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English Literature


Studying English Literature offers us the opportunity to study who we are and the ways we live. It examines the society we live in now, and the past which created it. It questions the ideas and ideals by which we live.

We read, analyse, discuss and write about texts. We study the ways in which writers use and adapt language, form and structure in texts. You will also consider interpretations by different readers over time, as well as how culture and context influences readers and writers. Texts currently studied include the poetry of John Donne, Thomas Hardy and T.S Eliot, Shakespeare's King Lear, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi and Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire as well as Jane Eyre and a range of 21st Century novels and prose from the period 1918-39.

So, if you enjoy reading and discussing interesting and challenging texts, that are of cultural and literary significance and from a range of genres, this will be the course for you. As you progress through the two-year course, your studies will be extended in breadth and depth; developing and enhancing your techniques of analysis, evaluation and comparison of literary works.

PLEASE NOTE: Studying English Literature at Advanced Level is an invitation to engage in and examine critical and theoretical discourse on challenging and sometimes difficult topics, all of which are dealt with intellectually and sensitively. You will also be expected to read at least two novels independently as preparation for study in class and for coursework.

I have greatly enjoyed the way teachers encourage us to develop our own ideas about texts, which at first sight appear opaque, helping us gain an understanding and sensitivity to underlying themes and messages which are hidden in literature.

Rosemary Little

Course Essentials

Courses Available
A Level
Entry Requirements

The ability to read prose work independently is essential.
How The Course is Assessed
80% exam, 20% coursework
Career Pathways
Large numbers of Varndean students go on to take English Literature at university, sometimes in conjunction with subjects like History, Media or Drama. This course is also useful for careers in journalism, media or teaching.
Transferable Skills
Effective communication: oral and written, analysis and critical examination of diverse forms of alternative perspectives; teamwork, independent thought, reflection and judgement.
Other Information
You can also participate in workshops, trips to the theatre, conferences and university visits. There are visits to the College by writers and speakers, workshops in creative writing and the opportunity to become involved in public readings and producing anthologies.
Enquiries To
Catherine Jackson: chj@varndean.ac.uk