As learners progress through the two year course, their studies will be extended in breadth and depth, developing and enhancing learners’ techniques of analysis, evaluation and comparison of literary texts in the context of a wider range of texts of cultural and literary significance. The English Literature course provides you with the opportunity to develop the range and depth of your reading and to consider more carefully the characteristics and implications of a major art form.
The course draws on a range of different literary forms from a variety of different time periods providing a balance of novels, plays and poetry, comprising both classical and contemporary works. You will also develop the skills of reading literary criticism and consider the impact of social, historical and cultural contexts upon texts.
English literature is a subject that by its nature requires learners to consider individual, moral, ethical, social, cultural and contemporary issues. The specification provides a framework for exploration of such issues and includes specific content through which individual courses may address these issues. For example, in meeting the assessment objective AO3, learners are engaged in considering the significance and influence of contexts in which literary texts are written and received. Spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural aspects are pertinent to such contexts.
The course provides excellent preparation for those wishing to study English Literature at undergraduate level whilst also providing excellent grounding for a plethora of different courses and careers. It is a course that stretches all candidates and fosters tremendous independent reading and study skills.
WHAT TEXTS WILL I STUDY?
One reason we chose the Welsh Board syllabus (Eduqas) out of the four on offer, is the freedom it gives to select a diverse range of texts. This specification is based on a conviction that the study of literature should encourage enjoyment of literary studies based on an informed personal response to a range of texts. The specification provides learners with an introduction to the discipline of advanced literary studies and presents opportunities for reading widely and for making creative and informed responses to each of the major literary genres of poetry, prose and drama.
This specification gives opportunities for candidates to be examined in different ways. For Component 1, candidates are expected to have access to the texts studied, and thus be able to support their line of argument with a wider range of precise reference than would be possible from memory alone. Having access to the texts in the examination allows candidates the opportunity to display their close reading skills in response to the questions set. The texts must be clean copies, with no annotation. Component 2 within this specification will be examined without texts being available to candidates during the examination. Component 3 requires examination of unseen texts. The course utilises and develops upon the texts taught in Year 12.
Component 1: Poetry – Open Book
John Milton – Paradise Lost (Book IX)
An epic poem in blank verse, Milton’s 17th century masterpiece dramatises the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel, Satan, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s text challenges readers to interrogate philosophical and ethical issues and, as the critic Samuel Johnson proclaimed, ‘has the peculiar power to astonish.’
The Poetry of Ted Hughes’ (selected by Simon Armitage) and the poetry of Sylvia Plath (selected by Ted Hughes).
A comparative response on the works of the two writers.
Appointed Poet Laureate in 1984, Ted Hughes’ work is a brooding presence in the landscape of 20th Century poetry. His poetry offers readers an unflinching observation of the natural world and the shaping, often damaging, presence of man. A Yorkshire poet, his style s is recognisable in the way that he tends to use tough vocabulary and an intensity in his use of imagery
Component 2: Drama
Perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest play, ‘Hamlet’ is a play about kingship and dramatises the fears and anxieties prevalent in Elizabethan England as the monarch’s great reign was nearing its end. It contains some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful and most challenging speeches and offers students a great opportunity to explore Shakespeare at the height of his powers.
Joe Orton’s ‘Loot’ and Thomas Middleton’s ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’
A comparative response on the works of the two writers. Orton’s brilliant 1965 satirical biting farce ‘Loot’, exposes the hypocrisy and double-standards that Orton claimed were rampant in middle-class post-war Britain. It satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force. It follows the fortunes of two young thieves, Hal and Dennis with hilarious and absurd consequences.
The Jacobean revenge tragedy, is a hilarious romp through some of the similar key themes and ideas that Shakespeare explored in ‘Hamlet’ – the ethics and morality of revenge. Middleton’s ‘Revenger’s Tragedy’ introduces readers to a sordid and corrupt world in which even the actions of the hero are riddled with flaws and immorality.
Component 3: Unseen
This component gives learners the opportunity to synthesise and reflect upon the knowledge they have gained from the course as a whole and to apply their skills of literary analysis to the examination of unseen prose and unseen poetry texts. Here, learners have the opportunity to approach each section in a personal and engaged way, demonstrating their own critical skills as they encounter texts that have not been previously set for study as part of the course.
Section A: Unseen prose
This section will take a prose passage from the period 1918-1939. In their analysis of the unseen prose passage, candidates must focus their response on how meanings are shaped. In addition, they must give some consideration to relevant contexts and how texts may be read in more than one way. A set of brief supporting contextual and critical extracts will accompany each prose passage to help candidates consider the significance and influence of contexts and other readers’ views.
