On the combined English Language & Literature course, students will study a range of writing from a variety of genres, including the main literary types: novels, poetry and drama. Students will also study a wide selection of non-fiction texts, ranging from newspaper journalism to autobiographies and travel writing. Texts are studied from both literary and linguistic viewpoints. The language of speech and conversation will also form part of this course and students will examine the way speech is used in everyday life and in literary dialogue.
Overall, the course aims to foster a deeper understanding of how the English language is used in particular contexts and for different purposes and audiences. It is excellent preparation for undergraduate study on a range of English-related courses at university.
English Language & Literature combines well with any subject.
Many students continue with an English or English-related degree at university. Others study Law, History, Sociology and History for example, making excellent use of the linguistic analysis skills acquired from A Level English.
On this course, students will learn how to use an ‘integrated’ analytical approach to spoken and written texts, using both literary and linguistic concepts and terminology.
Basic concepts from a linguistic approach will be taught, enabling students to be more precise in their interpretation of texts. These ‘frameworks’ include:
- Phonology and prosodics (the sound of real speech and the patterns of sound in literature)
- Lexis and semantics (the connotations of word choices and imagery)
- Grammar (the role of specific words, such as pronouns and verbs, in a sentence)
- Pragmatics (how different contexts and situations affect meaning)
Students will study an Anthology of spoken and written texts entitled “Voices in Speech and Writing”, which contains a wide variety of texts, such as newspaper articles and reports; extracts from autobiographies, diaries, travel writing and digital texts (such as ‘blogs’); book and television reviews. Other examples of these types of text will be studied to develop the skills of writing comparatively. A new drama text will be studied in the second year: “Translations” by Brian Friel
Students will study one compulsory prose fiction ‘anchor’ text, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Shakespeare’s “Othello”. This ‘text pairing’ will be following the theme: Society and the Individual.
The coursework component, worth 20%, requires the production of creative writing in response to the study of two stimulus texts. Students will produce fiction and non-fiction creative writing and analyse their language choices in a commentary.
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
English Language & Literature A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course-related experiences. We always try to enrich students’ study of texts with trips to see plays or to hear authors discussing their work. In recent years, these have included:
- A visit to see a production of “Translations” at the National Theatre in London
- A visit to see a production of “The Crucible” at The Old Vic Theatre in London
In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.
All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.
The A Level is assessed by examination and coursework. There are two written examinations of 2 hours 30 minutes, each worth 40% of the final qualification, plus a coursework component worth 20%. The exam board for this A Level is Pearson Edexcel.
All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme.
In addition, students should meet the following minimum GCSE requirement:
- Grade 5 in English Language and English Literature
In addition, technical accuracy in spelling, punctuation and grammar is essential for achieving a good grade at A Level.
Students will succeed on this course if they:
- Enjoy reading and responding to many different kinds of writing, including whole novels and plays
- Are willing to explore in detail, through close textual analysis, how language can affect the reader or listener
- Are prepared to learn the terminology associated with a linguistic approach to English
- Enjoy writing (accurately and fluently) in different forms, for different purposes and audiences
- Enjoy taking part in discussion
- Find language itself interesting; the way it changes and means different things to different people
What is the difference between A Level English Language and Literature and A Level English Literature?
The two courses have a lot in common: reading, exploring, discussing and writing about a range of literary texts. However, on the English Language and Literature course, you will explore, in much more linguistic detail, the ways in which writers use words, clauses and sentences. The texts studied vary as well: on this course, you will look at non-fiction texts (such as memoirs and articles) and spoken texts (such as speeches and interviews). A Level English Language and Literature also has a creative writing unit.
Which course is better if I want to study English at University?
Both English A Level courses provide a good foundation for studying not just English but a range of other degrees at university. Most universities accept either course as a basis for taking a degree in English.
Which texts will I study?
In your first year, you will study an anthology of non-fiction texts. You will also study F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” and Shakespeare’s “Othello”. In your second year, you will study Brian Friel’s play “Translations”.
Do I have to enjoy reading to study this course?
Yes. Successful students enjoy reading and reflecting on a variety of different texts and genres.
Are there opportunities to do my own creative writing?
Yes. For your coursework, you will write a fiction and a non-fiction piece. This will be accompanied by a commentary in which you analyse and explain how your wider reading has influenced you and why you wrote your pieces in the way you did.
Is there any coursework or is it all exams?
You will sit two exams, worth a total of 80%. The coursework unit is worth 20%.