English Literature

Exam board: AQA English Literature Specification B.

Method of Assessment

Paper 1: Literary Genres: Aspects of Tragedy 2.5 hours closed book (40% of A Level)

Paper 2: Texts and Genres: Elements of political and social protest writing 3 hours open book (40% of A Level)

NEA: Theory and Independence (20% of A Level)

Course Content

Genre study is at the heart of English Literature B and the four broad genres available for study are tragedy, comedy, crime writing and political and social protest writing. Just as meanings of texts are not fixed, neither are definitions of genre, which frequently change and become blurred. The texts offered, therefore, are not necessarily classic examples of established genres and this is reflected in the modifying words ‘aspects of’ and ‘elements of’. Indeed, the specification takes into account the fact that writers often subvert the genre in which they are writing.

Working with genre involves looking at ways in which authors shape meanings within their texts. It also involves thinking about a wide range of relevant contexts, some of them to do with the production of the text at the time of its writing, some (where possible) to do with how the text has been received over time and, most of all in this specification, contexts to do with how the text can be interpreted by readers now. Looking at texts as generic works involves connecting individual texts with others, as the whole idea of genre is a connective one. And finally, because genres and their qualities are not fixed, this means that interpretation is not fixed, and that multiple interpretations are possible.

Future Opportunities

English Literature is recognised as a rigorous academic subject. The ability to communicate articulately, analyse closely and research independently are taught, honed and perfected throughout the course. These skills are greatly desired by employers. The course will ensure that you are well prepared to study English Literature at degree level and, subsequently, English graduates are qualified to enter a range of careers: teaching, writing, advertising, publishing, journalism and many more. English Literature is also viewed positively by many other essay-based degree courses, should you decide not to pursue the subject. The course is designed to make you a critical, informed and assured surveyor of literature and will certainly ready you for further Literature studies.

Specific entry requirements

Students will need to have achieved a Grade 6 in English Literature GCSE.


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