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English Literature GCSE

Pearson Edexcel

GCSE English Literature

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” … discover which iconic protagonist uttered this infamous quote, as you open up a world of literary discovery with our GCSE English Literature online course.


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Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Shelley’s Frankenstein, poetry, J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls our GCSE English Literature online course introduces and explores a variety of fascinating classic literary works.

Supported by a personal tutor, you’ll learn more about key prose skills, such as character-building, plot, narrative and structure, and how they unlock meaning. Equipped with these techniques, you’ll gain a better understanding of what an author is trying to convey opening up a deeper reading experience.

Gaining a GCSE in English literature is vital for future career progression and a minimum requirement for many further education courses. It’s also a subject that inspires a life-long love of reading and even those who begin the course with the aim of improving their reading skills, end up becoming a bookworm!

Why study English Literature?

Studying English Literature GCSE online will enable you to gain this essential qualification, using quality course materials in a flexible way to study at your own pace.

As well as opening up a wide range of future career options, you’’ll find English literature is a really rewarding subject it will improve your reading, communication and analytical skills and equip you with skills that will deepen your experience of literature for life.

Our English Literature GCSE course is ideal if you:

  • Enjoy reading and want to study some of the most famous works in literature.
  • Are keen to study English at A level, or arts, humanities, languages, business or law subject in further education.
  • Want to develop your understanding of key literary theories and concepts.
  • Enjoy analysing and looking at the written word in greater depth.
  • Would like to build key employability skills, such as written communication, critical and analytical thinking.

Future opportunities

  • Studying English at A level.
  • A range of rewarding careers or vocational roles that require a GCSE in English such as nursing, accountancy or teaching.

Course content

Section 1: Introductory prose skills

  • Reading and writing about a novel
  • Some features of a novel
  • Plot, narrative and structure
  • Setting and atmosphere
  • Character
  • Language and style
  • Analysing a prose extract

Section 2: Frankenstein

  • An introduction to Frankenstein
  • Contexts
  • Themes
  • Robert Walton’s letters
  • Volume One, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume One, Chapters V-VIII
  • Volume Two, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume Two, Chapters VI-IX
  • Volume Three, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume Three, Chapters V and VI
  • The conclusion

Section 3: Introductory poetry skills

  • Reading poetry
  • Content, poetic voice, tone and mood
  • Imagery
  • Rhyme, rhythm, structure and form
  • Poetry in context
  • ‘Nettles’

Section 4: Anthology poems, Part 1

  • ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’
  • ‘A Child to his Sick Grandfather’
  • ‘She Walks in Beauty’
  • ‘A Complaint’
  • ‘1st Date – She’ and ‘1st Date – He’
  • ‘Valentine’
  • ‘One Flesh’
  • ‘I wanna be yours’

Section 5: Introduction to drama

  • Drama, stagecraft and staging
  • Shakespeare and his time
  • Elizabethan theatre
  • Plot and structure
  • Beginnings and endings
  • Presenting characters
  • Shakespeare’s language
  • The comedy genre
  • Twelfth Night: an introduction

Section 6: Twelfth Night

  • Themes and contexts
  • Act 1 Scenes 2 and 3
  • Act 1 Scenes 4 and 5
  • Act 2 Scenes 1 to 3
  • Act 2 Scenes 4 and 5
  • Act 3
  • Act 4
  • Act 5

Section 7: Anthology poems, Part 2

  • ‘Neutral Tones’
  • ‘Sonnet 43’
  • ‘My Last Duchess’
  • ‘Love’s Dog’
  • ‘The Manhunt’
  • ‘My Father Would Not Show Us’
  • Comparing poems

Section 8: An Inspector Calls

  • Priestly and his writing
  • Approaching An Inspector Calls
  • Structure and tension
  • Act 1
  • Act 2
  • Act 3
  • The Inspector and Eva Smith
  • Mr and Mrs Birling
  • The younger characters
  • Context and themes
  • Effective examination answers

Section 9: Unseen poetry

  • Structuring a response
  • Approaching unseen texts, part 1
  • Approaching unseen texts, part 2
  • Exam preparation

Study GCSE English Literature with us and benefit from:

  • Flexible learning
  • Support from a personal tutor by email, phone or Skype
  • Any time enrolment
  • Our exam booking service
  • Assignments with tutor feedback
  • Ongoing support from Student Support
  • Forums to discuss your course with other students


Choose when and where you access your course, using learn@nec our 24/7 learning platform.

