Why Study English Language?

By studying GCSE English Language, you will develop your critical thinking and creativity; both are valuable skills which will help you succeed with any career path you choose. English Language also helps you to comprehend and communicate your understanding of the world around you effectively which, again, is a critical tool for real life.

Course Content & Development of Expertise

COMPONENT 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

  • Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 50% of qualification

Section A (25%) – Reading

Understanding of one prose extract (about 60-100 lines) of literature from the 20th century assessed through a range of structured questions that test understanding of language, structure and evaluation.

Section B (25%) – Prose Writing

One descriptive or narrative writing task.

COMPONENT 2: Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives

  • Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 50% of qualification

Section A (25%) – Reading

Understanding of two extracts (about 900-1200 words in total) of one non-fiction text and one literary non-fiction text, assessed through a range of structured questions.

Section B (25%) – Writing

1 Extended non-fiction writing task.

COMPONENT 3: Spoken Language

Non-exam assessment- Unweighted

One presentation/speech, including responses to questions and feedback

Career Pathways with English Language

Colleges and employers often require at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English Language. The subject of English is held in high regard due to its ability to develop integral skills which are transferable to any workplace. Therefore, performing well in English will give you the best opportunities in life. Individuals who have studied English Language in further education have gone on to establish successful careers in areas as diverse as teaching, business management, HR, finance, journalism, marketing and PR and communications.

Why Study English Literature?

In GCSE English Literature, you will study texts which will not only develop you culturally but develop you into a well-rounded individual. You will read texts that have remained popular due to their engaging stories, discuss themes about the nature of being human and investigate intriguing characters. Studying literature develops your understanding of society now and the society of the past and how words are powerfully used to communicate messages and ideas for centuries.

Course Content & Development of Expertise

COMPONENT 1: Shakespeare and Poetry

Written examination: 1hr 45 minutes: 40% of qualification

Section A (20%) Shakespeare

  • Students will answer one question on their play. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole. Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar.

Section B (20%) The 19th-Century Novel:

  • Students will answer one question on their novel. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens Great Expectations, Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Sign of Four

COMPONENT 2: Post-1914 Prose/ Drama, 19th Century Prose and Unseen Poetry

Written examination: 2 hours and 15 minutes: 60% of qualification

  • Section A Modern Texts:

Students will answer one essay question from a choice of two on their studied modern prose or drama text.

JB Priestley An Inspector Calls, Willy Russell Blood Brothers, Alan Bennett The History Boys, Dennis Kelly DNA, Simon Stephens The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play script), Shelagh Delaney A Taste of Honey

Prose: William Golding Lord of the Flies, AQA Anthology Telling Tales George Orwell Animal Farm, Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go, Meera Syal Anita and Me, Stephen Kelman Pigeon English

  • Section B Poetry:

Students will answer one comparative question on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem from their chosen anthology cluster.

  • Section C Unseen Poetry:

Students will answer one question on one unseen poem and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.

In preparing for the unseen poetry section of the examination students should experience a wide range of poetry in order to develop their ability to closely analyse unseen poems.  

Career Pathways with English Literature

English Literature teaches many of the same skills delivered in our subject of English Language meaning that the skills you will learn will be transferable, valuable to any career path you may choose and provide you with endless opportunities. Students who have gone on to study English Literature in further education have gained careers in the local government and the civil service, business, teaching, HR, marketing and law.

Qualification Information

Compulsory Subject

GCSE English Language
GCSE English Literature

Awarding Body: AQA

Assessment Structure

GCSE English Language:

  • is 100% examination;
  • will assess spoken language skills – but this will not contribute to the final grade
  • will allocate 20% of the marks for the written exams to accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar;
  • is un-tiered;
  • is fully linear with assessments available in the summer

GCSE English Literature:

  • is assessed by examination only
  • is un-tiered
  • is linear, with assessment in the summer series
  • requires the study of whole texts
  • will allocate 5% of the total marks to accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • will allocate 20-25% of the total marks for tasks which require learners to perform comparison across texts