English Literature

A Level English Literature will encourage your wide reading, and develop your written expression and your analytical skills. You will be introduced to a wide range of contemporary and pre-21st century texts – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama – making links between the texts and the period and culture in which they were written. The course is suitable for you if you enjoy reading and discussing novels, plays and poetry, are interested in human relationships and feelings, and in society.

CCSS English class

Course Overview

You will be taught in a small group, typically four to eight students, and you will be encouraged to develop personal and imaginative responses to literature. The learning methods on this course are varied and include group discussions, working in pairs and giving short presentations. You will be taught the essential skills of close reading, note-taking and essay writing. As well as learning in the classroom, you will have private study time completing reading and writing assessments.

You will benefit from very experienced teachers, teaching students to the highest level of achievement.

Unit Guide


You will study one pre-1900 poetry text and two poetry texts written post-1900. The current texts for examination are:

  • Selected poems – Carol Ann Duffy
  • The Whitsun Weddings – Philip Larkin
  • The Merchant’s Tale – Geoffrey Chaucer

Assessment for this component is by a two-hour written examination. The examination mark is worth 30% of the total A Level mark.


You will study three plays – one Shakespeare play, one pre-1900 play and one post-1900 play. The current texts for examination are:

  • A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee William
  • The Duchess of Malfi – John Webster
  • The Tempest – William Shakespeare

Assessment for this component is by a two-hour written examination. The examination mark is worth 30% of the total A Level mark.

Unseen Texts

This component will give you the opportunity to apply your skills of literary analysis to the examination of unseen poetry and prose texts. Assessment for this component is by a two hour written examination. The examination mark is worth 20% of the total A Level mark.

Prose Study

You will study two prose texts from different periods, one text to be of your own choice. Assessment for this component is by a 2500-3000 word coursework assignment and is worth 20% of the total A Level mark.

Special Features

The course is complemented by extra-curricular activities which include theatre trips, films, conferences and poetry readings. Cambridge offers a wealth of theatres, cinemas, bookshops, music venues and museums, and we will encourage and direct you towards those which will provoke your curiosity, support your studies and widen your horizons.


A Level English Literature is highly regarded by top UK universities and is included in the ‘facilitating’ group of A Levels for university admission, recognising that the skills you develop in close reading and analysis and in effective writing will underpin undergraduate courses and career paths from teaching and journalism to law and medicine.

Last year, A Level English Literature students progressed onto a wide range of degree programmes including –

University Degree
Edinburgh University English Literature and Classics
Leeds University English Literature
University of Kent English & American Literature
Leicester University History
University of York Politics

Exam Board


Subject options

Hover over a course title for more information

Call us - +44 (0) 1223 716890

Contact us

Contact us

on: +44 (0) 1223 716890

Email us at: [email protected]

Write to us at:
4-5 Bene’t Place
Lensfield Road
United Kingdom

Book a visit

Book a visit

Find out more about our regular open events, or use the form to the right and we’ll contact you to discuss a visit:

Open events and visits