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English Language and Literature

The study of A Level English Language and Literature will focus on reading and analysing texts within a shared context. You will be encouraged to explore the relationships between various texts and the specific contexts within which they are written, received and understood. Studying these poetry, prose and drama works enables you to investigate and connect them, drawing out patterns of similarity and difference using a variety of reading strategies and perspectives.

This course is an award of Edexcel. You can see the course specifications by downloading the A Level English Language and Literature Specifications booklet.

Subject content

The English Language and Literature A Level gives you essential analytical skills that support any career choice.

You will study a range of texts from different eras and contexts from Romantic literature to modern day screenplays, utilising essential skills to deconstruct and evaluate the texts in detail. You will learn how spoken and written language can be used to manipulate the audience, as well as how attitudes and ideologies help shape our use of language.

Paper 1: Voices in Speech and Writing

Anthology: You will study an anthology of mostly modern non-fiction texts, including a variety of non-literary and digital texts from different forms, such as interviews, broadcasts, podcasts, blogs, screenplays and travelogues. You will learn how to study spoken language, gendered language, and engage in debates about topics such as language change.

Drama text: A Streetcar Named Desire – You will study this play from 1940s America, learning various dramatic methods and techniques. The key themes are relationships, violence, addiction, the past, trauma and prejudice.

Paper 2: Varieties in Language and Literature

Unseen Prose non fiction: You will learn the necessary skills to deconstruct and analyse a non-fiction text that you have never seen before. In preparation for this, you will analyse a range of different texts.

Prose comparison: You will study Wide Sargasso Sea, a Post-colonial Modernist novel alongside Dracula, a Gothic novel from Victorian England, learning about narrative construction, characterisation, and various linguistic and literary features used by the two writers. The central theme to this comparative study is “crossing boundaries”.

You will study the following:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Voices in Speech and Writing – an assortment of contemporary text types


You will learn how to craft two pieces of creative writing: one piece of fiction and one piece of literary non-fiction. These will be submitted to the examiner alongside a commentary, again written by you, explaining your decisions.

Specific Entry Requirements

GCSE Grade 5 or above in English Language and Literature.


The subject is assessed by two exams at the end of Year 13 (80%) as well as one piece of creative writing which is marked internally (20%).

Progression opportunities

An A Level in English Language and Literature is incredibly useful in terms of careers. It prepares you for many careers including journalism, creative writing and media.

Universities respect the course as much as the separate A Levels in either English Language or Literature, meaning you are able to continue on to study Linguistics or Literature at degree level.

In addition, you study creative writing skills, which are not taught on either of the single qualifications, and support creative career aspirations.


Meet the A Level expert

Helen Maloney

Helen has a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Sheffield.

Helen Said: “English develops your analytical and critical thinking skills, your written communication and your creative writing ability. In an era where we are constantly inundated with information, English helps you to understand, interrogate and interact with the world around you.”

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