English Literature GCSE

English Literature GCSE

This course invites you to consider human behaviour and our complex world through the exploration of literature. With texts including poetry, 19th century writing, Shakespeare, contemporary fiction and drama – there is plenty to spark curiosity and inspire discussion.

Why St Mary's

Expand your knowledge of this fascinating subject, supported by dedicated teachers, who are passionate about literature – from the classics to cutting-edge contemporary work.

English Literature GCSE will inspire you to explore a wide range of literature and its role in society, including poetry, 19th century writing, Shakespeare, contemporary fiction and drama.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

  • Theatre trips
  • Lectures on key set texts
  • Author visits and workshops (most recently Julia Golding, Alexander Gordon Smith, Louisa Reid and Robin Stevens)
  • Essay and writing competitions
  • Debating and Public Speaking Club
  • Online lectures from experts in literature
  • Teacher surgeries to support your progress
  • Focused revision sessions

Course overview

  • Paper 1, Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel, allows students the opportunity to appreciate a rich literary heritage.
  • Paper 2, Modern Texts and Poetry, provides experience of contemporary writing and a wide range of styles and eras of poetry.


This two year course is assessed through two examinations at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework or controlled assessment assignments.

  • Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel - written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes (40% of GCSE)
  • Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry - written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes (60% of GCSE)

Paper 2 includes one question on a poem not previously studied. This tests skills of analysis which we will practise throughout the course.

At a glance

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What our teachers say...

“English was always the subject I enjoyed the most. I was lucky to have an incredible English teacher who fired up my enthusiasm … his energy and enjoyment were infectious.

It was brilliant and taught me very early on that literature and the arts could be exciting, strange, provocative, beautiful and utterly absorbing.”