Subject Overview

English Literature and Language are compulsory subjects at KS4 and these 2 GCSEs are delivered in 8 English lessons a fortnight. From the start of Year 10, all lessons are focused on the exam texts and techniques that the students will need to hone by the end of Year 11 for their examinations.

Syllabuses (Course Outline and Structure)

Over two years, all students will be covering the requirements for GCSE Language and GCSE Literature under the AQA syllabus. All assessment will be terminal, meaning students will be sitting all of their externally assessed exams at the end of Year 11.


Paper 1: Exploration in creative reading and writing 50% of English Language grade Section A – 4 reading questions on an unseen literary extract.

Section B – choice of two creative writing tasks.

Paper 2: Writer’s viewpoints and perspectives 50% of English Language grade Section A – 4 reading questions on 2 unseen extracts (1 non-fiction and other 19th century literary non-fiction).

Section B – producing a written text to a specified audience, purpose and form.


GCSE ENGLISH LITERATURE (all closed book exams)

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th century novel 50% of English Literature grade Section A (Macbeth) – Character/s or theme based question, where students will be encouraged to start with an extract, then expand their knowledge out to the whole text.

Section B (Shakespeare) – Similarly to section A, the question will be based on character/s or theme, with an extract provided as a starting point.

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry 50% of English Literature grade Section A (Modern Texts) – Choice of two essay questions on studied text, with no extract provided. The questions will be based on character or theme.

Section B (AQA anthology poetry) – Comparison question on studied poems with 1 of the poems being provided in the paper.

Section C (unseen poetry) – with 2 unseen poems and 2 questions, the first question will be on one unseen poem and the second requires a comparison of both.


Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th century novel


‘Macbeth’ by William Shakeapeare AND EITHER… ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens OR… ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson OR… ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry EITHER… ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J.B. Priestley OR… ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell OR… ‘Never Let me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro OR… ‘Pigeon English’ by Stephen Kelman AND… AQA ‘Past and present: poetry anthology’ (‘Love and relationships’ section)

Links to Downloadable Specifications

Entry Requirements and Prohibited Options

GCSE English Language and Literature is compulsory for all students.

Activities and Trips

We usually like to provide opportunities and arrange for students to see theatrical versions of the plays or novels they are studying. For instance, this year we have arranged for a theatre company to perform their own version of J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ here at Heart of England.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

Drama: helps students to gain understanding and insight of dramatic technique and builds their confidence as public speakers.

History: allows students to understand the importance of context, which is particularly helpful when studying Victorian Literature, ‘An Inspector Calls’ (Pre WW1 and post WW2 era Britain), poetry from different eras, ‘Animal Farm’ (Russian Revolution) and ‘Macbeth’ (King James I, gunpowder plot, belief in witches).

Science: assists in the grasp of scientific concepts and developments which form part of the context of the following texts that may be studied: ‘Never Let Me Go’, ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘Frankenstein’.

Subject Resources

Knowledge Organisers

Knowledge organisers developed by the department are available and provide a centre of knowledge as well as some of the key terminology required for each text or exam unit being studied.

Recommended Reading

In order for students to succeed in their English exams and release their best potential, we require them to be widely read and develop healthy reading habits outside the classroom; please refer to the selection of dystopian, bildungsroman and adventure novels being recommended as additional literature to that being studied as part of the course.

Past Papers

At present, there are no past papers available from AQA.