In KS5 the English Faculty offers three different A Level courses: AQA A Level English Literature, AQA A Level English Language and AQA A Level Media Studies. These are very different, as can be seen in the course leaflets, so you should think carefully about where your interests lie. A number of students choose to combine one of the English choices with Media Studies, which works very well and allows you to make connections and build up your understanding and examination skills effectively. However, we do not normally advise students to choose both English courses without talking to all staff concerned first; it might be an appropriate choice for a few students, but for many, it risks being rather narrow and so limiting your further education and career. Please come to the open evening or arrange a time when you can talk to us at length if you are considering both English A Levels.
Finally, many students ask us to briefly explain the difference between A Level English Language and Literature. After all, you will be completing both subjects at GCSE and the two subjects are taught more or less in sequence through Years 10 and 11, so, in brief, from our point of view:
English Literature is the more traditional subject. It focuses only on written texts such as novels, plays and drama, and includes both modern writing (such as our choice of The Kite Runner, first published in 2003) alongside more traditional classic texts (such as our choice of Shakespeare’s Othello). The key to studying literature at A Level is appreciating the complexities of each text and how the language and ideas might reflect the themes, the morality or the social reality of a society. English Literature offers therefore a very rewarding intellectual challenge, alongside the opportunity to think and write creatively.
English Language is the more recent subject and much, much wider in its interests. Firstly, it covers both written and spoken English, so the conversational pattern within a classroom, or the techniques used by newspapers or the new words created by teenagers in text speak are all seen as worthy of study (and potentially of being included within an examination paper). This range means that the subject suits those who are genuinely interested in the language (and the world) around them. The coverage and specialist ideas are perhaps surprising for some students too; we look at how children learn English, how attitudes to language have changed and how English has developed since Shakespeare was writing his plays.
It is important to note that the two English A Levels are viewed as equal by employers, universities and by us – they are of equivalent difficulty and both can lead to the same university degree, for instance. However, they are very different in their approach, so do ask if you want further clarification.
The faculty has a suite of dedicated teaching rooms which are all equipped with projectors and interactive whiteboards. Four rooms have sets of laptops for student use and another is a dedicated Media Suits, complete with a ‘chromakey screen’.