GCSE English Literature


GCSE English Literature is a challenging and rewarding subject, which introduces students to a broad range of literary texts including novels, poetry and drama. Students will become critical readers and develop their understanding of ideas, themes and issues and the different ways in which these are conveyed by authors, poets and playwrights. Students are given the opportunity to foster a lifelong enthusiasm for literature and a large number of our students go on to study the subject at A Level.

Why study English Literature?

Studying GCSE English Literature allows students to develop vital analytical and written skills, building their confidence in reading, interpreting and discussing a range of texts. Students in turn broaden their understanding of social and historical contexts, exploring how texts from different cultures may reflect values, assumptions and identity. The study of English Literature at GCSE develops a number of key skills including: essay writing; use of spelling, punctuation and grammar; and independent research skills and presentations.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the EDEXCEL specification for GCSE English Literature.

How many components are there?

There are two components.

What are the components about?

Component 1Component 2

Shakespeare and Post-1914 Literature

Students will examine a Shakespeare play and a post-1914 British play or novel.

19th-century Novel and Poetry since 1789

Students will examine a 19th-century novel and a poetry collection from the Pearson Poetry Anthology.
Students will analyse how the language, form, structure and context of texts can create meanings and effects. Students will develop comparison skills.

How is each component examined?

Component 1Component 2

Students will sit a 1 hour 45 minutes written exam.

The paper is divided into two sections. Section A is a two-part question on the studied Shakespeare play. Section B is one essay question on the set post-1914 play or novel.

80 marks, 50% of GCSE

Students will sit a 2 hour 15 minutes written exam.

The paper is divided into two sections. Section A is a two-part question on the set 19th-century novel. Section B is made up of two questions on poetry.

80 marks, 50% of GCSE

When do the exams take place?

Exams take place in May/June.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Miss Katie Pettitt
(BA English Literature and History of Art (Joint Honours) (Birmingham), MA Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism (Essex), PGCE in Post Compulsory Education and Training (UEL)

Ashbourne College London History of Art teacher - Katie Pettitt


Katie studied English Literature and History of Art at undergraduate level at the University of Birmingham and holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Essex. Katie has held various roles in the arts sector in London, including working for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Anne Thorne Architects and most recently the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). Before teaching at Ashbourne, Katie worked for the International School of Creative Arts (ISCA), the only specialist day and boarding school run in association with University of the Arts London (UAL). She joined Ashbourne in 2012 and now teaches English, History of Art and Media Studies. Katie is passionate about engaging students’ interest and encouraging them to develop their enthusiasm for literature and art history both in and outside the classroom.

Miss Lauren Vanderhurst
(PGCE Post-Compulsory (Institute of Education UCL), MA English: Issues in Modern Culture (UCL), BA Hons English Literature, specialising in Literature and the Mind (University of California Santa Barbara)

Ashbourne College London English Literature teacher - Lauren Vanderhurst

A new addition to Ashbourne, imported from America, Lauren has warmly and enthusiastically embraced the Asher experience. Lauren has worked to inspire students to delve into all that English has to offer, and to ignite a passion for creative analysis. After completing a rigorous undergraduate programme in California, Lauren welcomed the challenge of graduate school in a new country. Through her Master’s degree in Modern English Literature at UCL, Lauren fell in love with London and the prospect of becoming a teacher. A thorough training at the world-renowned Institute of Education and a short stint at a sixth-form college in East London brought her to us in 2014.

Beyond GCSE for English Literature Students

Studies in GCSE English Literature provide a solid foundation not just for an A Level in the subject, but any area of study. The subject will shape students into critical thinkers who are both perceptive and empathetic. It will also instil in students the ability to construct quality written work that is both coherent and fluent.



A View From the Bridge, by Arthur Miller

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare


Animal Farm, by George Orwell

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck