A Level – English Literature


In Loreto we deliver the CCEA English Literature specification.
This course provides an opportunity to study a wide range of Irish and International literature. Students are given the opportunity to explore an important part of their own cultural heritage and to deepen their understanding, not only of their own history and society but also gain an insight into others. Through independent and critical reading, discussing ideas and engaging in debate with peers, students will develop their interest and enjoyment in literary studies and become accomplished, discerning readers.

AS/A2 pupils have 4 double periods of English Literature per week.

The latest version of the revised AS and A2 specifications can be viewed and downloaded on the CCEA website athttp://www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/english_literature/revised_gce/index.asp


Recommended GCSE Subjects and Grades

English Language A*/A

English Literature A*/A

Minimum Grade for both subjects – A

Subject Content


Module 1:

2 Hour Examination                     60% of As                24% of A’Level

Comparative study of Poetry written after 1900 (paired poets) (Open Book) and the Study of Drama after 1900 (Closed Book)

Unit AS 1 Section A: This Study of Poetry Pre 1900 – Present

In section A, students explore and respond to a range of poetry by two poets they have studied. Students learn to analyse, evaluate, compare and contrast.

  • Robert Frost and Seamus Heaney

Unit AS 1 Section B: The Study of Drama 1900-Present

In Section B, students communicate their knowledge and understanding of a play by a modern dramatist.

  • A Streetcar Named Desire   – Tennessee Williams

Module 2:

1 Hour Examination                     40% of As               16% of A’Level

The study of Prose Pre 1900 (Closed Book)

Unit AS 2: The Study of Prose Pre 1900

In this unit, students communicate their knowledge and understanding of a novel.

  • Frankenstein- Mary Shelley


A2 Subject Content

Module 1:

1 1/2 Hour Examination                   20% A’Level

Critical Response to Shakespeare (Closed Book)

Unit A2 1: Shakespearean Genres

In this unit, students analyse a single play from a chosen Shakespearean genre – tragedy, comedy,                           problem plays or last plays. Each question offers an extract as a basis for answering the question on the play as a whole.

  • King Lear

Module 2:

2 Hour Examination                        20% of A’Level

The Study of  Pre 1900 Poetry (Closed Book) and a response to an Unseen Poem

Unit A2 2: Section A: The Study of Prose Pre 1900

In Section A, students explore and response to a range of poetry by a poet they have studied. They draw on the skills developed in their AS study of poetry.

  • John Donne

Unit AS 2: Section B: Unseen Poetry

In Section B, students demonstrate critical skill and personal engagement in response to an unseen poem. Students analyse poetic methods to determine how poets shape meaning.

Module 3:

Internally Assessed Component 2500 words          20% A’Level

Comparative Study of two novels, one of which must be 21st Century

Unit A2 3:Internal Assessment

Students engage in a detailed study of two novels, one of which must be a twenty-first – century novel


Method of Assessment

AS Module 1: 2 hour Examination

AS Module 2:1 hour External Examination

A2 Module 1:1½ hour External Examination

A2 Module 2:2 hour External Examination
A2 Module 3: Internally Assessed Component – 2500 words

Post 16 English Literature Quotes 

English Literature at A’Level is one of my favourite subjects as it encourages my development in critical thinking and analytical work. I can use the skills I have learned in class, such as essay writing and apply it to other classes. I love English Literature as it is a stress free subject and I can enjoy each class. All opinions are relevant so I am encouraged to speak out in class. I look forward to my English classes and if you enjoy reading, poetry or analysing texts this is the subject for you. I can guarantee you will love it!

I really enjoy studying English Literature for A’Level because I love exploring the texts from various eras, cultures and genres. At A’Level, the work is definitely more advanced but it is extremely interesting if you are a book lover. It has helped me immensely to develop my critical thinking skills and form relevant and strong arguments.

I like studying English literature because I am able to express my opinions and I can learn from others. Not only do I read and write essays but I also get to understand and interpret the importance that various forms of Literature have had on the society of the past and present. It also allows me to expand my exam techniques not only for English but other subjects too!    

The literary texts allow you to be transported to different eras and explore new worlds. There are no wrong answers in English Literature – just new possibilities.


Career Possibilities

English is one of the core subjects of the curriculum and there are a wide range of career opportunities. English Literature complements subjects such as Modern Languages, History and Politics. A qualification in GCE English Literature could lead to a degree course in the areas of arts, humanities or communication. This qualification is a good foundation for those interested in careers in journalism, the media, theatre, law, public relations, politics, or teaching, as well as for those planning to go straight into employment. The skills acquired through taking this course are in demand by employers as well as universities and colleges.

Students must be self-motivated in order to fully enjoy and meet the challenges of this course. Moreover, a passion for reading and discussing literature, along with a willingness to study independently, is a must. Sensitivity to language is also vital. There are sometimes opportunities for conference with neighbouring schools and theatre visits.

In preparation for the AS English Literature exam, Year 13 students visited the Lyric Theatre, Belfast to see a production of Tennessee Williams’s play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. This worthwhile visit was our first Shared Education venture with Foyle College, Derry and we look forward to meeting up with Foyle again in the future.