A Level English

English Literature (AQA 7717)

For this course we focus on aspects of crime and tragedy as ‘lenses’ through which texts can be appreciated and understood. There are six set texts in total, including a modern novel and Shakespeare. In class we read and discuss these in detail and students are encouraged to develop their understanding of how authors shape meanings in their texts. Lessons in English Literature are designed to be fun, lively, thought-provoking and challenging.

Time is spent learning about the different contexts in which the texts were produced so we all deepen our awareness of how societies, religious and scientific understanding, politics and philosophy have changed over time. Not only is this really interesting as we discover more about how writers have shaped our understanding of how people engage with their readers and how we engage with what we read, it is also of significant importance in terms of our wider engagement with the world.

Students are encouraged to read widely themselves and have the opportunity, in the non-exam assessment (NEA), to write about a novel and a collection of poetry of their own choice. In class a variety of texts are explored as a starting point to the NEA but the emphasis is very much on students working independently. We also look at various ways of reading texts, exploring how narrative, feminist, Marxist or post-colonial theories (amongst others) can shape the ways in which we understand texts.

The subjects of tragedy and crime will be, no doubt, entertaining, enlightening and moving. There are some great texts to explore. Though in many ways this is not a subject that can simply be ‘learned’ in a traditional sense, the way in which the course develops students’ skills of analysis and perception makes it an excellent subject to study and one that is highly valued by universities. In previous years our students have gone on to study a variety of courses, including English Literature at Oxford University and UCL, and they take with them strong memories of texts they have thoroughly enjoyed studying at A Level.

English Language (AQA 7702)

This A Level offers fresh insight into the daily usage (and abusage) of English Language by individuals and groups; it will challenge your preconceptions of language and human interaction, as well as stimulating your understanding of how language is used and fostering your own ability to communicate effectively – both when speaking and writing. Lessons are designed to be lively and fun, with group discussions, exploration of a variety of ‘real world’ texts, challenging and thought-provoking topics and even some revelations!

Language and representation is an engrossing topic where we look closely at how language is used to present people and institutions in certain ways. One of the great joys of this course is that it will increase your capacity to see clearly how language is used in everyday life to manipulate an audience. Not only that, the course will also facilitate the development of your grammatical and analytical skills, in order that you will increasingly be able to describe language in a very precise and accurate way. You will be presented with a rich and diverse range of provocative texts, ranging from internet chat rooms, vlogs and social media, to transcripts of spoken conversations and more traditional written texts, such as newspaper articles, letters and magazines.

You will also explore language in its wider social and geographical contexts – in particular the rich variety of English within the British Isles and indeed the wider world. The exploration of the ways in which social status, occupation, and gender affect language use is another absorbing facet of English Language, and you will be encouraged to develop an objective and evaluative perspective as the course develops.

The non-exam assessment (NEA) allows you to choose your own area of research for an extended language investigation. This project is not only interesting in its own right but also provides invaluable experience of the independent study skills that are highly valued on a degree course. You will also produce a piece of creative writing which forms a pleasing contrast to the essay writing skills required for most other A Level courses. As this is a subject that builds essential skills in communication and understanding, it will dovetail neatly with any other A Level course you may wish to study. It is also accepted by universities as a relevant qualification for a wide variety of courses. In short: it’s an original, extremely accessible and vibrant A level course.

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