GCSE English Literature

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GCSE English Literature

English Literature GCSE

Few subjects inspire and induce personal creativity like English Literature.  The study of some of the finest pieces of English Literature will show you how we make sense of the world through stories in the form of novels, poetry or plays.

During our course, you will have the opportunity to explore a range of literary interests.

You will learn

  • to read a wide range of classic literature fluently  and make connections across your reading
  • to read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so you are able to discuss and explain your understanding and ideas
  • to appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage
  • to write accurately, effectively and analytically about your reading, using Standard English
  • to acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literary and linguistic terms needed
    to criticise and analyse what you have read.

The Course

The Oxford Open Learning English Literature GCSE course is divided into six modules and 22 lessons in all. It is set out as follows:

Literary Analysis

  • Writing about Yourself
  • Comparing Different Versions of an Event
  • Imagery and Setting
  • Character
  • Point of View

Essay Technique

  • Persuasion
  • Paragraphing
  • Planning Essays
  • Argument

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

  • Studying Shakespeare
  • Acts I and II
  • Acts III, IV and V
  • Characters and Themes

J.B. Priestley: An Inspector Calls

  • Act One and Characters
  • Act Two and Structure
  • Act Three and Language
  • Themes of the Play

Unseen Texts and Poetry Anthology

  • Analysing Poems
  • Anthology Worksheets 1-15

 Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  • The Plot of Frankenstein
  • Mary Shelley and the Gothic Novel
  • Characters and Themes
  • More on Themes

Paper 1:

1 hr 45 mins, 40% of marks Section A: Shakespeare: students will answer one question on their play of choice. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the play and then to write about the play as a whole.  Our choice: Romeo and Juliet. Section B The 19th-century novel: will answer one question on their novel of choice. They will be required to write in detail about an extract from the novel and then to write about the novel as a whole.   Our choice is Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.

Paper 2

2 hrs 15 mins, 60% of marks Section A: Modern texts: students will answer one essay question from a choice of two on their studied modern prose or drama text. Our choice is J.B. Priestley: An Inspector Calls. 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. Students will study one cluster of poems taken from the AQA poetry anthology, Poems Past and Present. There is a choice of two clusters, each containing 15 poems. The poems in each cluster are thematically linked and were written between 1789 and the present day. The titles of the two clusters are:

  • Love and relationships
  • Power and conflict.

Students should study all 15 poems and be prepared to write about any of them in the examination.  Our English Literature GCSE course will cover the Power and Conflict cluster.


The new AQA GCSE English Literature (8702) will prepare students for exams from June 2020. This course has been chosen because it is very suitable for distance learning in having no coursework component.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Both qualifications are level 2 qualifications of the same standard. Both are recognised by Colleges of Further Education as a suitable preparation for further study. The IGCSE is accredited by Edexcel and can be both studied and examined from abroad.  The GCSE is accredited by AQA and can be studied from abroad but students will need to be in England in order to sit the exam.

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