Exam Board - Edexcel


What is English Literature and why study it?

People have been telling stories for millennia. Literally. Experts believe the first story was 'put down on paper' over 4000 years ago; though evidence exists to suggest that the origins of storytelling go back even further, to almost 40,000 years ago. You could say sharing stories is what make us human.


Each of these stories offers fascinating insights into the thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, ideas and beliefs of people past and present, both within the UK and beyond it; the more of them we read, the more we come to realise not only what makes us unique, but also what unites us.


The English Literature A level is a demanding course, but a rewarding one, aimed at anyone who loves reading and wants to learn more about themselves, other people and the world we live in. It allows you to study a wider and more diverse range of poems, plays and prose than at GCSE, and to study them in much more depth. Some of the texts you might study at INA include:


  • Modern novels, such as The Handmaid's Tale
  • C19th novels, such as Frankenstein
  • Contemporary plays, such as A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Plays by Shakespeare, such as Othello
  • Poetry through the ages, including a collection of C21st poems
  • Texts that explore controversial issues such as feminism and/or colonialism
  • Literature from other cultures and traditions


These units will of course be supplemented by extra-curricular theatre and university trips and visits, as well as by your own wider reading. In addition, you will be encouraged to explore the contexts of the texts you study, as well as how others have interpreted them, to help you develop your own informed critical stance, which you will learn to express with greater sophistication than at GCSE.


As a result, you'll develop a wide range of transferable skills, including the ability to:

  • conduct independent research and study
  • develop and articulate ideas with clarity, precision and passion both verbally and in writing
  • read critically, think deeply, and better understand society and the human condition


Where next?

English Literature is seen as one of nine 'facilitating subjects' by the Russell Group universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol etc. As a result, it’s a course you should seriously consider taking if you intend to apply for any of the courses offered by these institutions. Whether you’re thinking of a degree or career in law, politics, journalism, media, marketing, advertising, PR, philosophy, history, anthropology, theatre, film, or the visual arts, you’ll find the Literature A level extremely helpful.


What are the entrance requirements?

Grade 6 in GCSE English language and Grade 6 in GCSE English literature.


Who do I need to see for more information?

Ms R Rudd, Head of English or Mr J Holt, KS5 Lead Teacher of English