Qualification A full A Level course in English Literature.
AS and A2 in English Literature.
On successful completion of both the AS and A2 courses, students will receive a full A Level qualification in English Literature. (Specification: AQA GCE, AS and A Level English Literature A.)
Once you have successfully completed the course, you will have gained invaluable knowledge of literary techniques and your awareness of traditions should be considerably enhanced. Successful candidates will have an increased and more refined understanding of the correlation between literary manuscripts and their perspective globally.
The aim of this course is to ensure that you develop the skills required to evaluate literary texts and explain multifaceted literary points of view using apposite terms. English Literature is an ever changing subject that needs, and indeed, promotes a sound appreciation of theory, both historical and political, as well as a wholehearted awareness of artistic and innovative skills and customs.
Quite often, A Level English Literature exam questions will ask the students contextualise some issues in detail. Knowing and being able to pinpoint the political and historical undertones of its time the student’s interest in the literary work will be strengthened and lead to a better understanding and enthusiasm for the time and the place . There are texts that will be studied and these are identified.
To excel in English Literature is not just to read those texts. It is to study critique and to learn to think independently about the works being read, the time period they were being read in and the backdrop of political and social history that existed at that time.
For a student to succeed in this they will need to read much more widely and be able to determine comparisons between texts of a similar genre for example or across genres of a time period. Widening their reading to include critiques will enable the student to develop the skills to critically assess work themselves, using their newly acquired expanse of knowledge of other literature. Being able to demonstrate this to the examiner shows a love of books and reading and demonstrates that the student understands more than just the words alone.
Format of Course
The format of the course combines AS and A2 qualifications to create a full A Level. A pass in both is required to achieve the full A Level
AS - Unit 1 Texts in Context (Exam) (60% of AS; 30% of A Level)
AS - Unit 2 Creative Study (Coursework portfolio - 2 essays) (40% of AS; 20% of A Level)
A2 - Unit 3 Reading for Meaning (Exam) (60% of A2; 30% of A Level)
A2 - Unit 4 Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study (Coursework) (40% of A2; 20% of A Level)
For each unit, course notes have been developed to assist the student to a successful outcome, assessed either by continuous assessment (coursework) or by examination. Not only does the course material address the specific texts but also encourages wider reading and offers suggestions for relevant further study using a range of media. The course guide also provides individual exercises, many of which are informal, but some are tutor-marked assessments.
Students are encouraged to discuss important literary themes with their tutors via email. Practice exercises prepare students for examinations and independent written work. Students are advised to complete every exercise and prepare for each tutorial as specified in advance.
Tutorials may vary in length. It is expected that students should spend between two and three hours on each one, or as advised by their personal tutor. Each unit begins with an 'overview', so it is important that, before addressing specific themes and texts in detail, tutorials should be studied according to the given order.
The AS Level is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of a particular literary context. A close focus on the literature of World War One during units 1 and 2 encourages participants to assess and compare texts which bear a close thematic relation to one another. This provides students with a thorough grounding in contextual analysis - an essential skill for further study at A2 Level and, should they choose to continue their study of English literature, in Higher Education.
Units 3 and 4 (A2) give students a greater independence in their studies, focusing on thematic relationships between texts. In Unit 4, an extended essay of 3,000 words gives students the opportunity to amalgamate all of their skills in an in-depth and personal response to a Shakespearean text. As with any other academic area of study, English Literature has its own distinct language and terminology. Candidates are expected to be able both to understand and use literary terms with accuracy and relevance, demonstrating this in coursework and in the examinations. It is advisable to take separate notes on specific literary terms and, if necessary, build a file which can be referred to for revision.
AS Level Unit 1 - Texts in Context: World War One Literature
Assessment: 2 hour examination
Unit 1 offers an introduction into the contextualisation of literature within its time period. Focussing on World War One literature the candidates will examine the different ways in which different authors handle key theme. This unit ties in the poetry of the period, but demands that students are able to draw parallels and make critical comparisons across genres, genders and time. As well as the 'core' poetry text, candidates study a dramatic text and a novel.
In a 2 hour exam, two equally weighted questions. The first question asks candidates to respond to an unprepared extract, analysing it in the light of their wider reading. The second question asks candidates to write a short essay, responding to a given viewpoint of the 'core' poetry text with a balanced argument. It is always advisable in examinations that students spend some time planning their answer and allow themselves time for re-reading their response at the end of the exam. Approximately 45 minutes should be given to writing the response to each question: this averages at 1 mark per minute.
