A Level English Literature – Programme of Study

English Literature (Edexcel)

  Autumn term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
September1Introduction to Shakespearian comedy: building on students’ Shakespeare studies at GCSE; students revise/are introduced to features of dramatic comedy.
September & November6Text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Focus on GENRE (comedy) and CONTEXTS (Social and Critical)
Pre-reading activities should focus on student research into the contexts in which the play was produced:

  • social/political contexts

  • renaissance attitudes to women

  • context of Shakespearian comedy.


Shared reading of the play. Students complete a reading journal with comments on characterisation, themes, setting, dramatic techniques and audience response.
Focus on GENRE:

  • links to classical comedy

  • expectations of contemporary audiences

  • ‘problem’ comedies

  • flawed heroes and heroines

  • endings

  • explorations of gender issues.


Re-reading of the play. Students add to their initial comments and focus on the structure of the play, comic techniques such as the use of disguise, the role of the Fool, malapropisms, etc., and revise comments on previous ideas.
Introduction/revision of appropriate dramatic terminology: e.g. dramatic irony, satire, allusion, imagery, problem comedies, etc.
4Text: Shakespeare: A Critical Anthology
Students explore a range of critical approaches to Measure for Measure, using the Anthology and any other appropriate sources.
They will be encouraged to engage in critical debate around the text – taking part in group and paired discussion, hot-seating topics, etc.
Introduction to Poetry
(2 weeks)

  • Links to poetry study at GCSE

  • Students are introduced to a range of contemporary poetry and encouraged to read and annotate:

  • metre, rhythm, rhyme

  • the structure of the poem

  • unusual words

  • grammatical features

  • repetition/predominance

  • language/register

  • rhetorical features – metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, etc.

  • punctuation

  • allusions and references

  • tone.
Students complete essays on key aspects of the play – e.g. characterisation, contrasts and conflicts, dramatist’s handling of themes such as the corruption of power, good leadership, private v public personas, justice vs. mercy, etc. – always linking to the contexts in which the play was produced and is received.
Re-reading of the play. Students add to their initial comments and focus on the structure of the play, comic techniques such as the use of disguise, the role of the Fool, malapropisms, etc., and revise comments on previous ideas.
Introduction/revision of appropriate dramatic terminology: e.g. dramatic irony, satire, allusion, imagery, problem comedies, etc.
4Text: Poems of the Decade:
Focus on COMPARISON
Students work through the poems, exploring and analysing, building on analytical work from GCSE and developing skills of comparison.
Weekly essay style question on aspects of drama, poetry and prose throughout course
Keeping of journals/records of texts studied with personal notation
November 23rd 1Unit1Exams+ return of papersUnit1Exams+ return of papersMock exam
  Spring term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
Jan - Feb 6Text: The Importance of Being Earnest
Focus on CONTEXT
Pre-reading activities should focus on student research into the contexts in which the play was produced:

  • Oscar Wilde’s biography and influences

  • social/political contexts of upper classes


Shared reading of the play. Students complete a reading journal with comments on characterisation, themes, setting, dramatic techniques and audience response.
Focus on DRAMATIC TECHNIQUES:

  • Wilde’s use of comic devices

  • impact on audience

  • use of disguise

  • significance of upper class language.


Re-reading of the play. Students add to their initial comments with focus on the play’s themes.
Introduction/revision of appropriate dramatic terminology: e.g. symbolism, dramatic irony, comedy, hero, realism, direct address, etc.

Revision and informal assessment opportunity using SAMs (Component 1 Drama)
6Text: Poems of the Decade remaining poems and revision from autumn term)
Focus on COMPARISON
Students work through the poems, exploring and analysing, building on analytical work from term 1 and developing skills of comparison.
Students complete essays on key aspects of the play – e.g. characterisation, effects of theatrical techniques, dramatist’s handling of themes such as class conflict, the nature of art, etc. – always linking to the contexts in which the play was produced and is received.
Revision and informal assessment opportunity using SAMs (Component 1 Drama)
March - 1Mock exams+ return of papers
  Summer term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
April - May4Exploring unseen poetry
Students are introduced to strategies for scaffolding comparisons between the set poems and unseen poems in preparation for paper 3 Section A.
4-6Introduction to Coursework component: Two complete texts linked by theme, movement, author or period (free choice coursework)
This is written coursework, covering two complete texts from poetry, drama, prose, literary non-fiction or the film of a literary text studied alongside the published text. The texts may be linked by theme, movement, author or period. Literary study of both texts should be enhanced by study of the links and connections between them, different interpretations and the contexts in which they were written and received.
Focus on RESEARCH AND PRESENTATION SKILLS
(for submission at the beginning of Year 2)
Students will choose their texts and explore potential areas for study with their teacher and will be introduced to appropriate methods of research and presentation:

