English Lit (A Level)


Introduction to course

The variety of texts studied and the assessment styles used (passage-based questions, unseen material, single-text questions, multiple-text questions, open- and closed-book approaches) allow students to develop a wide range of skills, such as the ability to read critically, analyse, evaluate and undertake independent research which are valuable for both further study and future employment.

Exam board/specification

AQA Specification A

Entry Requirements

  • Grade 6 in GCSE English Literature
  • Grade 5 in English Language


  • Paper 1 – Love Through the Ages: Poetry, Prose and Shakespeare
  • Paper 2 – Texts in Shared Contexts: WWl and its aftermath
  • Coursework – Independent Critical Study: Texts Across Time


Paper 1: 3 hours (40%). Open book in Sec. C only

  • Sec. A: Shakespeare One passage-based question with linked essay (25 marks)
  • Sec. B: Unseen poetry Compulsory essay question on two unseen poems (25 marks)
  • Sec. C: Comparing texts One essay question linking two texts (25 marks)

Paper 2: 2 hours 30 minutes (40%). Open book.

  • Sec. A: Set texts One essay question on set text (25 marks)
  • Sec. B: Contextual linking One question on an unseen extract (25 marks) and one essay question linking two texts (25 marks)

Coursework (20%)

  • One extended essay comparing two texts, at least one of which must have been written pre-1900. (2,500 words) and a bibliography

Progression Routes

English literature is one of the most vibrant and popular subjects to study at A Level. It is highly valued by universities and employers as a traditional academic subject of high status. It can lead to a career in journalism, teaching, law, business, publishing, script writing, communications, advertising and many others.