A-Level English Literature


Entry requirements

  • Six GCSEs 9-4, two from English, Maths OR Science
  • Two at least grade 6

Specific requirements for English Literature:

  • At least a grade 5 in both English Language and English Literature GCSE is highly recommended

What is English Literature?

A Level English Literature is for students who enjoy reading and discussing novels, poetry and plays. You will study texts from across a wide time period and in many different genres, from Chaucer to the modern day.


Component 1: (30% of a level)

Poetry Section A: Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale
Poetry Section B: The poetry of Philip Larkin and Carol Ann Duffy

Component 2: (30% of a level)

  • Drama Section A: Shakespeare.
    Drama Section B: A Streetcar Named Desire and The Duchess of Malfi

Component 3: (20% of a level)

  • Unseen Prose and Poetry

Component 4: (20% of a level)

  • Coursework on pre and post 2000 novels.


You will develop your analytical skills via class discussions, presentations and essay writing. You will develop a close eye for selecting detailed evidence and producing a well-informed argument.



The world is your oyster! Anything from teaching, the creative arts, marketing, journalism, science, writing and many more.

English literature

What is the difference between A level English Language and A level English Literature?

The two courses are entirely different. In Literature, students will study a range of genres – novels, poetry and drama – and will also be required to analyse unseen texts. In Language, students will study a wider range of texts – both fiction and non-fiction. They will also study spoken language in action – for example how children acquire language, political discourse and everyday conversations.

What are the topics you study on the English Language A level?

There are a variety of topics covered on the A level including, Language and Power, Child Language Acquisition, Standard and Non-Standard English and Language and Gender. We study texts from Early Modern English (1600-1800) up to English in the 21st Century mainly focusing on language use and changes that have occurred post-2000. For the coursework component, students may choose an area of the course in which they want to specialise for their investigation.

What does the combined A level in Language and Literature entail?

You study literature: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams), The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) and The Whitsun Weddings (Philip Larkin) Also An anthology of non-fiction texts which includes newspaper articles and opinion columns, famous speeches, and transcripts of TV interviews e.g. there is one with former President Obama. Coursework: you will write a piece of fiction and non-fiction e.g. a dystopian short story and an article on a subject of your choice.

What are the set texts for A level English Literature?

Drama: A Streetcar Named Desire, (Tennessee Williams) The Duchess of Malfi (John Webster) and either King Lear or The Tempest (Shakespeare)
Poetry: The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin, and Meantime by Carol Ann Duffy and The Merchant’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer Coursework is a comparative essay on two novels. This year they are A Room with a View and either The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid) or Girl Meets Boy (Ali Smith)

How are the 3 A levels assessed?

Both Literature and Language have 3 exams at the end of the 2- year courses. They are worth a total of 80% of the marks. Each A level also has a coursework component worth 20% of the course.

Is there coursework for the English A Levels?

Yes, each A Level has a coursework component, which is introduced in the first year.

Does the combined A level count as 1 subject?

Yes. It would be 1 of the 3 subjects you would choose to study at Loreto.

Are English A levels well-regarded by universities?

Yes! All three A levels help students to develop their spoken and written communication skills. They involve analysis, research and independence. These are essential preparation for undergraduate study and they also combine well with a whole variety of other subjects.

I want to be a journalist. Which English A level would be best for me?

Any of the English A levels will give you the confidence in written and spoken expression and a wide cultural knowledge.

I want to be a lawyer. Which English A level should I choose?

English Literature is typically regarded as the best option here

I really like creative writing. Which of the 3 A levels should I choose?

There are opportunities for creative writing in both English Language and the combined A level throughout the two years. Even if you do not choose to study English you can opt into a creative writing enrichment class which is one period a week and completed alongside your other subjects. Check out our Manchester Muse blog for some examples of the work that these students have produced.