English Literature A level

What will I study in English Literature A level?

Pupils who embark on this course will explore some of the most infuential, stimulating and enjoyable texts ever written. The prose, drama and poetry studied are comic, tragic, philosophical, perplexing and unnerving. Pupils should be curious and enjoy reading of their own volition and be capable of carrying out independent study, e.g. wider reading and searching for literary criticism to bolster the academic register of their essays.

As all the units will be examined at the end of Year 13, it is imperative that all pupils are aware that the ability to remember key quotations and terminology is a vital aspect of exam success. The exams are ‘open book’, but the texts will be clean copies and an intimate knowledge of all the set texts is vital.

Entry requirements

Pupils are required to have studied English Literature and English Languages at GCSE and received a minimum of a grade 6 in both.

Units of study

Units and Set Texts:

  • Unit 1: One Shakespeare play (King Lear) and Marlowe’s Dr Faustus. Plus the study of a collection of related essays (literary criticism). 30% exam: 2 hours (open book)
  • Unit 2: Supernatural : Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray 20% exam: 1 hours (open book)
  • Unit 3: Unseen Practice: modern poetry. The study of one era Pre- 1900 Poetry from: Medieval, Metaphysical, Romantic or Victorian. 30% exam: 2 hours (open book)
  • Unit 4: Gothic Literature: Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein 20% folder: 2,500-3,000 words


The Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in English Literature consists of three externally examined papers and one coursework component. The qualifcation requires the study of eight set texts plus unseen poetry. There will also be the requirement for wider reading and independent research. All three exams will be taken, and the coursework folder submitted, at the end of Year 13.

Where could it lead?

An English Literature A level is a good base to study a number of degrees at university.

English Literature can help facilitate a variety of career paths including, journalism, marketing, communications, copywriting and publishing.