English Language and Literature

The study of a range of literary and non-literary texts.

Why study English Language and Literature?

If you’re fascinated by the power of written and spoken language, then this course has so much to offer. You’ll study some great books alongside a whole range of non-literary material. You’ll develop skills of careful reading and analysis. You’ll get the chance to talk about all the great themes in human experience-love, loss, sex, power and money...

What will I study?

A-level English Language and Literature involves the study of a number of texts from the 20th Century. Currently these are A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Poetry by Seamus Heaney, and The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. You’ll also study a whole range of short non-literary texts from an anthology set by the board. For your coursework you’ll be able to choose your own texts to explore.

Which exam board & how will I be assessed?


There are two exams worth 80% of the overall grade. Your coursework will be worth 20%. Both exams are open book-so you don’t have to learn quotations for this course.

Where could it take me?

By studying English Language and Literature you can apply for any English based degree at any university. Students also apply for journalism, creative writing, marketing and teaching using their English A-level as a starting point. Our students go on to careers in teaching, publishing, HR, journalism, theatre management and advertising. But we also have former students of the department who are doctors, dentists and vets!

Subject combinations

Students frequently combine English with History, Modern Foreign Languages, Law, Psychology and Sociology. But we’ve had many students who have successfully combined English with science A-levels or Maths. The ability to communicate well in speech or writing is central to so many professions - it’s hard to see where English can’t take you.

What support is available?

One to one support is always available. We run revision sessions at lunchtime in the months leading up to exams. Our revision planners will help you organise yourself by giving you specific weekly tasks to target. We have a wide range of resources on paper and online to support your learning and help you manage note-making, new terminology and reading.

What extracurricular activity is available?

We run regular trips to theatres locally and further afield. We’ve visited the British Library and the British Museum in London. We love visiting the birthplace of the Bronte sisters in Howarth, Yorkshire and the Slavery museum in Liverpool. We also encourage creative writing through a programme of writing workshops with a range of professional writers. We also have a departmental magazine which students write and edit themselves.

Did you know?

In 2019, the high-grade rate (A*-B) in English Language and Literature at Winstanley College was 79%. The national average is 39%!