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English Literature A Level

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1 Drama and Poetry

This exam unit focuses on some of the foundational texts of English Literature: firstly you will study Shakespeare’s Hamlet- his most famous and arguably best play.  You will also compare two texts from very different eras: Chaucer’s 14th Century narrative poem The Merchant’s Tale, and Oscar Wilde’s play An Ideal Husband.

2 Comparative and Contextual Study

The second exam will feature an in-depth study of the Gothic genre.  For part one, you will compare two texts:  Bram Stoker’s 19th Century classic Dracula and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, a late 20th Century reworking of classic fairy tales. For part two, you will analyse an unseen passage from another Gothic text.

3 Coursework: Longer Task

You will compare two texts:  A Streetcar Named Desire by Tenessee Williams- a play set in the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s, and Small Island by Angela Carter, a novel set in Britain, Jamaica and Colonial India during and shortly after World War Two.

4 Coursework: Shorter Task

You will read an anthology of fifteen First World War poems by Wilfred Owen, and write a critical commentary on a poem of your choice.

*Please note that some of the texts listed above may be changed for next academic year.



As some of the texts listed above may be changed for next academic year, we do not ask that you purchase any of the course books in advance until they are finalised in the Summer term 2021.  It is far more important for you to read a range of classic and contemporary quality fiction, as students who read widely tend to get better results for English Literature; this is especially important for those who are considering studying Literature at university. Recommended authors include:

  • Chinua Achebe
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Monica Ali
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Jane Austen
  • Charlotte Brontë
  • Emily Brontë
  • AS Byatt
  • Angela Carter
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Charles Dickens
  • Daphne Du Maurier
  • George Eliot
  • Sebastian Faulks
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • E.M. Forster
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Graham Greene
  • Thomas Hardy
  • L.P. Hartley
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • James Joyce
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • D.H Lawrence
  • Harper Lee
  • Andrea Levy
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Ian McEwan
  • Toni Morrison
  • Iris Murdoch
  • George Orwell
  • Arundhati Roy
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Annie Proulx
  • Jean Rhys
  • John Steinbeck
  • Bram Stoker
  • Alice Walker
  • Sarah Waters
  • Jeanette Winterson
  • Zadie Smith
  • Virginia Woolf


Sample papers

Paper 1

Paper 2