A level


Different perspectives, knowledge beyond the contemporary context, lessons for the future, writings from the past, creativity beyond limitations, freedom of expression, themes that challenge, and skills for lifelong achievement. What more could you want from a subject? AQA English Literature focuses on the way texts are constructed, analysing how style and language is used to convey meaning.

You will study and compare a variety of set texts. Class time will be spent on active tasks such as discussions to build on the reading and preparation you will have done in advance. In addition, you will craft discursive essays and research-based investigations. We run an exciting programme of extra-curricular activities and trips from theatre trips across the county to residential workshops at the Globe Theatre in London. We have strong links with York University for coursework research and the Ryedale Book Festival for seminars with professional writers (fiction and non-fiction).


Copies of set texts.


The most successful literature students are ones who have enquiring minds and are committed to developing their analytical skills across a range of texts. You must be prepared to read widely and, wherever possible, broaden your exposure to language and literature by attending performances, listening to radio broadcasts and visiting the cinema.


At A level, there are two examined units:

  • Love Through the Ages (exam, 40%) – ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ – Shakespeare, ‘The Great Gatsby’ – Fitzgerald, AQA Poetry anthology: Love through the Ages.
  • Texts in Shared Contexts (exam, 40%) – ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – Atwood, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ – Williams, ‘Skirrid Hill’ – Sheers.

20% is decided by non-exam assessment (‘Independent Critical Study: Texts Across Time’).


We have had a high number of students choosing to pursue their love of English at university, often at prestigious institutions. A level English opens up many possibilities post-18 because of the analytical, writing and oral skills you have gained. Successful English students typically embark on a variety of career paths, most popular are those linked to law, media, drama, journalism and education. However, choosing A level English Literature is an excellent academic route to almost all avenues of university study as it counts as a facilitating subject. Even for scientific routes like medicine English Literature can be a useful third subject as you will be expected to write extended essays, reflective pieces and scientific papers at medical school. A level English Literature also teaches students to critically analyse texts and formulate complex arguments, both of which are required by a number of subjects at university.


“My success in English simply wouldn’t have been possible without the support I received from the English Department staff. From the early years at Malton School which helped to get me excited about the field to A level which focused on the complexities and challenges involved in the subject, the teachers continually challenged us to think independently and provided constructive feedback on ways in which we could improve.”

A former student who is now reading English Literature at university.