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English Language and English Literature

Students study for two qualifications in English:

  1. AQA English Language (8700)
  • Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing:1 hour 45 minutes
  • Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives: 1 hour 45 minutes
  1. AQA English Literature (8702)
  • Shakespeare and the 19th Century novel: 1hour 45 minutes
  • Modern texts and Poetry: 2 hour 15 minutes

Both courses are assessed by 100% terminal examination sat at the end of Year 11.

More information and sample assessment materials / past papers are available on the AQA website (links below)

The course:

  • 2 years
  • 2 subjects
  • 2 teachers
  • 1 programme of study

GCSE classes are shared between two specialist teachers to enrichen students’ experience of English and offer diverse perspectives on Literature and Language study. The Language and Literature courses are split equally between the two teachers.

The course is creatively structured in a way to best maximise preparation for two-year terminal exam courses. Y10 is a fast-paced introduction to all the core texts and skills with a focus on knowledge, exploration and creativity. Our students (and teachers) enjoy the variety and liveliness of this approach. Y11 revisits the texts and develops skills of synthesis and evaluative analysis with an examination focus.

English Language

Students will learn to:

  • use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing
  • write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately
  • use grammar correctly and punctuate and spell accurately
  • acquire and apply a wide vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • listen to and understand spoken language and use spoken Standard English effectively.

Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing:

Builds students’ understanding of how writers craft descriptive and narrative writing, both in published works of fiction and in their own writing.

  • Reading: 20th and  21st century prose fiction literature texts in order to consider how established writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to capture the interest of readers . Includes extracts from novels and short stories with a focus on openings, endings, narrative perspectives and points of view, narrative or descriptive passages, character, atmospheric descriptions…
  • Writing: original and creative writing to develop narrative and descriptive skills, inspired by and modelled on writers explored in wide reading

Paper 2: Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives

Develops students’ insights into how writers have particular viewpoints and perspectives on issues or themes that are important to the way we think and live our lives. It will encourage students to demonstrate their skills by:

  • Reading: sources from different time periods and genres in order to consider how writers in different time periods present  perspectives or viewpoints to influence the reader. Genres will include high quality journalism, articles, reports, essays, travel writing, accounts, sketches, letters, diaries, autobiography and biographical passages or other appropriate non-fiction and literary non-fiction forms.
  • Writing: developing and presenting own perspectives and viewpoints on a range of issues. Producing   written texts to a variety of audiences, for different purposes and across a range of forms.

Non-exam assessment: Spoken Language Study

This compulsory element does not contribute towards the final English Language grade, but the results will be published separately on the final examination certificate. Presentations will be filmed and a sample sent to AQA.

Students will:

  • give an individual formal presentation to an audience
  • respond appropriately to questions and to feedback.

English Literature

Through literature, students have a chance to develop culturally and acquire knowledge of the best that has been thought and written. Studying GCSE English Literature should encourage students to read widely for pleasure, and as a preparation for studying literature at a higher level.

Students will:

  • read a wide range of classic literature and make connections across their reading
  • read in depth, critically and evaluatively, and discuss their understanding and ideas
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often
  • appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage
  • write accurately, effectively and analytically about their reading
  •  acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literary and linguistic terms they need to criticise and analyse what they read.

At AGS students will study:



William Shakespeare

19th C novel:

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens


An Inspector Calls

J.B Priestley


Poems Past and Present (Power & Conflict)

AQA anthology

Students will also be asked to analyse a previously unseen poem in the exam. They have read a wide range of different poetic styles, genres and time periods during their years at AGS which will provide an excellent backdrop for poetic study at GCSE.

All assessments are closed book: students will not have copies of the texts in the exams.

Further information:

English Language:

Click here to view the 'specification at a glance'.

Click here to view the specimen papers. 

English Literature:

Click here to view the 'specification at a glance'. 

Click here to view the specimen papers.