"While at school I had so many opportunities to participate in both the Senior Choir and Chamber Choir, and the Music Department regularly held informal concerts which were fantastic opportunities to perform."

Laurie Ashworth - Prize-Winning Opera Singer

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English Literature


To explore individual works of literature, relationships between texts and significant cultural and contextual influences.
To develop analytical skills through both writing and discussion.
To be aware of the relationship between Literature and other academic disciplines.
To produce informed, independent opinions and judgements.

What will I study?

It is expected that girls taking this subject will do a two year course, without the option of AS at the end of the Lower Sixth.

You will study poetry, prose and drama texts from a range of periods.  You will explore the connections between them and the social and cultural contexts within which they were written. You will analyse the ways in which writers use literary and linguistic devices to shape meaning in both studied texts and unseen extracts. 

How will I be assessed?

At A Level there are two examined components and one coursework component.  The first, ‘Drama and Poetry Pre-1900’, offers candidates the opportunity to engage in close reading and consider Shakespeare’s use of language. The second, ‘Comparative and Contextual Study’, will consist of an unseen exercise and a comparative essay. Topics include: American Literature 1880-1940, The Gothic, Dystopia, Women in Literature and The Immigrant Experience. The coursework component requires candidates to study three texts from across the genres of poetry, drama and prose.

Desirable requirements

You should have a keen interest in how writers of different genres and from different periods use language. You should be interested in how society and culture influence works of literature. You should be able to work independently and as part of a group offering your own interpretations of texts. You should enjoy writing analytical essays and be able to write fluently. You should read widely.

How will I study?

You will work in pairs, groups and independently studying set texts, unseen extracts and your own text choices. You will take an active part in whole class discussion. You will attend lectures and take part in enrichment activities such as theatre trips. You will profit most from the course if you have the diligence necessary to pursue the wider reading that comes with studying English Literature at this level. 

Where will it lead?

It combines so well with other Advanced Level subjects: the Languages, Sciences, Arts and Humanities.  It opens doors to a wide range of careers for those who are considering Teaching, Management, Personnel, Journalism, Law, PR and writing.


“I am currently studying English Literature, Psychology, History and Philosophy & Ethics. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Sixth Form experience, as it has allowed me the opportunity to choose subjects I was passionate about at GCSE and to develop my interest at a higher level. English Literature is my favourite subject, as I have found it interesting to analyse a diverse variety of texts that contain a spectrum of techniques relating to theme, character and context. Personally, my favourite aspect of English Literature this year was studying 'The Tempest' while linking the Shakespearean linguistic devices to contextual information and performance history from a variety of media.  I found it an interesting step-up from the GCSE to the A Level course, allowing for a wider understanding of a text. I feel that studying English Literature has been beneficial in that it has helped me to develop the communication and analytical skills required to perform to the best of my ability on a higher education course such as Law.”