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:
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?
Unit 3 LITA3
- Barnes, Julian Talking it Over (Picador, 1991)
- Chaucer, Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales trans. Nigel Coghill (Penguin, 2003 )
- 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.