English literature

What is it? It is the study of eight texts from different periods and genres of English literature. Students read novels, plays and poetry from a selection of both the old and the new, which are then looked at critically in the context of the time at which they were written. There is a wide choice of pre-1770 texts, including, of course, Shakespeare, and post-1900 texts.

Why do it? Because you love reading, and you enjoyed those English lessons where you really got to grips with a novel, a play or a poem.

What skills do you need? At least a C at GCSE English, plus application and perseverance for the coursework. At A2-level, you will be doing 2,500-word assignments that need plenty of original thought to get the good marks.

How much practical work is there? None, but you must budget for time to spend reading around the books that are central to your studies to get a sense of the time in which they were written.

Ratio of coursework to exams: At the most, 30 per cent (some courses are examination-only).

Is it hard? It's harder than some people think.

Who takes it? The majority are girls, but a healthy proportion of boys take it, too – around one third.

How cool is it? Pretty cool, because you are reading great books, some of them pretty hip, with some controversial themes, and getting your head around them. Margaret Walker, chief examiner in English Literature for Edexcel, says: "You study things that strike a chord in today's society. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, can raise the subject of the treatment of women by the Taliban, for example."

Added value: Theatre trips, and learning to form opinions and make judgements that you can support – a vital life skill.

What subjects go with it? Just about anything goes with it in the new, broader A-level studies, but history, languages, psychology and English language go particularly well.

What degrees does it lead to? English, linguistics, media and cultural studies, and law are just some of the degrees that it could help you in.

Will it set you up for a brilliant career? It depends on you, really. It is an extremely versatile subject that could take you just about anywhere, although a lot of English graduates do veer towards teaching and journalism. Publishing is another big favourite, so if you discover the next JK Rowling, you'll never have to worry about mortgage interest rates again.

What do the students say? "Literature is always something that I've wanted to study. I learnt to read when I was really young and I'm fascinated by novels," says Charlotte Gray, 17, a pupil at Bromley High School, who is also doing French and business studies at A-level. "The course is just what I expected – all about literature – and I enjoy it very much. I'm looking at the subjugation of women in The Handmaid's Tale for my coursework."

Which awarding bodies offer it? AQA, OCR, Edexcel.

How widely available is it? It's available everywhere.

w.berliner@aol.com

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Voices
voices
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack