Christian Head, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, CA17 4HA

017683 71693

Kirkby Stephen Grammar School

A Co-operative Academy

A Level Combined English Language and Literature

Eduqas Combined English Language and Literature A-Level

Why study A-Level English Language and Literature?

Study at A Level is an exciting and challenging progression in the life of a young person. We aim to make the transition from GCSE as seamless as possible by beginning the course with a unit to support the move by equipping students with the vocabulary needed to succeed. In the transition from GCSE study, students may worry that the A Level approach differs from a familiar schema of plot, themes, character and setting. In fact, the difference is just a shift in emphasis from WHAT to HOW, from ‘characters’ to ‘characterisation’. They will be studying the familiar aspects but the focus will be on critical analysis, exploring how, for example, a particular perspective shapes the creation of character.  

To give a further example, pupils develop knowledge of linguistic terminologies in KS3/4 and are encouraged to apply this knowledge in textual analysis; during their A Level studies, students will then acquire a broader, more complex linguistic vocabulary and will apply this knowledge in a more sustained, analytical way.  The core concepts of studying English at A Level should, therefore, feel familiar but will undoubtedly open pupils’ perceptions of literature, language, communication and context in new and stimulating ways.

This course builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills established throughout KS4, by developing learners’ abilities to apply and integrate linguistic and literary approaches. Students will refine the techniques of analysis, evaluation and production of texts. In doing so, this A Level provides a suitable foundation for the study of English language and literature or a related area through a range of higher education courses, progression to the next level of vocational qualifications or employment. In addition, the A Level provides a satisfying and worthwhile course of study for learners who do not progress to further study in this subject; students will learn how to craft academic responses, develop evaluative skill, will learn how to ask probing questions, how to explore historical, social and cultural contexts along with developing resilience and critical thinking skills that are transferrable to innumerable future pathways.

What will I be studying?

Language skills – students will refresh the linguistic vocabulary learned in KS4 and add to it through knowledge and practical investigation of new, more sophisticated terminologies.

Students will gain knowledge of the following:

  • phonetics, phonology, prosody
  • lexis and semantics
  • grammar including morphology
  • pragmatics
  • discourse.

Students will be taught how to articulately apply knowledge of linguistic terminologies to support interpretations and perceptions of literary and non-literary texts. This approach is central to every element of study on the course.

Prose studies – students will explore Ian McEwan’s Atonement through literary and linguistic frameworks. They will begin to develop an appreciation of literary movements through history, exploring Modernist traditions before developing an understanding of the concept of Post-Modernism through a study of the structure of the novel. They will examine how McEwan constructs character, how he uses perspective as a driver for narrative and will also explore his treatment of themes such as age, gender, memory, war and betrayal. Students will engage with wider reading including critical perspectives and will develop a contextual understanding of the pre-war setting and the social and historical implications of WWII.

In addition, pupils will study a non-fiction text, applying the same literary and linguistic approaches to its analysis. Depending on the interests of the group, students might study Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth or Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Both texts, at times harrowing and at times illuminating, provide a fascinating insight into another time and another place – students will develop appreciation of the literary presentation of ‘truth’ as well as empathy for the challenges facing families and communities.

Poetry – students will study a range of poetry from the late 16th century to 1914. The anthology of poems is designed to introduce learners to the historical development of the English language, the rich heritage of writing poetry, as well as illustrating the variation in poetic content and style over time. Pupils will apply analytical frameworks familiar from KS3 and KS4 but will enhance their knowledge of linguistic devices in order to approach poetry in a more forensic fashion. They will also, explore the macro, studying the rich contextual factors influencing each poem; students will build on their knowledge of literary timelines, linking literary movements to prior knowledge of our British literary heritage.

Post-19th Century Drama – students study either Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams or Alan Bennett’s History Boys. While learners will engage critically with the texts as works of literature, this component also offers opportunities for exploring the richness of the English language and its historical development set within the context of when the text/s were produced and received. Building on knowledge encountered in KS4, students will need to build on their knowledge of dramatic techniques, their skills as interpreters of performance texts and their understanding of significant contextual factors.

Shakespeare – here, our students explore the play, Much Ado About Nothing, examining the conventions of Shakespearian comedy. Students will build upon prior knowledge of literary and linguistic methods to analyse ways in which Shakespeare shapes meanings in the chosen play including the function and effects of structure, form and language, explore the play informed by different interpretations and consider different interpretations across time. Pupils will develop their critical vocabulary, exploring rhythm and metre in more complex and illuminating ways.

Spoken language -  students apply linguistic frameworks to transcripts of speech to enable them to expose and explore speakers’ underlying meanings, attitudes and agendas. Building on their KS4 knowledge of rhetoric and persuasion, they will analyse talk throughout contemporary times, ranging from Winston Churchill’s famous speeches to sections of David Attenborough’s commentary on the rainforests to transcripts of teenage chat.

Coursework – here, pupils will be supported to shape their own lines of enquiry into an independent academic study of texts from either dystopian fiction or the Gothic genre. They will employ all of the methods of investigation taught across the course to allow them to compare writer’s methods. An immensely rewarding unit, students will learn how to channel their own interests and how to realise their own talents as writers as they also produce pieces of fiction and non-fiction original writing.

For more information on what studying English at A Level can do for you, contact Ms Newstead.