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A-Level English

English Literature is one of the most popular subject choices at A-level nationally. This is due to the enduring appeal of studying people and the ideas and experiences that they have had. Indeed, English Literature is as concerned with these things as it is with the way in which they have been written down. This introduction will outline the course we offer at St. Olave's, suggest some of the skills we are looking for in students, and explain how the study of English Literature will open up possibilities. At least a Grade 7 in GCSE English (either language or Literature accepted) is required by students wishing to study A-Level English Literature.  Students will confirm whether they will be sitting AS or continuing to A-Level in the first half of Year 12.
AS Level
This consists of two units of assessment:
  • Component 1: Shakespeare and Poetry (Closed Text Examination ) 50% of AS qualification
    • Section A: You will study a Shakespeare play and answer one question.
    • Section B: You will study a selection of one poet’s work and answer one question.
  • Component 2: Drama post 1900 & Prose post 1900 (Closed text Examination) 50% of qualification
    • Section A: You will study a modern play and answer one question.
    • Section B: You will study a modern novel and answer one question.
This consists of three units:           
  • Component  1: Drama and Poetry pre-1900 (Closed Text Examination) 40% of qualification
    • Section A: You will study one Shakespeare play and answer one question from a choice of two.
    • Section B: You will study one drama text and one poetry text and base your answer on a comparative study with substantial discussion of both texts.
  • Component 2: Comparative and contextual study (Closed Text Examination) 40% of qualification
    • Section A: You will be asked to produce a close reading of a key passage
    • Section B: You will study two novels and base your answer on a comparative study with substantial discussion of both texts.
  • Component 3: Literature post 1900 (Coursework) 20% of qualification
    • You will study three texts; at least one published after 2000 to promote an interest and enjoyment of contemporary literature. The coursework folder will contain two assignments (maximum of 3000 words).
At both levels your reading will be supplemented through theatre visits, workshops, conferences and television and film interpretations.
As well as studying English Literature at an advanced level, this course will also enable you to develop Key Skills which will be essential to you whatever you do afterwards. We focus on the following Key Skills throughout the course:


e.g. group discussion, making a presentation, dramatisation of a scene

Information Technology:

e.g. using different kinds of databases, applying IT in a  presentation

Improving own learning & performance:

e.g. planning work schedules, self-evaluation

Working with others:

e.g. planning and presenting a group performance 

We are looking for students who are confident in expressing their opinion and value the essay as a means of considering, developing and shaping arguments. Students should see the course as an opportunity to demystify explain, express and present their own reactions to the works they have encountered.
If you can bring these kinds of skills to our course then we will aim to equip you with the ability to assimilate, select and present material with confidence and assurance; enable you to look objectively and critically at texts; and show you how to present ideas clearly, accurately and unambiguously in speech and in writing. In return, you will benefit from a course which opens up many possibilities in higher education and work. If you feel that you have the determination and desire to handle the course then we'd be very pleased to hear from you.
  • Theatre visits as appropriate
  • Opportunity to join a Theatre Society offering four productions throughout the year.
  • Study days Autumn/Spring term to support specific units delivered by University Academics.
  • Literature Society allowing students to explore areas of own interest
  • Lectures 
Associated Careers
  • Media
  • Journalism/Publishing
  • Law
  • Management
  • Politics
  • The Arts