A Level English
English Literature (AQA 7717)
If you love a good debate, being attentive to minutiae yet always with an eye on the global human perspective, you will definitely enjoy studying Literature. Books studied at this level open up a wealth of human experience, giving insights into cultures past and present. If you have enjoyed reading, discussing and writing about your set texts for GCSE English Literature and English Language and are excited by the prospect of spending time with more great texts in a smaller class full of friendly, lively discussion, then you will certainly enjoy this course.
You will become, with practice, an assured, sophisticated writer and a confident, informed reader. Examiners will expect you to be able to write confidently, accurately and with enthusiasm. Your style will be honed through different sorts of tasks set through the year, from class presentations to extended essays. There will be, for the A Level course, the opportunity for you to study texts of your own choice too.
This subject naturally links with Classics, History, Politics, Psychology and RE, and your experience of these subjects will be valuable as you look at each text in detail. A highly regarded subject, English Literature is a solid foundation for many courses at degree level, especially Law. If you seek a cultural and creative oasis as you study three more theoretical subjects, however, English Literature is an excellent choice, respected by University admissions tutors and employers alike.
THE COURSE ITSELF
This course centres on different ways of reading and the connections that exist between texts within a specific literary genre. You will develop a sound understanding of how texts can be connected and how they can be interpreted in multiple ways.
If you choose to take the A Level, you will revisit three of the AS texts in your U6 year. At the end of the year, you will be examined on the texts again. By this stage your skills and understanding will have developed considerably and revision of the work should be even more rewarding.
There are three elements to this course : ‘Literary Genres’ and ‘Texts and Genres’ (which are each assessed by an exam) and a ‘Non-exam assessment (NEA) – Theory and Independence’.
Paper 1 : Aspects of Tragedy. Here there is an exam on three texts. You will be likely to study Othello or King Lear, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Death of a Salesman.
Paper 2 : ‘Elements of Crime Writing’. You will study three texts for this exam. Our current selection is When Will There be Good News? By Kate Atkinson, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Hamlet. One must have been written post-2000 and one pre 1900.
Unit 3 – the NEA. Here you will apply an anthology of different critical views (like Marxism and feminism) to two texts of your own choice or from a number of texts studied in class. One needs to be a poetry text and the other prose. There will be an element of independent study but we will cover several texts in class and help you decide which areas of study suit you best. You will produce two essays of no more than 1500 words each.
The subjects of tragedy and crime will be, no doubt, entertaining, enlightening and moving. There are some great texts here to explore. Come along prepared to talk about your thoughts and ideas; though in many ways this is not a subject that can simply be 'learned' in a traditional sense, your skills of analysis and perception will be sharpened with practice and commitment in class. The best lessons in English Literature are fun, lively, thought-provoking and challenging and it is up to you to help make this happen!
English Language (AQA 7702)
Have you ever wondered why we speak the way we do? Do you wonder why some people say ‘daps’ while others say ‘pumps’ and whether it’s a ‘ginnel’ or a ‘gennel’ and why some play ‘forty forty’ while others play ‘tiggy one two three’ and yet more play ‘one two three dun ya’ but it’s actually the same game? Have you ever wondered how we learn to speak at all? Or why we speak in different ways depending on our circumstances? Do you think males and females use language differently? What evidence do you have for this and is it reliable? Do you think language itself treats males and females differently? Why do words change their meanings and how? Or why do we have the words we do at all? How can we tell we are listening to commentary of a football match rather than a weather forecast? Do you look at leaflets, advertisements and websites and wonder why they are written and presented as they are? Do you enjoy writing creatively in a range of different genres?
If you find any of those questions interesting and think you would enjoy finding out the answers and trying out different forms of writing, then this is the course for you. The content of this excellent A Level course should truly transform the way you think about human interaction. Your understanding of how language is used, and your own ability to communicate effectively in speaking and writing, will be extended and developed.
We aim to answer many of the questions above by engaging with language use in an analytical, almost scientific way, so you will need to grasp new concepts and the terminology with which to discuss them. This can be tricky and does require lots of hard work.
If you choose to study English Language here's what to expect:
Lots of CLOSE READING AND ANALYSIS - Though there is no work on set books, you will spend a lot of time analysing texts in detail. “Texts” might include: adverts; transcripts of real speech; magazine articles; websites - even cartoon strips! You have met these skills at GCSE, but A-level English Language is significantly more demanding, with a lot of detailed study into how language works - including a strong focus on grammar and phonetics. You will also study a good deal of research that has been done on different aspects of language development both in individuals and wider social groups.
These topics can be fascinating so lots of DISCUSSION happens in lessons. You will be expected to have something to contribute to every lesson, on a whole range of language issues.
Paper 1: Language, the Individual and Society Exam: 2 hours 30 minutes; 40% of A-level
For this exam you will study textual variations and representations as well as children's language development (0-11 years). You will study a range of texts about various subjects, from various writers and speakers, for various audiences and for various purposes. Texts can be written, spoken and electronic.
Paper 2: Language Diversity and Change Exam: 2 hours 30 minutes; 40% of A-level
For this part of the course you will explore language in its wider social and geographical contexts, in particular the varieties of English within the British Isles. As well as study of dialects and responses to them, you will also explore how social status, occupation and gender affect language use. You will study a very wide variety of texts as well as conversation analysis and you will be developing an objective, analytical approach throughout the course. You will also study how language changes and develops over time.
Unit 3: Non-exam assessment (NEA) on ‘Language in Action’
This consists of two coursework tasks. One is an investigation into a particular area of language of your own choosing and the other is a piece of original writing and commentary. This is worth 20% of the final mark.
So, is it the right course for you?
As this is a subject that builds essential skills in communication and understanding, it will combine with any other A Level courses you may wish to study. It is also accepted by universities as a relevant qualification for a wide variety of courses.