Skip to content ↓

English Literature

Mission statement 

Challenging students to become independent, creative, ambitious language users and thoughtful communicators

The document below allows you to see when topics may be covered; this is a guide for information only and has the potential to change as the year progresses.

Curriculum Map

Paper 1: Literary Genres

What's assessed

Choice of two options
Option 1A: Aspects of tragedy
Option 1B: Aspects of comedy

Study of three texts: one Shakespeare text; a second drama text and one further text, of which one must be written pre-1900

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Closed book
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A-level


Section A: one passage-based question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks)
Section B: one essay question on set Shakespeare text (25 marks)
Section C: one essay question linking two texts (25 marks) 

Paper 2: Texts and genres

Choice of two options
Option 2A: Elements of crime writing
Option 2B: Elements of political and social protest writing

Study of three texts: one post-2000 prose text; one poetry and one further text, one of which must be written pre-1900

Examination will include an unseen passage.


  • Written exam: 3 hours
  • Open book
  • 75 marks
  • 40% of A-level


Section A: one compulsory question on an unseen passage (25 marks)
Section B: one essay question on set text (25 marks)
Section C: one essay question which connects two texts (25 marks)

Non-exam assessment: Theory and independence

What's assessed

Study of two texts: one poetry and one prose text, informed by study of the Critical Anthology

Two essays of 1250–1500 words, each responding to a different text and linking to a different aspect of the Critical anthology
One essay can be re-creative. The re-creative piece will be accompanied by a commentary.


• 50 marks
• 20% of A-level
• Assessed by teachers; moderated by AQA

Aspects of tragedy 

At the core of all the set texts is a tragic hero or heroine who is flawed in some way, who suffers and causes suffering to others and in all texts there is an interplay between what might be seen as villains and victims. Some tragic features will be more in evidence in some texts than in others and students will need to understand how particular aspects of the tragic genre are used and how they work in the four chosen texts. The absence of an ‘aspect’ can be as significant as its presence.

4.2.2 Elements of political and social protest writing 

Although it could be claimed that all texts are political, what defines the texts here is that they have issues of power and powerlessness at their core, with political and social protest issues central to each text’s structure. The political and social protest genre covers representations of both public and private settings. All set texts foreground oppression and domination and they all look at the cultures we live in and have lived in over time. A crucial word in the title of this option is ‘Elements’ and students need to consider the specific elements that exist in each of their texts. 

5.2 Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all AS and A-level English Literature specifications and all exam boards. The exams and non-exam assessment will measure to what extent students have achieved the following AOs:

  • AO1: Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression.
  • AO2: Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts.
  • AO3: Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received.
  • AO4: Explore connections across literary texts.
  • AO5: Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations

English at St Mary’s is an enjoyable experience. From Year 7, teachers encourage you to learn in a variety of ways, from group discussion to independent research. The topics and texts studied are engaging, whilst also helping to build understanding of the wider world, which helps us to draw links with topics studied in other subjects. The teachers are welcoming, approachable, supportive and with you every step of the way. English lessons always challenge us and cater for different learning styles. We are always encouraged to be ambitious and get the most out of our time in the English classroom. 

 - Year 12 student