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English Language and Literature

Why English Language and Literature?

This exciting course presents opportunities for reading widely and making creative, informed responses to each of the major literary genres: poetry, prose, drama and a range of non-literary texts. It will enable you to continue to study through a combination of reading and writing. It will encourage you to analyse how writers use language to create effect and to use these language skills to write for different audiences and purposes. In order to achieve this you will:

  • Read and comment on a wide range of media and non-fiction texts
  • Study a particular genre of literature for coursework
  • Analyse language in depth using a range of technical terminology
  • Write creatively and transform a text into a new genre

Through these activities you will become an independent thinker, able to support and defend your opinions.

Summary of content

This specification is designed to promote the integrated study of English language and English literature. It enables learners to develop intellectual maturity through exploring a range of literary and non-literary texts, including the WJEC English Language and Literature Poetry Pre-1914 Anthology. Through their reading, learners are able to develop the skills required to interrogate texts, be critically reflective, consider other viewpoints, be independent, make connections across a range of texts and to understand and evaluate the effects of a variety of contexts. This specification also gives learners opportunities to deepen their enjoyment of English language and literature both through reading and through creating their own texts.

This specification requires learners to show knowledge and understanding of a range of spoken and written texts from different times including six substantial texts drawn from pre-1914 poetry, Shakespeare, prose, modern drama, and non-literary texts. At AS three texts are studied, and at A level a further three texts. As this specification is designed for learners in Wales, text choices include texts by Welsh writers writing in English.


AS - Unit 1 - Comparative Analysis and Creative Writing (closed-book)

Written examination: 2 hours

This is a closed-book examination. Candidates are not permitted to take copies of the anthology into the examination.

Section A: Comparative analysis of poetry and unseen text

Section A is based on the study of a selection of poems taken from the WJEC English Language and Literature Pre-1914 Poetry Anthology. The anthology covers a range of poetry from the late-sixteenth century to 1914. It is designed to introduce learners to the historical development of the English language, the rich heritage of writing poetry, as well as illustrating the variation in poetic content and style over time. The full list of texts can be found at appendix C in the full specification.

Section B: Creative writing and commentary

Candidates are required to answer the compulsory question. The question will be presented in three parts: two writing tasks and a commentary.

Creative writing

This unit is designed to engage candidates in the creative process, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and accuracy for writing in a variety of forms and for a range of purposes.


Candidates are required to write a comparative commentary on the two texts they have produced.

AS - Unit 2 - Drama and Non-literary Text Study (open-book, clean copy)

Written examination: 2 hours

Clean copies (no annotation) of the prescribed editions of the texts studied for this unit must be taken into the examination. This unit is designed to introduce learners to both drama and non-literary texts.

Section A: Post-1900 drama

Section A is based on the study of one post-1900 drama text from the list below:

  • Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • Peter Shaffer: Amadeus (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard: Shakespeare in Love (Faber)
  • Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Vintage Classics)
  • Diane Samuels: Kindertransport (Nick Hern Books)

Section B: Non-literary text study

Section B is based on the study of one non-literary prose text from the list below:

  • Truman Capote: In Cold Blood (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • David Eggers: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Picador)
  • Robert Minhinnick: Watching The Fire-Eater (Seren)
  • George Orwell: Down and Out in Paris and London (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • Andrea Ashworth: Once in a House on Fire (Picador)

A2 - Unit 3 - Shakespeare (closed-book)

Written examination: 2 hours

This is a closed-book examination. Candidates are not permitted to take copies of the texts into the examination. This unit is designed to introduce learners to the work of Shakespeare. For the purpose of the examination, the Collins Alexander Complete Works of William Shakespeare will be used for extract-based questions. Candidates must study one Shakespeare play selected from the list below:

  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • King Lear
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Othello
  • The Tempest

A2 - Unit 4 - Unseen Texts and Prose Study (open-book)

Written examination: 2 hours

A clean copy (no annotation) of the text studied for Section B must be taken into the examination. This unit encourages learners to develop their ability to read widely and engage critically with a range of texts whilst developing further learners’ techniques of analysis and evaluation.

Section A: Comparative analysis of unseen text

Candidates will be required to compare and contrast the three texts, using knowledge and skills gained from the integrated study of language and literature.

Section B: Prose study (open-book, clean copy)

In preparation for this question, candidates are required to study one prose text from the prescribed list below.

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage)

Jane Austen: Emma (Penguin Classics)

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations (Penguin Classics)

Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Penguin Classics)

Alice Walker: The Color Purple (W&N)

A2 - Unit 5 - Critical and Creative Genre Study

Non-exam assessment: 2500-3500 word folder

Section A: Genre study

Learners are required to submit a 1500-2000 word study based on the reading of a prose text (selected from a prescribed list) and related wider reading from one of the following literary/non-literary prose genres:

Gothic, science fiction, romance, dystopia, crime, satire/comedy, historical fiction, war/conflict, adventure/journeys, life-writing, journalism, travel, identity/the outsider [see appendix A in the full specification for a list of titles]

Section B: Related creative writing

Learners will produce one piece of original writing of approximately 1000-1500 words. This piece of writing must be in the same genre as that studied in Section A and must be informed by the research and study completed for Section A.

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