GCSE English Literature

GCSE English Literature

English Literature involves discussion and exploration of the key themes in all literature: love, relationships, conflict and power.
Students need to be open minded and willing to hear and discuss the opinions of their peers in order to understand the way texts can be interpreted.
The course covers a variety and range of modern and historical prose, poetry and drama texts from Shakespeare and Charles Dickens to Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker, with many more along the way.
Students will need to understand the way a writer is influenced by what is happening around them; therefore a willingness to ‘read around’ texts is essential.
Students will develop their skills of thinking critically, reading and analysing texts closely and structuring responses. Studying Literature can be challenging but it is also immensely rewarding. Skills acquired and developed in this subject are useful for future studies in A-level Literature, Language and Literature, Psychology, Law and History.

Course Content

The specification we follow is AQA English Literature. This can be undertaken as a one or two-year course depending on the type of course being taken.

There are two sections to this course: Shakespeare and a 19th century novel; Modern Text (drama or prose) and Poetry.

Shakespeare and 19th century novel: Students read and study a whole play which will be chosen by their teacher: The Tempest, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar or Much Ado About Nothing. They also need to read and study a novel: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, The Sign of Four.

Modern Text and Poetry: Students read a drama text and a prose text. Drama texts include: An Inspector Calls, Blood Brothers, The History Boys, DNA, The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night Time, A Taste of Honey. Prose texts: Lord of The Flies, Telling Tales, Animal Farm, Never Let Me Go, Anita and Me, Pigeon English. Poetry: There are two clusters of 15 poems that were produced from 1789 to the present day. The clusters have a theme: love and relationships or power and conflict.

Alternative study: GCSE English Language and A-level English Literature


Paper 1: Shakespeare and 19th century novel

Section A Students answer one question on the play they have studied. They are given an extract that they will write in detail about and then develop their response to incorporate the whole of the play. Section B Students answer a question on the novel they have studied. They will write in detail about an extract they are given and then expand and write about the novel as a whole.

Paper 1: Lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes: forms 40% of GCSE mark

Paper 2: Modern Text and Poetry

Section A Students choose one of two questions on the drama or prose they have studied. Section B One comparative question on a named poem (from the cluster studied) that allows the students to choose a second poem (from the cluster studied) to compare and contrast. Section C One question on an unseen poem plus a second question that includes a second unseen poem which students will need to compare and contrast.

Paper 2: Lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes: forms 60% of GCSE mark

Where does it lead?

This subject is very versatile and develops skills that are relevant in a number of different careers or Higher Education courses. They include: interpretive abilities, communication, an understanding of how language works, close analysis, and the ability to construct a well-argued case.

As well as an English Literature degree, students of Literature might go on to study for university degrees in a range of subjects including: History, Sociology, Psychology, Drama, Theatre Studies and Law.

Literature is a subject that can support careers in the above areas as well as teaching, business and finance, journalism, publishing and politics. Employers tend to regard English Literature as an ideal topic of study and one that develops essential and transferable skills.