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English Literature A Level

Course Information

The English Literature A level course comprises nine modules in total: five at AS level and four at A level. You will learn the principles of literary analysis and apply them to a selection of texts, from the ancient to the modern.

At AS level you will study love poetry through the ages, as well as examining the theme of love in Shakespeare’s Othello and  Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. If you plan to sit the AS level you will also study Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

At A level you will continue to analyse literature in different formats, focusing on a selection of more contemporary texts including Owen Sheers’ poetry collection Skirrid Hill, Michael Frayne’s psychological novel Spies and Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. You will also carry out coursework that will form part of your grade.


English Literature A Level

By studying poetry, drama and novels from several eras you will develop a strong foundation of literary study and criticism in a variety of formats, as well as an understanding of how these formats have evolved over time and why they remain important today.

With the support and feedback of your tutor, you will take regular self-assessment tests to ensure you have understood all the concepts introduced in each module.

The course includes 51 lessons, 17 Tutor-marked assignments and 2 mock exams.

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Examining board and exams

The English Literature A level is designed to prepare you for two AQA specifications:

The AS level course is assessed by two 90-minute written examinations.

The A level is assessed by one three-hour exam, one 2.5-hour exam and one piece of NEA (coursework). The coursework must be completed independently, although you will still get support from your tutor.

In order to do the coursework, you will need to be able to follow the rules for authentication.  They can be found here.

Please note that the AS level is a standalone qualification, meaning marks are no longer carried over toward an A level.


What can I do with an English Literature A level?

English literature has for many years been a critical component of the humanities, examining how writers throughout the ages have documented, celebrated and criticised the world through their work.

As well as developing important skills in analysing text and subtext in literature, you will gain an enhanced understanding of how literature fits into culture as a whole, and how it influences and is influenced by other media.

These skills are important for any creative job – whether you want to be an author, a journalist, a film director or a web designer, a deep appreciation for the power of the written word will help you in a number of ways. It’s also important in public relations, advertising and marketing roles – you’ll use these skills in any job that requires strong and nuanced communication.


An English Literature A level will also be a vital foundation for many Higher Education courses in the arts and humanities. You may wish to pursue English Literature further at university, specialising in a particular era, genre or form. Alternatively, you may decide to use it to broaden the scope of a degree in History, Law, Philosophy or Politics.

If you’re planning to study or learn other languages, an English Literature A level will also help you when it comes to reading and appreciating classic works in their original language. And as a core subject throughout the curriculum, it’s a particularly good qualification for aspiring teachers.

Some examples of the industries you might join with an English Literature qualification include:

  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Performing arts
  • Public relations
  • Journalism
  • Filmmaking
  • Education

My journey with Oxford Open Learning lasted seven years and came to an end last June. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight (and hopefully some maturity), I can say that along with my qualifications, I acquired skills of independence, persistence and self-discipline. More importantly, I gained a love of knowledge, that has extended into my recent gap-year and enriched my blossoming career as a writer, as I look to write and direct my first short film.

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How much does it cost?

Our English Literature A level course fee is £525 with a £105 deposit, payable in eight instalments of £52.50.

You will receive support from a fully-qualified tutor holding either a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or a degree in education. This support includes:

  • Marking all assignments for the course
  • Written answers to specific study problems
  • Tutor contact via telephone, email or skype
  • Marking and moderation of your NEA project

When you begin this course, you will agree an examination date or dates with your Student Adviser. Your support period lasts up to this examination date.

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You are expected to have at least four good GCSEs to study the English Literature A level, which must include a grade C or above in English.

If you have other relevant qualifications or experience which you feel would allow you to start an A level English Literature course, please contact one of our student advisers on 0800 975 75 75.

Due to the stringent NEA requirements, the last application date for this course’s summer 2023 exams is the 30th September 2022

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To do well in ‘A’ level English Literature it is important to read around the subject. The specification requires that you compare the responses of different readers and that you show some understanding of the historical and cultural background of your texts. Each module will give you suggestions for supporting reading which is appropriate to the study of that particular set book.

You will need copies of the following books: