A level English Literature

Ashbourne has a vibrant English department led by inspirational staff and full of students with a genuine enthusiasm for the subject. All of this makes for an extremely lively and engaging classroom environment.

Students explore drama, poetry and prose and are encouraged to take part in an ongoing wider reading project, attend poetry readings and get involved in Ashbourne’s annual Revue showcasing students’ artistic talents.

London offers students an exceptional choice of shows, events and exhibitions as well as outstanding libraries and bookshops.

Why study English Literature?

For voracious readers, word lovers, poets and theatre buffs English Literature is the perfect choice.

Studying literature feeds the imagination. It allows you to travel back in time, share the experiences of others, take on new perspectives, explore ideas, beliefs and values, challenge or discover your own and learn the literary skills to express yourself in original and creative ways through dialogue, argument, prose and poetry.

The analytical, interpretative and discursive skills you develop by studying literature will also prove excellent preparation for university. A level English Literature is a highly regarded qualification by universities.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the Edexcel specification for AS level and A level English Literature.

What is covered in the course?

AS level comprises two components: poetry and drama, and prose. The A level course comprises three main components – drama, prose and poetry – plus coursework.

AS level

Poetry and DramaProse
Poems of the Decade (An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry) offers students an eclectic mix of contemporary prize-winning poetry to pore over by familiars such as Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney and Andrew Motion and less conventional poets as Tim Turnbull, Daljit Nagra, George Szirtes and Patience Agbabi.

Students will examine poetic form, content and meaning, analysing links and connections between the poems and exploring a variety of themes from violence and danger to fear and love.

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
When fading southern belle Blanche DuBois stays with her sister Stella in a boisterous corner of New Orleans her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella’s violent husband Stanley Kowalski. Her fragile sense of identity begins to crumble threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.

Tennessee Williams was a highly celebrated, Pultizer Prize winning playwright who was born in Mississippi in 1911.

Students analyse how literary and dramatic devices are used to shape meaning, look at what techniques are employed to rouse the audience, explore the contexts (e.g. social, political, cultural, personal) that shape and influence the text or author and examine the attitudes and values expressed in the plays. They will also critically compare and evaluate others’ interpretations.

Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
Marlow recounts his physical and psychological journey, in the heart of the African continent, in search of the infamous and unscrupulous ivory trader Kurtz. His quest leads him to radically question not only his own nature and values but also those of western civilisation. 

Conrad’s classic novel explores the limits of human experience and nightmarish realities of imperialism. Heart of Darkness was the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film Apocalypse Now.

A Passage to India E.M. Forster
Determined to escape the insular ‘Anglo-Indian’ enclave of Chandrapore Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore head for the ‘real India’ guided by the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz. But a mysterious incident soon finds the respected doctor at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects.

E.M. Forster (1879-1970) was an English novelist who explored class difference and cultural conflict.

Students explore the theme ‘colonisation and its aftermath’ in reference to the two texts and examine how the writers use and adapt language, create form and structure as well as investigating the idea and features of the genre.

 

A level

PoetryDramaProseCoursework

Poems of the Decade (An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2002–2011) offers students an eclectic mix of contemporary prize-winning poetry to pore over by familiars such as Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney and Andrew Motion and less conventional poets as Tim Turnbull, Daljit Nagra, George Szirtes and Patience Agbabi.

Students will examine poetic form, content and meaning, analysing links and connections between the poems and exploring a variety of themes from violence and danger to fear and love.

The Romantics – English Romantic verse, ed. David Wright
Students explore the style, form and central themes of English Romantic poets from the eighteenth century onwards including Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Clare and Keats, and consider the wider social, political, cultural and historical contexts in which the poems were written and received.

Measure for Measure, Shakespeare
Claudio falls victim to Vienna’s harsh new vice laws and is sentenced to death for getting his fiancee Julietta pregnant. A web of deceit, revenge and moral duplicity begin to grow when his virtuous sister attempts to get him pardoned.

