Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment


Useful Downloads

(PDF), Last Updated: 18 August 2015
For first teaching from September 2008. For first award of AS Level in Summer 2009. For first award of A Level in Summer 2010. Subject Code: 5110

Related Circulars

English Language, English Literature and English Update (S/IF/132/11)
(PDF), Last Updated: 12 January 2012

Update (From previous specification) (S/IF/34/11)
(PDF), Last Updated: 10 March 2011

GCE English Literature (S/IF/80/09)
(PDF), Last Updated: 23 September 2009

A2 2 Section A paper (S/IF/15/14)
(PDF), Last Updated: 26 March 2014

The GCE English Literature specification is made up of two parts: AS and A2. Students may take the AS as a ‘stand alone’ qualification without progression to A2. However, to gain the full GCE, students need to complete both the AS and the A2 courses.

The AS 1, AS 2, A2 1 and A2 2 units are as follows:

AS 1: The Study of Drama - Internal Assessment

Section A: The Study of Shakespeare

Students study one of the following texts:

  • Henry IV Part I
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • The Tempest
  • As You Like It
  • Richard II

Section B: The Study of a Twentieth Century Dramatist

Students study two plays by one of the following post-1900 dramatists:

  • Edward Albee
  • Alan Bennett
  • Caryl Churchill
  • Brian Friel
  • Arthur Miller
  • Sean O’Casey
  • Harold Pinter
  • Peter Shaffer
  • Tom Stoppard
  • Timberlake Wertenbaker
  • Tennessee Williams

AS 2: The Study of Poetry Written after 1800 and The Study of Prose 1800 - 1945

Section A: The Study of Poetry Written after 1800

Students study a set of paired texts by one of the following paired poets:

  • Hopkins and Dickinson
  • Duffy and Lochhead
  • Heaney and Montague
  • Thomas (E) and Frost
  • Yeats and Kavanagh

Section B: The Study of Prose 1800 – 1945

Students study one of the following texts:

  • Jane Austen: Mansfield Park
  • Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
  • E.M. Forster: A Passage to India
  • Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South
  • Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge

A2 1: The Study of Poetry – 1300-1800 and Drama

Section A: Poetry from 1300-1800

Students study one of the following texts:

  • Chaucer: The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale
  • Donne: Selected Poems
  • Pope: The Rape of the Lock
  • Goldsmith: Selected Poems

Section B: Drama

Students study one of the following sets of paired texts:


  • Johnson: Volpone
  • Sheridan : The School for Scandal

Historical Drama

  • Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral
  • Bolt: A Man for all Seasons

Drama of Social Realism

  • Isben: A Doll’s House
  • Osborne: Look Back in Anger


  • Shakespeare: King Lear
  • Heaney: Burial at Thebes (Sophocles’ Antigone translated by Seamus Heaney)

A2 2: The Study of Prose – theme based

Section A: Close analysis of an extract from a post-1990 novel

Students must closely analyse an extract from one of the following novels. The themes appear in bold:


  • Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried

Women in Society

  • Jennifer Johnston: The Illusionist

The Outsider

  • Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy


  • Roddy Doyle: Paddy Clarke Ha-Ha-Ha

Section B: Comparison of two novels on the same theme as that chosen for Section A

Students compare two novels from the selection of three for each theme:


  • Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage
  • Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage
  • Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell to Arms
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five

Women in Society

  • Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
  • Jean Rhys: The Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Alice Walker: The Colour Purple

The Outsider

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  • Albert Camus: The Outsider
  • JD Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye


  • Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Toni Morrison: A Bluest Eye
  • JG Ballard: Empire of the Sun

More information is available in the specification.