  • extended essay writing style

  • integrating evidence

  • avoiding plagiarism

  • citations and bibliographies

  • critical analysis


    • editing and proofreading.
June4MOCK EXAM PREPARATION & REVISION
Year 2
  Autumn Term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
September1-2Submit Coursework
..........................................................
Introduction to prose linking theme:
Childhood
Students explore and discuss representations of childhood and its effects in a range of texts/contexts
September & November6Focus on CONTEXTS and COMPARISON
Text: Hard Times – Charles Dickens

Pre-reading activities should focus on student research into the contexts in which the novella was produced:

  • Dickens’ biography and his childhood experiences in London and Kent

  • The Industrial Revolution and its effects

  • Victorian Britain and problems of hardship


While reading the novel, students complete a reading journal with comments on characterisation, themes, setting, narrative techniques and reader response.
Focus on THEMES:

  • power corrupts

  • man’s inhumanity to man

  • social inequality

  • gender issues

  • man vs. nature


    • Re-reading of the novel. Students add to their initial comments and focus on the narrative structure and point of view, use of imagery and symbolism, and different readings of the text.
      Introduction/revision of appropriate terminology: e.g. frame narrative, allegory, industrial novel, symbolism, etc.
      Students complete essays on key aspects of the novel – e.g. effects of narrative techniques, impact of settings, and writer’s exploration of themes – always linking to the contexts in which the text was produced and is received.

5Text: Atonement – Ian McEwan
Focus on CONTEXTS and COMPARISON
Pre-reading activities should focus on student research into the contexts in which the novel was produced:

  • growing up in the early 20th century

  • WW2 and its impact, particularly in France

  • London in the 1990’s


While reading the novel, students complete a reading journal with comments on characterisation, themes, setting, narrative techniques and reader response.
Focus on LANGUAGE AND FORM:

  • changing narrative perspective

  • use of imagery

  • different time periods

  • reportage.


    • Re-reading of the novel. Students add to their initial comments and focus on themes and ideas: e.g. social inequalities, London, attitudes to women, culture clash, etc.
      ..........................................................
      Students explore contrasts and comparisons between the two novels, with due regard to the theme of Childhood (1–2 weeks)
      One way in might be to explore both texts via the concepts of post-colonialist theory:

      • identity

      • stereotyping

      • exoticism
        English class system


Students complete essays on key aspects of the novel – e.g. characterisation, effects of narrative techniques, writer’s exploration of themes – always linking to the contexts in which the novel was produced and is received.
November1November mock exam: Informal assessment opportunity (Component 2) using SAMs
  Spring term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
January6Text: The Movement Poet: Philip Larkin (Text: The Less Deceived)
(6 weeks)
Focus on CONTEXT
Students work through the poems, exploring and analysing them in the contexts in which they were produced and received. They build on analytical work from Year 1.
Pre-reading activities should focus on student research into the contexts in which the poems were produced and students will have an understanding of:

  • intellectual, social and political contexts of mid 20th century England

  • the idea of social rebellion

  • contemporary and subsequent reception by critics


    • Introduction/revision of appropriate poetic terminology: e.g. conceit, irony, paradox, lyric, etc.
4-6Students re-visit drama texts from Year 1 – A Midsummer Nights Dream and The Importance of Being Earnest – using the Anthology section on comedy and a range of revision strategies to encourage critical and contextual explorations: e.g. character/theme grids, critiquing earlier essays, ‘face the critic’ debates, timed responses, etc.Students complete a reading journal with comments on form, themes, imagery, language features, contexts and reader response.
Students complete essays on key aspects of the poetry and are encouraged to select illustrative poems appropriately, linking them to the contexts in which they were produced and are received. General themes might be: love, mutability, knowledge and learning, spirituality and religious belief, death, travel, etc.
  Summer term   
DatesNo of weeksTopicsNo of weeksTopics Assignments
Thorough revision of all three components
(6 weeks)
Formal examinations:
Component 1: Drama
2 hours 15 minutes
Component 2: Prose
1 hour
Component 3: Poetry
2 hours 15 minutes