English Literature, GCE A Level
- September 2019, Full Time
You undertake two examined units, each worth 40% of your final mark and each examined by a 2 ½ hour exam. The first, Drama and Poetry Pre-1900, involves the study of a Shakespeare play and a comparison of some poetry and a play. For Shakespeare, we will study The Tempest, his final solo-authored play, dealing with power, love, magic and forgiveness.
For the comparison task, we’ll do some work on Christina Rossetti, widely regarded as the most significant woman poet in England before the twentieth century. We will consider fifteen of her strange and beautiful poems, including the erotic and deeply enigmatic 'Goblin Market', the only Victorian poem to have been published, with suitably graphic illustrations, in Playboy. We look at these poems alongside John Webster’s macabre tragedy The Duchess of Malfi (1614), a terrifying piece of writing about the consequences for a woman who tries to control her own sexuality, and featuring murder, incestuous desire, severed body parts and a man who believes he’s a wolf.
For the second unit, we will consider the way the immigrant experience has been represented in prose fiction, focusing on Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a disturbing and provocative post 9/11 thriller, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, a family saga, looking at the effect of immigration on two generations of an Indian family transplanted to America.
You also undertake a coursework unit (worth 20% of your final mark) for which you write two essays on literature post-1900. The first is a small-scale piece focusing on close analysis of a short text; the second is longer, involving textual comparison and work on context. We try to give you some freedom here to choose material for yourself; recently students have written about the poetry of Philip Larkin, plays by Jez Butterworth, David Hare and Stephen Beresford, and prose fiction by Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson.
3 A Level Programme
Minimum of 2 6/B grades and 3 4/C grades at GCSE. Vocational subjects cannot replace GCSEs for entry to an A Level programme.
You must also study English Language and/or Maths GCSE if you have not already achieved a minimum of grade 4/C in these subjects.
4 A Level / A+ Programme
This programme is only available to students who achieve a minimum of 3 GCSEs at grade 8/A* plus 5 at grade 7/A and a minimum of grade 4/C in English Language and Maths.
You will sit two exams, both 2.5 hours in length and each worth 40% of your overall mark. Your coursework folder makes up the other 20%.
“English Literature is a great subject for anyone who loves fascinating debates, texts that explore social issues, and, most of all, teaching that is both supportive but also pushes you to reach your full potential.”Archie - A Level student (2019)
“My favourite lesson, I love it! I've been both supported and challenge during my time at the College.”Eloise - Graduated Christchurch College, Oxford in 2017 with a first class degree in English Literature.
“This has to be one of my favourite courses, not only because of the wonderfully diverse and intriguing texts we study, but also because of our engaging class discussions, and how necessary the skills taught in English Literature are for other subjects as well.”Florrie - A Level student 2017, now at Christchurch College, Oxford, reading English.
This subject is an excellent grounding for undergraduate study and is seen as a strong component of any university or job application. Former students are now working as journalists, actors, teachers, speech-therapists, university academics, police officers and in IT, PR and retail or undertaking further study.
If you are a UK or home fee status student and aged 16-18 on the 31st August before the start of your course, tuition fees are free. If you are aged 19 and over please contact the Advice Shop.