The English Literature course has the scope and flexibility that encourages enjoyment of a wide range of novels, plays and poems from a variety of times and places. There is a coursework component that allows a relative freedom of choice in both text and topic, while a group of set books are studied for written examination.
Both elements enable development of a sound critical sense and a confidence in formulating personal individual judgment and opinion about the nature of literature and many of the ideas that it treats. Lessons are discussion-based with the use of DVDs, internet, study days and stage presentations as frequent sources of stimulus and insight.
The A-level syllabus is divided into four units, with the two units of the AS providing 50% of the assessment weighting of the full A-level. The first module is coursework, with the first assignment on the study of a single text and the second based on a comparative study between another two texts. The second module is assessed as a closed text exam where questions are set on selected works of one poet and a single prose fiction text.
The A-level units are taken in the second year of the Sixth Form. The coursework unit is based on a theme or time period e.g. Satire or Romanticism and covers texts from at least two genres. This unit gives the student the opportunity to develop and explore the topic in some depth and encourages independent learning; an important aspect of their education and one prized by universities. The second unit involves the study of Shakespeare and also another drama text and poetry. Making connections is one of the key aspects of this together with the in-depth study of a Shakespeare play, a highlight of the English canon.
In addition to the formal requirements of the course, the English Department organises a range of activities to deepen your knowledge of literature. Lectures by prominent critics and writers, study days and poetry workshops enable our students to appreciate literature as live experience. Visits to the theatre are regular features of the course. Further stimulus is provided by subscription to the English Review, a quarterly literary magazine designed to widen literary awareness.
The English Department is one of the largest in the school. It has an excellent record of success at school and university. A popular choice both at AS and A-level, English appeals to students of all academic interests and aptitude. Literature engages the intellect and the emotions: our students need to think and feel. The course nurtures and develops critical and analytical skills, an openness to new ideas and a sensitive response to a complex world.