English Literature A Level

An A level in English Literature will encourage you to read widely as a critical and independent reader. You will immerse yourself in a wide range of literary texts that span centuries, gaining an understanding of how to read closely and analyse a range of critical views.

This course is one of our new Gold Star A levels. Find out more about them here.



Course requirements

A GCSE or equivalent in English Literature is recommended for this course. This is an online course so you will also need access to the internet.

Duration of study

It's really up to you but, as a guide, an A level course takes about 250-300 hours plus extra time for assignment work you submit to your tutor. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 24 months from the date of enrolment. Many students allow 18-24 months to complete an A level, but some complete the course within a year.


This course follows specification 7712 from the awarding organisation AQA. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from AQA's website.


Section 1 - Love through the ages: Othello
  • Introduction to Shakespeare studies
  • Othello Act I
  • Othello Act II
  • Othello Act III Part 1
  • Othello Act III Part 2
  • Othello Act IV
  • Othello Act V

Section 2 - Love through the ages: The Great Gatsby
  • Chapter 1: Setting the scene
  • Chapter 2: Tom and Myrtle
  • Chapter 3: Gatsby's party
  • Chapter 4: Back stories
  • Chapter 5: The reunion
  • Chapter 6: Another party
  • Chapter 7: Turning point
  • Aftermath

Section 3 - Love through the ages: pre-1900 poetry
  • Destructive love
  • Lust
  • Idealised love
  • Lost love 1
  • Lost love 2

Section 4 - Love through the ages: unseen poetry
  • Unrequited love
  • Abandonment
  • Mothers and daughters
  • Separation
  • Celebration
  • Anticipation
  • To a husband
  • Mourning

Section 5 - Preparing for the non-exam assessment (NEA)
  • The Yellow Wallpaper
  • A View from the Bridge Act I
  • A View from the Bridge Act II
  • Writing the NEA

Section 6 - Modern times: Spies
  • Spies Chapter 1
  • Spies Chapter 2
  • Spies Chapters 3 and 4
  • Spies Chapters 5 and 6
  • Spies Chapters 7 and 8
  • Spies Chapters 9 to 11

Section 7 - Modern times: All My Sons
  • All My Sons Act I
  • All My Sons Act II
  • All My Sons Act III

Section 8 - Modern times: Skirrid Hill
  • Variants of love
  • Love and loss
  • Growing up
  • Love and the land
  • Love, war and politics
  • Shadows
  • Crossing continents

Section 9 - Unseen prose
  • The Amateur Marriage
  • The Buddha of Suburbia
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Enduring Love
  • Mr Phillips
  • The Remains of the Day
  • The Secret History
  • Stoner

Exams and assessment

Two exams:
  • 3 hours, 40% of marks
  • 2 hours 30 minutes, 40% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):


Assignments do not contribute towards your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to gauge your progress as you work through the course.

This course has:
  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 10 assignments

Set texts and resources

The following text is included free with your course and will be sent to you through the post:
  • AQA AS and A-Level English Literature (A) Anthology: love poetry through the ages, AQA and Cambridge University Press 2015

Additional texts:
  • Othello (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series), Bloomsbury Publishing
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Penguin Modern Classics 2000
  • Skirrid Hill, Owen Sheers, Seren 2005
  • All My Sons, Arthur Miller, Penguin Modern Classics 2009
  • Spies, Michael Frayn, Faber and Faber 2011
  • A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller (introduction from the author and Philip Seymour Hoffman), Penguin Modern Classics 2010
  • The Yellow Wallpaper (and Selected Writings), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virago

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
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Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
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  6 months
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The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to www.dekopay.com/faq or visit www.dekopay.com.
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A Level English Literature Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

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What our students say...

"The flexibility of studying at home suits my family and work situation. I have studied with NEC before and I like the style of course materials. I like reading different texts that I would not normally read, expanding on my knowledge. I also liked learning new skills, studying descriptive, analytical and comparative writing."
— Louise Murrell