Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

Course Content

This course is designed for students with a passion for both creative writing and reading. You will learn the craft of writing and become skilled at both analysing texts and creating your own. You will explore how writers create their own distinctive voices. You will learn the technical ways in which writers use the different levels of language, from the building blocks of grammar and word choices, right up to the ways in which they craft and shape whole texts. You will also develop an understanding of how writing and speech are influenced by the contexts of the time in which they were produced. English Language and Literature is for you if you want to learn to read like a writer and write like a reader. 

Methods of Teaching

Lessons will be a mixture of dynamic classroom discussion, reading and writing activities. Much of the learning will also take place in your own independent study time, with plenty of options for enrichment and extension activities such as writing and reading groups, daily workshops, competitions and trips. 

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

The course is 80% examination and 20% coursework.  90% of the assessed writing is analytical essays and 10% is creative writing. 

The first component is Poetry and Prose and is assessed through a two hour exam worth 30% 

  • Poetry. You will study a wide range of pre 1914 poetry and prepare to analyse it in comparison to an unseen modern text.  
  • Prose. You will read and closely analyse 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker. You will look at the way in which the precise language choices in the novel are intrinsically linked to its powerful and emotional themes. 

The second component is Drama and is assessed through a two hour exam worth 30% of the A Level.

  • Shakespeare. You will study 'King Lear'. This is one of Shakespeare's most performed tragedies. In particular, you will look at the way the script draws on both poetry and the patterns of everyday speech. 
  • Post-1900 Drama. You will study 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' by Tennessee Williams. 

The third component is Non-Literary Texts and is assessed through a two hour exam worth 20%

  • Spoken Language. You will study speech and conversation theory and apply it to a wide range of transcripts and scripted materials such as radio shows and political speeches, as well as everyday conversations. You will look at the messages speakers give (sometimes inadvertantly) through their grammatical and lexical choices, but also through their speed, fluency and conversational habits. 
  • Non-Literary text. You will read and analyse 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote. This is one of the first exampes of a journalistic novel or true-crime.

The fourth component is the Critical and Creative Genre Study. This is coursework and is worth 20%. In this unit you will pick a genre of writing from the following: Science Fiction, Dystopia, The Outsider, War and Conflict, Gothic, Romance and Crime. You will read and study two novels written in this genre. You will then write three pieces as a result.

Where Could It Take Me?

A level English Language and Literature can lead to a very wide range of courses at university, including English Literature, Linguistics, Creative Writing, Journalism, PR, Media, Film, Politics and Sociology. The subject provides excellent skills for careers in fiction writing, screenwriting, journalism, TV, advertising, marketing, media, PR, drama, teaching, social media, management, business and so on.

Financial Implications

Students will be expected to buy their own texts; three in the first year and two in the second (about £25).  The college has a Student Support Fund for those students who have difficulty meeting these costs.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Mathematics and English.

Most Recent Results

Below is a summary of the most recent set of results for this subject:

Grade: A* A B C D E U Total
Total: 5 12 27 34 10 0 1 89
Percentage 5.6 13.5 30.3 38.2 11.2 0.0 1.1