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English Literature

English Literature

What is it about at sixth-form level?

Primarily, the study of English Literature at A Level can offer you a rich and very rewarding reading experience. You will have the opportunity to study all three major literary forms: prose, poetry and drama, and to read a range of texts, from the ‘classics’ to more modern texts written in the 21st century. You will be encouraged to read widely, to learn about the contexts in which the texts were written and to consider how those texts have been received by different readers over time.

Studying literature is not a factual process designed to find the ‘truth’. There are many different ways in which texts can be interpreted and you will be able to discuss and develop your own ideas, informed by the views of others. English Literature is for those who love to read and re-read, to unpick layers of meaning and who enjoy discussion and debate.

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Lower sixth
Upper sixth

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

English Literature will introduce you to new authors and reading experiences and help you to become a more confident, autonomous reader. It will develop your thinking skills, powers of analysis and creativity. You will also become a more fluent user of the language with a wider vocabulary and an ability to write accurately and coherently in order to argue a point of view. In addition, you will acquire a deeper understanding of historical, social and cultural developments through your study of literature. In discussion and in writing, you will develop more confidence in your own judgements.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

For UK based students, a good GCSE grade in English language or Literature is needed. This should be 6 or higher. For international students, an in-house diagnostic will be required for entry into the course. An overall grade 6 will be the criteria for entry. You should be aware that the course requires a lot of reading, both in class and independently. Most of the assessment is based on the ability to write good essays.

How is the course assessed?

A level

The A Level is assessed by two written exams and one non-exam assessment: Paper 1 is divided into three sections with two questions on Shakespeare and one essay question linking two other texts. To test your knowledge and understanding of social and political protest writing, Paper 2 requires a response to an unseen passage and two essays. For the non-exam assessment, you will produce two responses of 1,250 – 1,500 words, each relating to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the critical anthology.

Core Texts and Suggested Reading

To be confirmed at the start of the course

Lower-sixth Genre

The Songs of Innocence and Experience
By William Blake
Henry IV Part 1 By W. Shakespeare
The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
Beginning Theory By Peter Barry

Upper-sixth Genre

Othello By W. Shakespeare
Death of a Salesman By A. Miller
Richard II By W. Shakespeare / Tess of the
’U By Thomas Hardy

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: AQA B 7717

"I have really enjoyed my time èAV and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."


Grades achieved at èAV: A*AA Progressed to: Exeter University (International Relations)

"The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of èAV were fully met."


Grades achieved at èAV: AAB Progressed to: Southampton University (Business Innovation)

"I have definitely made the right decision to come to èAV - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at èAV is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice."


Grades achieved at èAV: AAA Progressed to: Warwick University (Chemistry)

"As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at èAV proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at èAV I can emphatically say that going to èAV was the best decision I ever made."


Grades achieved at èAV: AAA Progressed to: Nottingham University (Philosophy)

"Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful."


Grades achieved at èAV: A*AA Progressed to: University of York (Law)

"Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined èAV that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one."


Grades achieved at èAV: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Economics)

"International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but èAV surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most èAV Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college."


Grades achieved at èAV: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

"The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do."


Grades achieved at èAV: A*AABB Progressed to: King's College London (International Relations)

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