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A LEVELS English Literature

Exam Board: Pearson Edexcel

A-level English Literature offers a diverse curriculum encompassing modern and historical Prose, Poetry, and Drama texts, including renowned authors like Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Andrea Levy, and John Betjeman. The selection of texts varies yearly, combining choices made by the exam board and EMC to ensure a comprehensive exploration of literature. While specific texts are prescribed, students are encouraged to pursue their own literary interests and engage in independent reading.


Critical thinking and analytical skills are central to the study of English Literature. Students learn to discern the author's use of language and context, allowing them to interpret and analyse texts effectively. Expressing personal emotional responses to literature is essential, both in classroom discussions and written assignments, fostering the ability to construct well-reasoned arguments and engage in constructive debate.


English Literature encourages an open-minded approach, as there are no definitive "right" or "wrong" answers in literary analysis. The course fosters a love for reading, writing, and the exchange of ideas. It equips students with transferable skills such as interpretation, effective communication, language comprehension, critical analysis, and persuasive argumentation. These skills are highly valuable in various careers, including Teaching, Business and Finance, Journalism, Publishing, and Politics, as well as facilitating further studies in fields like History, Sociology, Psychology, Drama and Theatre Studies, and Law. A-level English Literature is esteemed for its academic rigour and its ability to develop well-rounded individuals capable of engaging with and understanding the complexities of literary works.


The qualification requires pupils to study eight literary texts. Three of these have to be pre-1900 texts (including one Shakespeare play), plus one text first published or performed post-2000. Outlook at the chart below:




Component 1 Drama

Component 2 Prose

Component 3 Poetry

Non-examination assessment

1 Shakespeare

3 Pre-1900

prose fiction

5 Post-2000

specified poetry

7 Chosen text

2 Other drama play*

4 Prose fiction*

6 Specified poetry (pre or post-1900)

8 Chosen text

* These represent where students can study a third pre-1900 text in the examined components. 

Please note that texts change from year to year.

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