This easy-to-use learning platform includes interactive checkpoints, quizzes and activities to help you evaluate your progress

Your tutor

You’ll have access to support from a personal tutor. All NEC tutors are subject experts, with experience of supporting online learners.

Meet Julia who is just one of our first-class English tutors:

“I am lead tutor for NEC’s English courses and have written many course modules for NEC. I have a degree and MA in English Literature from the University of Leeds and am a senior examiner and exam moderator, Head of English at a Leeds sixth form college and a schools’ adviser for English. Oxford University Press has published a variety of texts I have written for students including Love Through the Ages (2009 with Helen Ince) and More Love Through the Ages (2012, with Anna Merrick). I enjoy running, cycling and a variety of sporting activities.”

What you need to know

Exam board

  • Edexcel 1ET0


  • Online learning with support from a personal tutor


  • Complete at your own pace
  • Approx. 120-150*  hours plus time for completing assignments

*The specification suggests that 150 hours is needed. You’ll also need time to complete assignments and prepare yourself for exams and some courses like English literature involve a lot of reading. Everyone is different so it’s impossible to say with certainty how long a course will take you, but you should expect to spend longer than 150 hours. Taken across the length of time we recommend, this equates to approximately 4 hours per week. This will increase if you choose to take it over a shorter time frame or may be less if you are retaking a subject and have covered a lot of of the course content.


  • 10 assignments (one introductory) – these do not contribute to your final grade


  • Set textbooks – included free with your course (will be sent to you by post): Pearson Edexcel GCSE (9-1) English Literature ‘Relationships’ Poetry Anthology, Pearson Education Limited, 2014


  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Penguin Classics, 2003 (or any equivalent edition)
  • Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, Arden Shakespeare edition, 2008 (or any other edition with numbered lines)
  • An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly, Heinemann, 1992
  • Internet access
  • Computer operating system and browser to support learn@nec

What's included?

Our course fees are clear and transparent to help you plan for any additional costs.

Your course fee includes:

  • 24/7 access to learn@nec platform and resources
  • Expertly designed online course materials (including ebook versions of textbooks where specified) that you need to complete the course and written to cover the carefully selected awarding body specification
  • Support from our Student Services team
  • Structured assignments to help you track your progress throughout your course
  • Guidance from your tutor for up to 18 months from your date of enrolment
  • Constructive feedback on your assignments from your tutor, to help you improve and prepare for exams
  • Guaranteed exam place
  • NEC’s guide to study skills: How to Succeed as an Independent Learner
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar guide
  • Time planner template to help you plan your study timetable
  • Information on how to apply for exams

Your course fee does not cover:

  • Any fees in relation to exam entries or assessments
  • Centre Assessment Grades (CAG) in the event of exam cancellation
  • Recommended textbooks for additional reading or set texts
  • Equipment for core practicals

If you need more support, you can purchase:

  • Online tutorials – if you need help with a specific topic you can arrange a 30 minute or 1 hour tutorial
  • Additional past paper marking – to help with your exam preparation
  • Revision tutorial –  to plan your revision and explore revision techniques
  • Help with your UCAS application service

For further information on additional/optional support you can purchase, please visit our additional services page.

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Exams and assessment

Exams (two):

  • Paper 1 – 50% of marks  (1 hour 45 minutes)
  • Paper 2 – 50% of marks (2 hours 15 minutes)

There is no non-exam assessment (NEA) for this course

Additional support if you’re under 18

We know that our younger students often need an extra helping hand with their studies. In our experience learning online works best when either a parent or guardian are involved. This is why NEC has developed our unique Progress Tracker to help you to support your child.

NEC’s Progress Tracker will allow you to easily track your child’s progress across their subjects and gain insight to how well they are doing through access to their assignment grades and tutor feedback.  

Read more about how we work with young students who are studying at home or through a school.

Arrange a callback with a member of our Course Advice Team.

Would you like to talk to our Course Advice Team about the best route for you? Visit our Contact Us page, fill in the form and a member of the team will get back to you!