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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

English Literature

All students will study the AQA GCSE qualifications in both English Language and English Literature (two separate GCSEs).

What is English Literature?

The study of English Literature at this level is designed to build on students’ experience of the range of reading already acquired. The course involves the study of novels, plays and poetry from a range of historical periods, all originating from the British Isles. Students are encouraged to develop their skills as perceptive and critical readers, and clear, focused writers. Texts are studied from a modern perspective and are also placed within their social and historical contexts.

Throughout the two-year course students will study:

  • A 19th Century Novel
  • A Collection of Poetry from 1789 onwards (AQA Power and Conflict Anthology)
  • A Shakespeare Play
  • 20th Century Fiction from the British Isles (Play or Prose)

Students will demonstrate their understanding of all of the texts studied, exploring themes, ideas and the writer’s craft (use of language, structure and literary devices).


  Year 10 Year 11
Aut.1 Language Paper 1 Shakespeare  (Literature)
Aut.2 Modern Text (Literature) 19th-century novel (Literature)
Spr.1 Power & Conflict poetry (Literature) Revision
Spr.2 Language Paper 2 Revision
Sum.1 Unseen Poetry (Literature) Revision
Sum.2 Spoken Language  


How is it assessed?

100% Examination

At the end of Year 11, students will sit two exam papers for English Literature, totalling 4 hours of examination.  Both examinations will be ‘closed book’ assessments meaning that students will not be able to take copies of texts into the exams with them.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel (40%)

  • Section A: Shakespeare
  • Section B: 19th Century Novel

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry (60%)

  • Section A: Modern Texts
  • Section B: Comparative Poetry
  • Section C: Unseen Poetry

5% of the total marks will be awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Career Pathways 

What does it lead to?

In addition to leading to further study in English Literature, this course is a valuable preparation for study in a range of subjects: Humanities, Foreign Languages and any essay based subject. Some further education courses may value or require a good pass in English Literature.

For more information click on our A Level Courses in English Language and Literature and English Literature.

Career Options

English is useful for all jobs as it helps you develop important analysis and written communication skills. Most employers always say they want people with good English skills.

If you enjoy English you could use your creative and analytical skills to work in a huge range of different career areas. 

If you are interested in the Arts and like reading, media, the theatre or events, there are lots of opportunities in broadcasting, publishing and arts management. 

If you like debating and putting together persuasive arguments you may enjoy law, politics and government or business roles. English combines well with all subjects.

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