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English Literature

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Exam Board and Specification Codes: OCR (H472)

This is a stimulating, challenging qualification which encourages students to develop a love of literature in all its forms: prose, poetry, drama and literary criticism. Perhaps the most satisfying element of the subject is the divergence of opinion that literary study will engender. Literary analysis, almost by definition, will be the cause of disagreement amongst critics. Such debates test the validity of one’s own presumptions not only about the texts under discussion but about the myriad of moral, philosophical, emotional, political and aesthetic questions that arise from it.

It is a course, in short, that teaches clarity of thought.

Studying Literature at A-Level will teach students to think clearly and analytically about the fascinating debates that literary texts raise. It will also develop their skills as a reader and a critical writer that will equip them for both university study and your future career. 


What is covered by the course? 

Component 1 - A contextual study of a genre

Students explore and study two whole texts from one of the genres in the following list: 

  • American Literature 1880-1940 (‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck) 
  • The Gothic (‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker, ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ by Angela Carter) 
  • Dystopia (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell) 
  • Women in Literature (‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Jane Austen, ‘Mrs Dalloway’ byVirginia Woolf) 
  • The Immigrant Experience (‘The Reluctant Fundamentalists’ by Mohsin Hamid, ‘Call It Sleep’ by Henry Roth) 

Component 2 - A Shakespearean response, and a comparison of drama and poetry 

Students explore and study one Shakespeare play (‘Coriolanus’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Measure for Measure’, ‘Richard III’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘Twelfth Night’) 

For Component 3 and 4, the coursework aspect of the course, students are required to study three literary texts.

The three texts must include one prose text, one poetry text and one drama text: 

  • the texts must have been first published or performed in 1900 or later 
  • one literary text must have been first published or performed after 2000. 

Students are required to produce a folder of coursework of around 3000 words with two tasks. 

Component 3 - Close reading OR re-creative writing with commentary based on one literary text

Candidates can select to do: 

  • Either – a close, critical analysis of a section of their chosen text or poem. Candidates are recommended to select a small section of text, three to four pages of prose or drama or up to 45 lines of poetry. 
  • Or – an item of re-creative writing based on a selected passage of their chosen text or of their chosen poem, with a commentary explaining the links between the candidate’s own writing and the original passage selected. 

Component 4 - Comparative Essay of two literary texts

Candidates submit an essay considering two texts, exploring contrasts and comparisons between them, informed by different interpretations and an understanding of contexts. 


How is it examined? 

Paper 1 - Written Assessment (2 hours and 30 minutes) 

  • Two Shakespeare essays and a comparative poetry and drama essay 
  • 40% of the total A-Level 

Paper 2 - Written Assessment (2 hours and 30 minutes) 

  • A contextual extract essay and a comparative contextual essay 
  • 40% of the total A-Level 

Paper 3 - Coursework 

  • Close reading OR re-creative writing with commentary based on one literary text
    o Either – a close, critical analysis of a section of their chosen text or poem (candidates are recommended to select a small section of text, three to four pages of prose or drama or up to 45 lines of poetry)
    o Or an item of re-creative writing based on a selected passage of their chosen text or of their chosen poem, with a commentary explaining the links between the candidate’s own writing and the original passage selected 
  • Comparative Essay of two literary texts (candidates submit an essay considering two texts, exploring contrasts and comparisons between them, informed by different interpretations and an understanding of contexts) 
  • 20% of the total A-Level 

Related university courses & careers? 

English Literature is an A-Level identified as a ‘facilitating subject’ by the Russell Group universities, and contributes valuably to an application for any degree course in arts or humanities. 

The careers pursued by graduates in Literature encompass journalism, publishing, marketing, PR, law, and almost anything else you care to mention.


Suggested literature & resources 

‘Edward II’ by Christopher Marlowe
‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid
‘The Duchess of Malfi’ by John Webster
‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker
‘The Secret River’ by Kate Grenville
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë
‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
‘Tom Stoppard’ by Arcadia
‘She Stoops to Conquer’ by Oliver Goldsmith
‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald
‘An Ideal Husband’ by Oscar Wilde
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
‘The Portrait of a Lady‘ by Henry James
‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks
‘Jerusalem’ by Jez Butterworth
‘Saturday’ Ian McEwan
‘The Waste Land and Other Poems’ by T S Eliot
‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller
‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury


Lower School

Kensington Park School (Years 7-11),
40-44 Bark Place,
London,
W2 4AT

Tel: +44 (0)20 7616 4400


Sixth Form

Kensington Park School Sixth Form,
59 Queen's Gate,
South Kensington, London,
SW7 5JP, UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 7225 0577


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