Section B: Unseen poetry
Section B requires candidates to respond to one question from a choice of two. Each question will offer an unseen poem or poetry extract from any period. In their response to the unseen poem, candidates must focus on the ways in which meanings are shaped.
Component 4: Prose Coursework
This component is internally assessed and externally moderated. It requires learners to submit a 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of two prose texts by different authors, one published pre-2000 and one published post-2000.
Jane Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’
Bronte’s 1847 novel divided and even outraged some critics as it rebelliously introduced the idea of the ‘modern individual’ – a radical concept in Victorian Industrialised Britain. Through the narrative voice of Jane – who so openly expresses her desire for identity, definition, meaning and passion – Bronte challenges readers to re-interrogate social and cultural practices, as Jane refuses to submit to her social destiny.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’
A Dystopian science fiction shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005 is a novel about a young woman Kathy who takes readers on a journey through a bizarre and strange world. The characters are shown to place a great importance on conformity which encourages readers to interrogate and question to what degree fate governs the indivual.
If you would like to read the Syllabus in full, log on to the WJEC website at: http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/english-literature/as-a-level/
The new A-level specification gives importance to wide reading. You will not gain the full benefits of the course if you restrict yourself to the set texts.
Consequently, the English Department organises a good deal of extension work both through class and through the Literary Society which meets once a week at lunchtime. The Department also runs a Literary Lecture Series for which lecturers and speakers are invited to deliver talks to A Level students on a range of topics that both enhance and supplement the texts studied on the course. This is supported by the new Literary Critical Reading group that the Department runs.
Beyond all this, the Department keeps in touch with ex-Latymer undergraduates and graduates who keep us informed about university English departments, and who are happy to help and advise Sixth Formers in respect of their university choices. The Department also provides support for students wishing to go on to read English at university including ELAT preparation for Oxbridge candidates.
Above all, the syllabus stresses the individuality of your judgment: your work should reflect your own temperament and values. At the same time we shall help you to justify your opinions in writing and discussion. Disciplined argument is an essential ally of intuition and insight and an essential skill needed for most university courses or careers.
We shall encourage you to read closely and to appreciate why careful analysis can be rewarding and enjoyable. We shall also help you to appreciate the historical and social contexts in which literary works are written and the ways in which different critical judgments can be developed and substantiated
Although most of the texts for each module have to be decided in advance by your teachers, there is tremendous scope for reading around those texts and contexts independently. The very broadness of a subject like English allows for students to explore the discipline in a variety of ways. In those texts chosen by your teachers, there will be considerable scope for your own judgment. There is no such thing as a correct interpretation of a text, and our lessons and the assignments to which they lead, will always emphasise the importance of each student’s insight and initiative.
You will have two teachers for this course, the work divided equally between them. Every teacher of literature has a distinctive approach and particular enthusiasms and specialisms - and it is important for you to realise that there are many ways in which one can engage with literature creatively and successfully.
The minimum requirements are those of entry into the Sixth Form.
Component 1: Poetry
2 hours 30% of qualification
Section A: Poetry – Milton (open-book, clean copy, one two-part question.
Section B: Poetry – Hughes and Plath (open-book, clean copy), one question from a choice of two.
Component 2: Drama
2 hours 30% of qualification
Section A: Shakespeare – (closed-book), one two-part question
Section B: Drama – Middleton and Orton (closed-book), one question from a choice of two.
Component 3: Unseen
2 hours 20% of qualification
Section A: Unseen prose One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen passage of prose.
Section B: Unseen poetry One question from a choice of two, analysing an unseen poem or poetry extract.
Component 4: Coursework
2500-3500 words 20% of qualification
One 2500-3500 word assignment based on the reading of ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Never Let Me Go.’
We make use of just about every approach you could think of. The basis of our work is a seminar/discussion arrangement, but you should also expect to engage in role-playing, acting, reporting back, presentations and other forms of active involvement. You will work in pairs and groups as well as in a seminar. We run theatre and other study trips whenever the opportunity arises. Whatever teaching methods may be used, it will be your approach to learning that will bring success. You should be prepared to join in and make your presence felt.
Almost anything you like! English is widely accepted as a subject that encourages imaginative flair and careful reasoning. The combination of these qualities is attractive to universities and employers.
Apart from English degrees (and related subjects such as foreign languages and History), English A-level is often accepted for admission to degrees in other disciplines, including Science, Medicine and Law.
Above all, what you gain from the course should stay with you throughout your life. Whatever degree and job you decide to do, the ability to read great literature confidently and with enjoyment will most surely make a difference to you.