Unit 2 - Creative Study: World War One Literature
Assessment: coursework portfolio (2 essays - approx. 1000-1250 words each).
Following the contextualisation theme, candidates study one novel and one drama text, written of the same period, in depth. Candidates will be assessed on two pieces of work, forming their coursework portfolio. Candidates will be asked to read and offer a creative response to each of the texts. This unit focuses on the candidate’s interpretation, designed to encourage an awareness of the creative aspects of literary criticism.
Both pieces of written work will be allocated 30 marks, giving the coursework portfolio a maximum score of 60 marks. The portfolio will account for 20% of the full A Level.
Unit 3 - Reading for Meaning ('Love Through the Ages')
Assessment: 2½ hour examination
Unit 3 addresses three different (poetry, prose and drama) looking at how the central theme of 'Love Through the Ages' has been handled. As the title suggests, reading will cover a range of periods from 14th century Chaucer to the present. The subject of love is not restricted to romantic love, it will also invite comparison with courtly, platonic and familial love. This will allow candidates to demonstrate their comparative critical skills, examining the contrasts and similarities between a broad range of texts.
As with Unit 1, candidates are required to answer two compulsory questions, but this time in a 150 minute examination. 40 marks are allocated to each answer, so equal attention should be given to either. Four unprepared extracts are contained in the examination paper. The first question demands that candidates compare two of unprepared extracts (of the same genre), providing a close reading and commenting on the ways in which the theme of love is handled. The second question will ask candidates to compare the remaining two extracts and examine the presentation of the theme of love with a contextual awareness founded upon their wider reading.
Unit 4 - Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study
Assessment: extended coursework essay (3000 words)
The final unit of the English Literature A Level gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their critical skills in a piece of extended writing (3000 words). With a focus on one Shakespearean text, candidates are invited to provide a comparative study against two other texts, exploring theme, form, style and possible literary interpretations. This unit requires candidates to demonstrate their research skills, both in contextual terms and in terms of their understanding of critical history and alternative interpretations. Writing an extended piece of analytical criticism is an essential transferrable skill and can be translated to further academic work in any of the humanities. The essay is the culmination of two years' work at A Level and presents candidates with an outlet for all of the skills they have acquired over the course.
A maximum of 70 marks will be given to the extended essay. Candidates' work is scored according to the ways in which it has met the relevant Assessment Objectives determined by the examining board
Unit 1 LITA1
Barker, Pat, Regeneration (Penguin, 2008 )
Curtis, Richard and Elton, Ben, Blackadder Goes Forth (Penguin, 1989)
Gardner, Brian (ed.), Up the Line to Death ? The War Poets 1914-1918 (Methuen, 2007 )
Reilly, Catherine (ed.), Scars Upon My Heart ? Women?s Poetry and Verse of the First World War (Virago, 1981)
Unit 2 LITA2
Faulks, Sebastian, Birdsong (Vintage, 1994)
Sherriff, R.C., Journey's End (Penguin Classics, 2000 )
Unit 3 LITA3
Barnes, Julian, Talking it Over, (Picador, 1991)
Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales, trans. Nigel Coghill (Penguin, 2003 )
Shakespeare, William, Twelfth Night, or, What You Will (ca. 1601)
The syllabus does not prescribe particular texts for wider reading for this unit. Students are encouraged to determine their own private study texts, related to the topics of Love through the Ages.
Because A2 focuses strongly on individual interpretation, the choice of wider reading will not be restricted to a list. It is advisable for students to be familiar with selected sonnets by Shakespeare, for instance, which will be invaluable for the two earlier texts by Chaucer and Shakespeare.
It is also recommended that students read at least one modern novel which handles the theme of love in some way. More specific guidance may be provided in the course literature and, of course, students will benefit from consultation with their allocated tutor.
It is generally recommended that candidates have attained grade C or higher in English Language and Literature at GCSE level. However, as full tutor support is the minimum entry requirements are an ability to read and write in English with fluency.
It is recommended that students spend 4-6 hours working on each tutorial (twelve per unit), although timings may vary. Reading time is not included and will necessarily entail some extra hours of study.
For candidates based outside the UK, it may be possible to sit your examination in your country. Candidates are advised to contact the AQA examination board to determine whether provisions for overseas examinations have been made.
Learning documentation, Online Resources and Tutor support for 2 years.