A Level English Literature is a popular course with consistently excellent results over the years.

At all levels the classroom experience is challenging, and will bring students into contact with a demanding range of written texts. Whatever students read, they are encouraged to approach it in a critical manner, and to work through complex thematic, social and literary issues. Activities are designed to give students the confidence to generate personal, creative responses and to develop their own voices as critics.

About the Curriculum

The two years of Sixth Form study are intended to introduce students to a broad range of literary texts, contexts and critical approaches, with the ultimate aim of providing them with the best possible preparation for their terminal examination, the OCR A Level in English Literature.

Studying English Literature at A Level is a rigorous intellectual activity. The course provides the opportunity to read examples of work in all three of the major genres written from the time of Chaucer to today. Students learn to become critical readers, and to look carefully at the language and literary forms with which writers express their ideas. Furthermore, students come to see that literature is produced within a social, intellectual and historical context. Critical works are also considered. Alongside the development of reading skills, importance is placed on the improvement of written communication. Students are required to write with clarity and cogency, marshalling critical detail within an argumentative structure.

Learning approach

The A Level exam tests pupils’ breadth of knowledge as well as their depth of knowledge with regards to specific examination texts. Consequently, from the first day of the course, pupils are exposed to as wide a range of literary forms as possible.

In addition to this, pupils regularly engage in independent research and present their findings to their peers and teachers. Developing pupils’ research skills and their ability to sift and select information is a vital part of the course. Sixth Form students of English have a sophisticated understanding of the workings of both the library and the eLibrary, and make regular and judicious use of resources such as JStor, Questia and The English Review online. The course in English Literature (H472- 03) offers candidates the opportunity to further develop their research skills and bring together the knowledge and understanding they will have gained from their studies.

Relatively small class sizes allow for a seminar-style approach to lessons which serves as an excellent introduction to learning approaches at university level.

All pupils taking A Level English Literature are expected to attend the many theatre trips arranged throughout the Sixth Form, and to read around and beyond the named examination texts.


Pupils are provided with manifold extra-curricular opportunities to engage with literature and language including theatre trips, creative writing classes, poetry and essay competitions, workshops, reading groups and literary excursions. In the last year pupils have enjoyed seeing plays at the Globe, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Chichester Festival Theatre, the Theatre Royal Brighton and the National Theatre; visits to the Charleston literary festival; weekend trips to Stratford upon Avon, involving backstage tours, guided tours of the town and performances of Wilde’s Salomé and Jonson’s Alchemist; and the chance to meet and chat with Sir David Hare OL and Christopher Hampton OL.

The last 12 months have also seen Lancing pupils having their work staged at The Theatre Royal Brighton as part of the TRB’s Young Writers programme, which has featured pupils from the College for each of the five years it has been running.

In addition to all this, Lancing pupils regularly enter creative writing and essay competitions, our most recent success coming in the highly prestigious Thomas Campion Essay Prize, where Lower Sixth Former Eunice A. received a ‘Highly Commended’ from the judges, who placed her in the top five of the 90 plus submissions received.


English Literature A Level is seen as providing excellent training for all careers; close reading of text and written expression are its core skills, and these are recognised as vital in many professional environments. A good grade in English Literature A Level opens the doors to a whole host of undergraduate courses. University admissions officers rightly regard English Literature as an academically demanding subject which teaches students the vital skills of clear, fluent, structured writing, clear thinking, and an attention to language and its effects. Lancing students regularly go on to study English Literature at Oxford, Cambridge and other world class universities.

Perhaps most importantly of all, an enjoyment of literature is something which stays with one for life.