English Literature

Course Title Advanced GCE in English Literature Specification B

Examination Board AQA

Subject Code A Level Award 7717

Course Content

Unit 1: Literary Genres 

The aim of this unit is to introduce candidates to aspects of the genre of tragedy. Texts have been selected and grouped together to enable students to understand the roots of literary genre as well as how the genre has developed. Students study three texts: Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ and a selection of the poetry of Keats.

Unit 2: Texts and Genres 

This unit introduces candidates to the more modern genre of crime writing and texts wherein a transgressive act is the driving narrative force. This genre, which is heavily influenced by culture and society, is continually evolving and allows students to analyse and interpret more modern texts. Students study a broad range of transgressive fictions to deepen their appreciation of genre nuances, as well as three set texts: one post-2000 prose text (Kate Atkinson’s ‘When Will There Be Good News’), Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’.

Unit 3: Theory and Independence 

This unit is designed to allow students to read widely and develop their skills as critical, crafted writers of extended essays. Students are guided in the choice of their own academically-challenging texts and coached in the understanding that contemporary study of literature needs to be informed by the fact that different theoretical and critical methods can be applied to the subject. Students write about two different literary texts (one poetry text and one prose) through their choice of critical perspectives such as Marxism, Feminism, Post-Colonialism and Eco-criticism.


Unit 1 Examination in June in Year 13. One closed book exam, lasting two hours and thirty minutes. The paper is in three sections and students answer one question in each section. All three texts will be covered.

40% of A Level.

Unit 2 Examination in June in Year 13. One open book exam, lasting three hours. The paper is in three sections and candidates answer one question from each section. This includes the study of an unseen extract.  All three texts will be covered.

40% of total A level.

Unit 3 Non-exam assessment in June in Year 13. Minimum of two texts for study linking to an aspect of the Critical Anthology. A portfolio of two written essays (one may be re-creative).

20% of A level.

Future Progression

This particular English qualification is recognised by top universities as a highly facilitating subject with a competitive and transferable skill set relevant to the study of degree-level Law, History, Politics, Languages, Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, Classics, Education, Linguistics, English Literature, and any other subject wherein the ability to argue critically, evaluate with discernment and critique the written word hold merit. Courses typically require a minimum of AAA or AAB for access to most degrees. As the ability to read extensively and develop independent study skills is so fundamental to many university degrees, achievement in this A Level can provide a sound basis for most courses and a wide range of careers, with common career paths taking English Literature students into lucrative and enriching careers in law, journalism, publishing, advertising, education, and media.

To succeed in English Literature

You will:

  •  Have a genuine interest in English Literature beyond your set texts
  •  Be a keen reader, capable of independently completing reading tasks to deadlines
  •  Be ready and willing to accept challenges and be open to feedback to improve yourself as a critical writer
  •  Be prepared to work independently, analyse in detail and produce work that is thoughtful, critical and astute
  •  Be working at a Grade 6 or above in your GCSE in English Literature and English Language.