approval and disapproval.

Texts to be studied are Othello (Shakespeare), a Love poetry anthology and a novel from the following selection:
Jane Austen Persuasion, Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights, Kate Chopin The Awakening, Thomas Hardy Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, E.M. Forster A Room with a View, L.P. Hartley The Go-Between, Daphne Du Maurier Rebecca, Ian McEwan Atonement

Exam: 3 hours. Open book. 40% of A level mark. Includes two unseen poems.

World War 1 Literature:

Topics to explore include imperialism and nationalism; recruitment and propaganda; life on the front line; responses on the home front; pacifism; generals and soldiers; slaughter; heroism; peace and memorials; writers in action and writers looking back; the political and social aftermath; different and changing attitudes to the conflict; impact on combatants, non-combatants and subsequent generations as well as its social, political, personal and literary legacies.

Three texts to be studied from the following list: Pat Barker Regeneration, Sebastian Faulks Birdsong, R.C. Sherriff Journey’s End, Rebecca West The Return of the Soldier, Erich Maria Remarque (translated by Brian Murdoch)All Quiet on the Western Front, Susan Hill Strange Meeting, Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms, Robert Graves Goodbye to All That, Sebastian Barry A Long, Long Way, Ben Elton The First Casualty, Pat Barker Life Class, Peter Whelan The Accrington Pals, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton Blackadder Goes Forth, David Haig My Boy Jack, as well as poetry collections, ed. Brian Gardner Up the Line to Death, ed. Catherine Reilly Scars Upon My Heart.

Exam: 2 hours 30 mins. Open book. 40%. Includes an unseen extract.


Comparison of two texts of your choice. One must be from before 1900. 2.500 words. 20% of A level.


Next step: University and Careers

English is good for any job that involves communication, writing and / or literary knowledge.
These include: advertising, marketing, writing and journalism, law, consultancy, business, teaching, performing arts, academia, government, linguistics, foreign languages, media and design. 

Careers in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths also need more English than you think. Writing proposals, academic papers & articles and communicating with others is key to getting funding for projects and reaching people with your work.