English Literature

Subject Intent: Why English Literature?

The English Literature curriculum acts as a gateway for helping students to engage with world issues, debate related concepts and to appreciate how different audiences can react to the same material. This helps to prepare students for successfully navigating their way through contemporary society. It enables students to develop a better understanding of the world we live in through the eyes of a wide range of authors, their characters and the contexts within which they write. Understanding of the impact of history, society and culture on literary texts is integral to the course.

The studying of texts will also provide students with a sustained and deep understanding of English Literature as a tradition and how it has changed over time, through the exploration of pre-1900 texts, including Shakespeare’s Othello and one post-2000 text. The texts studied encompass drama, prose and poetry. Overall, English Literature provides students with the opportunity to explore current topics, widens their understanding of the world in which they live and provides opportunities to further develop cultural capital.

What will I study?

You will engage critically and creatively with a substantial body of texts and ways of responding to them, including:

  • Othello by William Shakespeare.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
  • An anthology of modern poetry to compare with unseen poetry.
  • A collection of poems by John Keats.

The course is assessed through the combination of three exam papers and coursework. The coursework requires you to write an extended essay of around 2500 words comparing two literary texts of your own choosing. This is worth 20% of the qualification.

English Literature

Please note: Subject videos have been filmed from colleges across our Trust.

What are lessons like in this subject?

You always know when English Literature lessons are happening because our classrooms are filled with enthusiasm and passion for the written word.

Students who choose this subject can expect to be encouraged to share their love for literature by exploring a wide range of texts, including prose, poetry and drama. You will engage in spirited discussions, reflecting on a wide range of different perspectives and write thoughtful essays about the writer’s craft, commenting on how ideas can be shaped by the contexts in which they are written.

Amongst the many enrichment opportunities that we offer, you can join a book club, attend subject specialist seminars and benefit from our close links to a range of universities, who are able to offer students an invaluable insight into the options available to them after college.

What our


This course will expand your understanding, not of just the texts, but the changes of the world and finding relativity between authors of eras before and see how they remain relevant now. This course is essential for those who would like to better the world, taking ideas and messages and taking them on for greater things.

Lucas Svyrydenko, The King’s School

APPLY NOW to study in 2024

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