“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion

Those who enjoy reading stories will enjoy English Literature. The course is designed to encourage wide reading and detailed research within the field of literary studies. It offers a programme that will be rewarding and enjoyable in its own right, and forms a basis for further specialist work at degree level.

The principal aim of the two-year course rests in students exploring different literary styles from different cultural periods and emerging as confident, subtle analysts. The core focus therefore consists of twelve texts ranging from Chaucer through Shakespeare to the modern age.


Students who choose to study English Literature at A level will follow the Eduqas specification. Not only do we work at improving our close analysis, but we consider how different interpretations and wider contexts might affect our understanding of a text.

Currently, this course includes study of the following authors:

  • Tennessee Williams
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Carol Ann Duffy
  • William Shakespeare
  • Philip Larkin
  • John Webster

The A level contains a coursework unit, which amounts to 20% of the total marks. The remaining 80% is assessed through three two-hour examinations sat in the Upper Sixth.

Trips, activities and clubs

In addition to our teaching there are a range of support activities to support the development of student’s knowledge including:

  • English Society – this is run by departmental staff for Sixth Form students and arranges a variety of co-curricular opportunities.
  • There are interview practice sessions for prospective Oxbridge candidates as well as preparation for the ELAT pre-interview examination at Oxford.
  • The department also organises academics and guest speakers to address the students on set texts and issues in contemporary literature.
    • JG Ballard’s High Rise
    • Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian
    • John Milton’s Paradise Lost
    • Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel
  • Wider Reading Group – this is aimed at all students who want to read far beyond the A level syllabus. Texts that have been discussed in recent years include: Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day
  • Debating – The department has a proud history of success in Debating. Students compete in the Oxford, Cambridge and other national debating competitions.
  • Support – we run weekly drop-in clinics for those who find certain aspects of English challenging.
  • Extension – we run a weekly extension class open to all Sixth Form students. We also set regular extension essays.
  • We also regularly run trips to London theatres and an annual residential trip to Stratford-upon-Avon.


  • Mr C Cook BA MA (Cantab) (Head of English)
  • Mr T Mitchell BA (Head of Creative Writing)
  • Ms V Barsby BA
  • Miss E Bush MA (Hons)
  • Mr J Smith BA (Hons)
  • Mrs N Whittaker BA, MA (Oxon)