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Why study English?

English, with its combination of technical and creative elements, is a particularly rewarding A-level subject. Pupils in the Senior College enjoy close analysis, wider reading and most importantly, healthy debate.  Discussion of literature ranges broadly across historical, political, philosophical, moral and psychological issues. We study literature as a means of questioning our deepest held beliefs, whilst also allowing us to empathise with situations and states of mind we are yet to encounter so that when we do face them we are all the better prepared.

What will I study? How will I be assessed?

At Queen's, we use the Cambridge International A-level syllabus. The two-year course is varied, flexible and covers a stimulating range of texts; you will study seven texts, plus a selection of unseen extracts, which will be examined in four exams at the end of the II Senior year. Please note that the set texts change frequently.

For the first module you will study a play (options include ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ by Tennessee Williams), as well as selected poetry by William Blake or Maya Angelou.

The second module focuses on prose and unseen extracts. Novels that you might study include ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan or ‘The Inheritance Loss’ by Kiran Desai. As well as this, you will also explore a wide variety of unseen extracts from prose, poetry and drama.

The third module covers Shakespeare (‘The Merchant of Venice or Hamlet') and a twentieth century play such as ‘Long Day's Journey’ by Eugene O'Neill. You will also be required to evaluate a range of critical opinions on each text.

For the fourth module, you will study a pre-1900 text (options include poetry by John Donne and Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' ) as well as a post-1900 text, such as poetry by Sujata Bhatt or ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison. You will be studying one prose text and one poetry text. This module also requires you to evaluate a range of critical opinions on each text.

You will be in a small, informal class, where there will be plenty of opportunities to express your own ideas and discuss things vigorously.

You will be encouraged to read widely beyond the set books and to attend Literary Society meetings; there will also be many opportunities to go to the theatre and to attend lectures and exhibitions outside school.

What skills will I gain? Where can English Literature lead?

English is one of the most popular university subjects. While it obviously leads to careers in arts and the media, it is also much valued by admissions tutors for science and medicine. Every career path requires fluency in language, as well as an interest in people and their relationships.

English students are taught to think analytically, consider different interpretations and to listen and respond to one another sensitively.