Course Level: GCSE

Exam Board: AQA

Specification link: GCSE English Literature

Entry requirements: No specific requirements

Course Description

In English Literature, learners will study Shakespeare, a 19thcentury novel, modern text and poetry

This course will enable learners:

  • read a wide range of classic literature fluently and with good understanding, and make connections across their reading 
  • read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so that they are able to discuss and explain their understanding and ideas 
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often 
  • appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage 
  • write accurately, effectively and analytically about their reading, using Standard English 
  • acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literary and linguistic terms they need to criticise and analyse what they read. 

How is it examined? 

English Literature: Paper 1 – Shakespeare and the 19thCentury novel. 

English Literature Paper 2 – Modern texts and poetry. 

What is the difference between Literature and Language?

English literature is more concerned with the thematic content of texts and typically involves poetry, prose and larger bodies of work. English language is more scientific in nature and looks at language in segments e.g. Syntax, Morphology, Phonology. In English language you can expect to encounter a larger range texts for analysis. For example, studying extracts of advertising to look at how language is used to persuade consumers.

(The course profile covers both English Language and English Literature.)

Course Profile

Career Pathways

English is a very important subject that forms the foundation of all other subjects. Furthermore, most colleges require a good pass in English because it indicates that you have a good grasp of functional literacy skills and will be able to cope with higher order thinking skills at tertiary level. 

Similarly, future employers place great emphasis on good literacy and communicative skills that will provide you with confidence as you prepare for adult life. 

It's impossible to go a day without using English and mathematical skills, and a good level of understanding means that you can have more control over things like your finances, communication and you can gain a better understanding of issues such as politics and current affairs.

Studies show that higher levels of literacy and numeracy are linked to better health and a longer lifespan.  These skills also have a positive impact on your mental health.


Job Opportunities

The majority of employers look for at least a GCSE grade 4 in English and mathematics. A good result in mathematics could be the difference between you getting that job or promotion you’ve always wanted.

People with good GCSE grades in English and mathematics also earn approximately +£2,000 more than those who don’t.

The majority of university courses look for at least a 5 in GCSE English and mathematics as this shows you have a good understanding of the subjects. Not getting a 5 in these subjects might limit your chances of getting onto a higher education course at University or qualifying for a higher level apprenticeship.


Further reading

Year 9/10/11 books:

CPG GCSE AQA English and English Literature

Helpful websites:

Cliffs notes 

Spark revision 

Mr Bruff revision videos