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
When fading southern belle Blanche DuBois stays with her sister Stella in a boisterous corner of New Orleans her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella’s violent husband Stanley Kowalski. Her fragile sense of identity begins to crumble threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.

Tennessee Williams was born in Mississippi in 1911. He is a highly celebrated, Pultizer Prize winning playwright.

Students explore form and the use of literary and dramatic devices in shaping meanings. They will also analyse the significance and influence of contextual factors (social, cultural, political and historical) and engage with different interpretations of the plays.

Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
Marlow recounts his physical and psychological journey, in the heart of the African continent, in search of the infamous and unscrupulous ivory trader Kurtz. His quest leads him to radically question not only his own nature and values but also those of western civilisation.

Conrad’s classic novel explores the limits of human experience and nightmarish realities of imperialism. Heart of Darkness was the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film Apocalypse Now.

A Passage to India E.M. Forster
Determined to escape the insular ‘Anglo-Indian’ enclave of Chandrapore Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore head for the ‘real India’ guided by the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz. But a mysterious incident soon finds the respected doctor at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects.

E.M. Forster (1879-1970) was an English novelist who explored class difference and cultural conflict.

Students explore the theme ‘colonisation and its aftermath’ in reference to the two texts and examine how the writers use and adapt language, create form and structure as well as investigating the idea and features of the genre.

Students choose two complete texts, not previously studied, that may be linked by theme, movement, author or period and can be selected from poetry, drama, prose or literary non-fiction. The coursework is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Who teaches the course?

Arabella Bridge

BA Hons English Literature (Open University); PGCE (Sussex University)

Arabella has been at the heart of Ashbourne’s thriving English Department for more than ten years and has been teaching for more than twenty. She loves theatre and, not surprisingly, is an avid reader.

James Wykes

Assistant Director of Studies and Head of Faculties
MA Modern Literatures in English (Birkbeck); BA Hons English Literature (University of Wales); PGCE in English (King’s College London)

James leads Ashbourne’s flourishing English Department and has been instrumental in establishing both English and Drama as vital parts of the college’s curriculum. He has helped set up and is involved in a variety of very successful enrichment projects that encourage students to take the lead role in their learning and explore differing perspectives to interpret the world around them, including the student-run college newspaper, a series of critical theory lectures and the very popular Ashbourne Annual Revue showcasing students’ artistic talents.

Lauren Vanderhurst

MA English: Issues in Modern Culture (University College London); BA Hons English Literature (University of California, Santa Barbara);
PGCE (Institute of Education, UCL)

Lauren’s love and enthusiasm for English inspires her students to find their own passion and embrace all that the subject has to offer. She has played a full and active role in the college’s academic and cultural life since joining in 2014.

Elle Ryan

BA English (Australian Catholic University)

Beyond A level English Literature

With your excellent communication skills, wily use of language and creative flair you could write a block buster novel, set up your own publishing house or online media platform, produce scripts for film, theatre and TV, perform gritty, hard-hitting poetry, go undercover in the world of etymology, teach speech, act on the fringe or hit broadway, create lyrics for pop stars, start a revolution, get on your soapbox, set up global campaigns and much more. Add business acumen and political nous and your career pathways could open even further.

English Literature is a highly regarded A level that can take students onto almost any course of study. It is an obvious choice for English degree courses but is also an excellent option for those considering arts and humanities subjects, languages, business and law.

Textbooks

AS levelA level
Author – Forward Arts Foundation
Web link – Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry

Author – Tennessee Williams
Web link – A Streetcar Named Desire

Author – Joseph Conrad
Web link – Heart of Darkness

Author – E. M. Forster
Web link – A Passage to India

Author – Forward Arts Foundation
Web link – Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry

Author – David Wright, ed.
Web link – English Romantic Verse (Poets)

Author – William Shakespeare
Web link – Measure for Measure: The Oxford Shakespeare

Author – Tennessee Williams
Web link – A Streetcar Named Desire

Author – Joseph Conrad
Web link – Heart of Darkness

Author – E. M. Forster
Web link – A Passage to India