Sixth Form: English Language


Just think about it: language is woven into every aspect of our lives. You may be woken up by the voice of the news presenter and register the headline about Trump’s latest conundrum. You go on to take a shower and the ‘cosy-chatty-witty’ label on your shampoo makes you smile. On the way to school the slogan on a new billboard catches your eye. You notice the sign in your favourite coffee shop and wonder when words like ‘frappuccino’ and ‘babyccino’ were first invented. You absent-mindedly glance at the leaflet about an exhibition that was just pushed in your hands. As you approach the school gates, you hear your mates sharing a saucy story before suddenly changing their topic and tone when they see the biology teacher appearing from round the corner

The way language subconsciously influences our thinking is also of huge significance in the political arena. Think about how your reactions may change if you hear a story about political refugees or – changing the frame – of immigrants “flooding” or “swamping” the country, or taking it even further, referring to people like ‘animals’. Clearly, the labels we use will influence what we believe to be true and real: in the previous example whether we perceive immigration as a cause or as a threat.

By studying language in depth, you will develop critical awareness and gain invaluable skills for your future working life – vital communication, analytical and critical skills. But importantly, such critical awareness will allow you to be a conscious, critical human being who is able to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions, understand the role of language in social control, propaganda and manipulation, and be able to use this understanding to make the world a less oppressive, more equal and just place.

Entry Requirements

  • Grade 5 or higher in English Language


English Language Course Units

The A level consists of two exams and two pieces of non-examined work (course work).

Paper 1

  • Exploring Language  2hours 30 minutes  80 marks  40%
  • Section A: Language under the Microscope:20 marks, 2 questions, both to be answered.  Unseen written text analysis. 40 minutes
  • Section B: Writing about a topical language issue, 24 marks, issue based and original writing for real-world audience, no more than 500 words. 45 minutes
  • Section C: Comparing and contrasting texts, 36 marks, two unseen texts (one spoken), compare modes of texts.  15 minutes to read and prepare texts and 50 minutes to write response.

Paper 2

  • Dimensions of Linguistic Variation  2hours 30 minutes  80 marks  40%
  • Section A: Child language acquisition, 20 marks, analyse spoken language transcription of a child 0 – 7 age range.  40 minutes
  • Section B: Language in the media, 24 marks, multi-modal text, they may consider language and power, language and gender and language and technology. 45 minutes
  • Section C: Language change, 36 marks, comparing two different texts from different times (1600s to present day) 1 hour 5 minutes

Non-examined Assessment

  • Section A: Independent Investigation – we MUST submit all task titles to OCR, 2000-2500 words, excluding data/appendices. 30 marks
  • Section B:Academic Poster – same topic as investigation, for display at an undergraduate conference on English. 750-1000 words 10 marks
  • Moderated by OCR

Activities and Trips

There will be opportunities to take part in Study Workshops at local Universities and attend other relevant events as they come up.

Expected Costs

English Language students are encouraged to purchase their own core text book, so that they can be annotated for examination preparation.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

English Language A Level is often studied in conjunction with other Arts-based subjects or Social Sciences. Popular combinations include: Sociology, Psychology, Media, English Literature, and History, though it is increasingly common to see English Language combined with a Science or Modern Foreign Language.

English Language can be studied at degree level and can lead to careers in journalism, the media, public relations, HR, marketing and law.

Subject Resource

This course would appeal to you if:

  • You enjoy reading a wide range of spoken and written texts.
  • You are curious about the world.
  • You relish debate, discussion and analysis.
  • You would like to pursue a career in communication, marketing, journalism, the law, HR
  • You are creative and would like the opportunity to enhance your creative writing.
  • You are inquisitive about how children acquire language, how language has evolved or how gender might affect the way we communicate.