English Literature

Subject Intent: Why English Literature?

The English Literature curriculum acts as a gateway for helping students to engage with world issues, debate related concepts and to appreciate how different audiences can react to the same material. This helps to prepare students for successfully navigating their way through contemporary society. It enables students to develop a better understanding of the world we live in through the eyes of a wide range of authors, their characters and the contexts within which they write. Understanding of the impact of history, society and culture on literary texts is integral to the course.  The studying of texts will also provide students with a sustained and deep understanding of English Literature as a tradition and how it has changed over time, through the exploration of pre-1900 texts, including Shakespeare’s Othello and one post-2000 text. The texts studied encompass drama, prose and poetry. Overall, English Literature provides students with the opportunity to explore current topics, widens their understanding of the world in which they live and provides opportunities to further develop cultural capital.

What will I study ?

You will engage critically and creatively with a substantial body of texts, including:

• Othello by William Shakespeare
• A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
• Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
• The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
• An anthology of modern poetry to compare with unseen poetry
• A collection of poems by John Keats

The course is assessed through the combination of three exam papers and coursework. The coursework requires you to write an extended essay of around 2500 words comparing two literary texts of your own choosing. This is worth 20% of the qualification.


“Choosing English Literature at New College, was the best decision! It is a subject that has allowed me to express so many of my opinions with my peers, as well as open my mind to new ideas related to societal issues happening today. It is a great subject for broadening your knowledge on history, and the world around us. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Meredith Duffy Outwood Academy Danum

What are the entry requirements?
Please refer to our Course Specific Entry Requirements table here