What is the course about?
The AS course explores English Literature through the genre focus of Tragedy, allowing students to compare the ways in which a range of writers’ work can be analysed in these terms. Aristotelian definitions of Tragedy will be the starting point, before tracing the way that this genre has evolved and changed over time. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills of interpretation and argument, analysing the way meaning is influenced by language, form and structure, in addition to considering how cultural context can support different readings of literature. The entire AS qualification is assessed through two examinations.

Students choosing to continue the subject through to the full A Level will explore further ways of reading literature, including feminist, Marxist and post-colonial perspectives. They will also demonstrate their independent reading through a coursework assignment and consider the way in which social protest has inspired writers over time.

Exam board: AQA English Literature B

Duration of course: One year for AS Level, leading to a second year for those that want to take the full A Level qualification.

What units/topics will be studied?
Component 1: Literary Genres: Drama
Shakespeare’s Othello
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Component 2: Literary Genres: Prose & Poetry
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Selected poetry of John Keats

What can I do to prepare myself to study this subject?
Students would best prepare themselves by reading the set texts. A sensible place to start would be The Great Gatsby. Study of the two drama texts would also be well supplemented by watching a good version of the plays: ideally as a live theatre performance or using a film adaptation.

Where can this lead me?
Students studying AS and A Level English Literature do so in order to serve a variety of academic and career directions. Many choose it in order to study an English degree at university, with a view to accessing careers in journalism, teaching or any occupation that requires strong skills of analysis and communication. Other students take English Literature because it is highly respected by universities and therefore works well alongside subject combinations for highly competitive courses, such as medicine.

Entry Requirements


C/5  – English Language,

C/5  – English Literature

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