A2 in English Literature


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A2 in English Literature

Please note that the last date for exams for this course will be May/June 2016.

A Level Literature offers students the opportunity to explore a wide range of literary and critical texts. Through your study, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of literary techniques. You will examine how texts emerge from a variety of literary traditions. You will be able to consider literary texts and their contexts of production and reception. As the course progresses, you will be able to present literary analysis and argument with increasing sophistication, using a wide range of appropriate literary terms.

The structure of the course also provides opportunities to undertake wider reading and independent critical research, as part of course work portfolios.

The course encourages students to develop their interest and enjoyment of English Literature, as they:

  • interpret texts using literary approaches
  • engage creatively  and critically with a wide range of poetry, prose and drama texts
  • explore the relationships between texts and contexts
  • develop their skills as producers and interpreters of critical theory


The A2 Units

Important note: A2 is not a standalone qualification. You need to have taken units 1 and 2 with Units 3 and 4 to achieve the full A-level.

 Unit 3 ‘Love Through the Ages’

This unit requires you to consider the ways in which writers have presented the central theme of love in one poetry, one prose and one drama text. The title of the unit indicates the requirement for students to read across historical and literary periods , from Chaucer’s middle English in the fourteenth century, to multimodal texts of the present day. Love can be considered in a number of forms – from platonic,  to romantic, to the love created by family bonds. The examination will give you opportunities to present comparative skills, as you compare and contrast a broad range of texts.

Unit 3 is worth 30% of the A-level.

Assessment is by written examination in May/ June of year of study.  The examination lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes.

As in Unit 1, you will answer TWO questions.

In Section A, you will be analysing TWO  unprepared extracts linked by genre. These unseen extracts will be provided in a source booklet given to you in the examination. You will compare how the theme of love is presented in these texts.

In Section B, you will respond to TWO further unseen extracts. You will be expected to make connections and comparisons across texts, with an awareness of wider contexts drawn from your wider reading.


Unit 4: Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study

 This unit carries 20% of the total marks for the A Level.

 Assessment is by coursework portfolio. This is completed throughout the year and submitted to your examination centre in April so marks can be awarded.  A maximum of 70 marks will be awarded.

The portfolio will consist of one piece of extended writing. It will focus on a Shakespearean text and you will produce a comparative study with the core text against two other texts. In the study, you will be required to explore themes, language, form and style. At A2, you will be expected to consider a range of possible literary interpretations of all three texts.

Wider reading of critical texts and an awareness of the critical history of each of your chosen texts will be used to support you in producing the study.

Word limits are as follows:

  • 3000 words maximum for the comparative essay.

The piece you write will be based on your own thematic study of texts and topic-based research. At A2 you will be given a choice of texts to work from. Your wider reading should be made up of the study of one Shakespearean text, two comparative texts and further research using a range of texts.

The course materials for Unit 4 are designed to support you in the writing process as you plan, draft and write your own texts.

Additional resources – What else will I need?

Course texts

Unit 3 LITA3
  • Barnes, Julian Talking it Over (Picador, 1991)
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey  The Canterbury Tales trans. Nigel Coghill (Penguin, 2003 [1951])
  • Shakespeare, William Twelfth Night, or, What You Will (ca. 1601)

The AQA syllabus does not prescribe particular texts for wider reading for this unit. Students are encouraged to determine their own private study texts, related to the topic of’ Love through the Ages’. Because the A2 focuses strongly on individual interpretation, the choice of wider reading will not be restricted to a list.


What's Included

Online Learning Documentation, Online Resources and Tutor support for 1 year.

Further Information

Your course is delivered online via the Oxford Learning On Campus website.

January 2013 will be the last January exam period. All future exams will be held during the May - June exam period only.

In the student 'On Campus' area you are also able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.

After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access the On Campus area within 3 working days.

Students are required to arrange and pay for their examinations and manage the course work element if the subject requires this. Students must check the relevant examination board website for further information and final examination sitting dates for the specification.

Materials and support provided by Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning


Course Fee


Payment by Instalments

Students are able to pay course fees in monthly instalments. Click here to download our instalment plan.

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