This is a linear course requiring the study of eight texts plus unseen poetry. There are three externally examined components, and one coursework unit all at the end of Year 13. Texts will be studied and revisited over the two year course but it is essential that you are prepared to read and re-read texts in your own time if you wish to study Literature at A Level. The coursework is worth 20% of the total qualification and involves the study of two texts in order to produce a comparative essay of 2,500-3,000 words.

Unit 1: The focus of this unit is Drama. For this unit, you will study one Shakespeare play and one other drama text from the genre of tragedy. You will also be required to study some of a Critical Anthology and other essays relating to your Shakespeare text. This will help you to consider how texts can be read from different perspectives. This unit is worth 30% of the total qualification.

Unit 2: Prose is the focus of component two. Two prose texts are studied from a chosen theme; one of the texts will have been written pre-1900. You will be asked to write one comparative essay from a choice of two questions. This unit is worth 20% of the qualification.

Unit 3: This unit on Poetry involves the study of a range of prescribed poetry either by a named poet or from a specific literary period. You will also be prepared for responding to unseen poetry in the examination.


There are three examinations taken at the end of the two year course, two two hour papers and one lasting an hour. Coursework accounts for 20% of the total qualification. The examinations are open book meaning that clean copies of the texts may be taken into the examination.

What Next?

  • Often combines surprisingly well with A Level Maths, as both use analytical skills
  • Skills crossover with A Level History, including essay writing and using evidence
  • Teaching English, both here and abroad
  • Careers in law, publishing, academia
  • Useful for courses such as engineering, where written and spoken communication skills are essential

English Literature Subject Leader: Mrs Lisa Herbertson

Syllabus: Edexcel

Course Specification: 9ETO

Qualification: A Level

English literature explores a variety of texts and theories that open the mind and will develop skills useful in all aspects of your future.

– Current Year 13 Literature Student