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Do you love words? Would you like to learn how the experts use them to create compelling, inspiring and imaginative writing? If you enjoy poetry, prose and drama and discussing your reading with equally enthusiastic teachers and students, you'll adore our English Literature A level, which gives you the chance to immerse yourself in works of more maturity and complexity than at GCSE.

OCR A Level English Literature H472

English LiteractureStudying English Literature at A Level will allow you to explore challenging and thought-provoking
texts and you will be encouraged to read widely in different genres (poetry, short stories, the novel, drama) and from different periods (for example, medieval to the present day). You will also learn how to evaluate the importance of a text’s intellectual and historical context.

The course places emphasis on developing critical skills, both orally and on paper, and on defending one’s views against those of other critics as well as other students. We encourage students to develop their own opinions and interpretations and to share them with others.

Recent changes to the syllabus have meant that a greater proportion of texts are modern and there are more opportunities for independent reading. The coursework assignment has the potential to produce sophisticated, sustained academic writing and to allow intellectually lively students with argumentative and analytical flair the chance to shine.

Beyond the classroom 

We attend study days on set texts and enjoy theatre trips whenever possible. We also make use of our local Cambridge connections, including the resources at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Course content

Component 1: Shakespeare and Drama & Poetry pre-1900

  • The focus of Section 1 is the study of one Shakespeare text, for example The Tempest.
  • The focus of Section 2 is the comparative study of one drama text and one poetry text, for example Ibsen's A Doll's House and the poetry of Christina Rossetti.

Component 2: Comparative and Contextual Study

  • This component is split into the following topic areas: American Literature (1880-1940); The Gothic; Dystopia; Women in Literature and The Immigrant Experience. You will study one topic (this year we are doing the American synoptic) and study two whole texts. In addition to the set texts, you will be expected to read widely and independently in the chosen topic area to help you prepare for the unseen question.

Component 3: (non examined assessment)

  • This is an internally assessed component, the coursework element, designed to encourage individual study, and its emphasis is on modern literature. You will study three literary texts, one of which must have been first published or performed in 2000 or later (including one prose, one poetry and one drama text).


  • Component 1: Shakespeare and Poetry & Drama pre-1900, 2 hours 30 minutes, closed text, 40% of final exam.
  • Component 2: Comparative and Contextual Study, 2 hours 30 minutes, closed text, 40% of total exam.
  • Component 3: Coursework, 3000-word folder, 20% of total exam. You will produce two pieces of work: one a 1000-word close reading of a portion of one text (or a re-creative writing piece with commentary), the other a 2000-word comparative essay based on two texts.