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English Literature

Why English Literature?

This course aims to use a variety of activities to help you to engage with texts and to consider how they work. You will be encouraged to become an independent thinker, able to support and defend your opinions.

Summary of content

This specification is based on a conviction that the study of literature should encourage enjoyment of literary studies based on an informed personal response to a range of texts. It provides learners with an introduction to the discipline of advanced literary studies and presents opportunities for reading widely and for making creative and informed responses to each of the major literary genres of poetry, prose and drama.

As learners progress through the two year course, their studies will be extended in breadth and depth, developing and enhancing learners’ techniques of analysis, evaluation and comparison of literary texts in the context of a wider range of texts of cultural and literary significance. The specification requires learners to show knowledge and understanding of the significance of:

  • the ways in which writers use and adapt language, form and structure in texts
  • the interpretation of texts by different readers, including over time
  • how texts relate to one another and to literary traditions, movements and genres
  • the cultural and contextual influences on readers and writers

English literature is a subject that by its nature requires learners to consider individual, moral, ethical, social, cultural and contemporary issues. The specification provides a framework for exploration of such issues and includes specific content through which individual courses may address these issues.

Units

AS - Unit 1 - Prose and Drama (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.

Section A: Prose fiction pre-1900

  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics)
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (Penguin Classics)
  • Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (Penguin Classics)
  • Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin Classics)

Section B: Drama

  • Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (Longman)
  • Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan (New Mermaids)
  • Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (Penguin)
  • Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (Methuen)
  • Joe Orton, Loot (Methuen)

AS - Unit 2 - Poetry Post-1900 (open-book, clean copy)

Written examination: 2 hours

Clean copies (no annotation) of the prescribed editions of the texts chosen for study must be taken into the examination.

For this unit learners are required to read two paired poetry texts from the list below:

Edward Thomas: Selected Poems (Faber)

(prescribed section: poems listed in Appendix B) &

Alun Lewis: Collected Poems (Seren)

(prescribed section: poems listed in Appendix B)

 

D H Lawrence: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics, edited by James Fenton)

(prescribed sections: Love Poems and Others, Amores, New Poems, Birds,

Beasts and Flowers, Last Poems) &

Gillian Clarke: Making the Beds for the Dead (Carcanet)

 

Ted Hughes: Poems selected by Simon Armitage (Faber)

(prescribed section: all poems up to and including page 68) &

Sylvia Plath: Poems selected by Ted Hughes (Faber)

 

Philip Larkin: The Whitsun Weddings (Faber) &

Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time (Picador)

 

Seamus Heaney: Field Work (Faber)&

Owen Sheers: Skirrid Hill (Seren)

A2 - Unit 3 - Poetry pre-1900 and Unseen Poetry (open-book, clean copy)

Written examination: 2 hours

Clean copies (no annotation) of the prescribed editions of the texts chosen for study must be taken into the examination.

Section A: Poetry pre-1900

Candidates are required to answer one question based on the reading of one poetry text from the list below:

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale (Cambridge)

John Donne: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)

John Milton: Paradise Lost Book IX (Oxford)

John Keats: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)

Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)

Section B: Unseen poetry

This section gives learners the opportunity to synthesise and reflect upon the knowledge they have gained from the course as a whole and to apply their skills of literary analysis to the examination of unseen poetry texts.

Candidates are required to respond to one question. The question will require the candidate to write a comparative analysis of two poems: one compulsory poem or poetry extract and another chosen from a further three poems or poetry extracts.

A2 - Unit 4 - 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.

Candidates must answer one extract-based question from Section A on their chosen set text and one question from a choice of two on the same text in Section B.

Both Section A and Section B are based on the study of one Shakespeare play from the list below:

  • King Lear
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Hamlet
  • Henry IV Part 1
  • The Tempest

As this is a closed-book examination, centres may select any edition of these plays by Shakespeare for study, but it is important to remember that there may be variations between editions. For the purpose of the examination, the Collins Alexander Complete Works of William Shakespeare will be used for extract-based questions.

Section A: Shakespeare extract: candidates are required to answer the set question on their chosen play. This question is based on a printed extract from the play, and it will assess knowledge and understanding and close analysis of the extract.

Section B: Shakespeare essay: candidates are required to answer one essay question from a choice of two on their chosen play. This question will assess wider knowledge and understanding of the play as a whole. 

A2 - Unit 5 - Prose Study

Non-exam assessment: 2500-3500 word assignment

This unit is internally assessed and externally moderated. It requires learners to submit a 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of two prose texts by different authors, one published pre-2000 and the other published post-2000.

This unit is designed to enable learners to pursue wider reading that is of interest to them and to undertake independent and sustained studies of literary texts.

For the purposes of this unit, the term 'prose text' will be taken to include the novel, a collection of short stories, autobiography and memoir, travel writing and essays.

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