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Should I Take GCSE English Literature?

23rd October 20

By studying GCSE English Literature, you will come to appreciate words and the power they can hold for years after they have been written. The texts you read will allow you to travel to other realms and times, learning about earlier British civilisation and the way people used to live. As you learn to consider multiple viewpoints, you will comprehend the complexity of human nature and the ambiguities of life.

In studying literature we become better thinkers. We learn to see and value the multi-sidedness of situations. This expands our minds and the range of our vision to consider thoughts, feelings and solutions we may have otherwise not appreciated. By examining literature, we develop empathy and a greater understanding of the human condition.

Reading texts from the genres of prose, poetry and drama, you will analyse the themes, characters and literary techniques. Considering the social and cultural contexts in which they were written. In reading about a wide range of cultures and intellectual traditions, you will be challenged to think critically about complex topics from different perspectives.

You will develop your own opinions about the issues covered and learn how to present your interpretations to others. Through this, you indulge your individuality and creativity, becoming more confident in the way you think and consider situations.

Historical writing and the way words are used to convey thoughts and emotions can be truly fascinating. Studying GCSE English Literature allows you to explore this in great detail while acquiring a vast array of transferable skills that are highly sought by employers.

learndirect - Should I Take GCSE English Literature? - Study Shakespeare

What the Course Involves

GCSE English Literature will cover a range of texts both familiar and new, to inspire readers and provide styles that appeal to every student.

Throughout your course, you will analyse, debate and critically theorise literary works that span across 400 years. Including Shakespeare, the 19th Century novel, the 20th century novel and poetry relating to power and conflict.

While you will be analysing classic texts and authors, you will gain core reading comprehension and writing skills that will be valuable to you in life and your career.  

Following completion of the modules, you will undertake two written exams at the end of the course.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel

Section A – Shakespeare

You will answer one question on Macbeth. Writing in detail about an extract from the play and then writing about the play as a whole.

Section B - The 19th-century novel

You will answer one question on The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Writing in detail about an extract from the novel and then writing about the novel as a whole.

Paper 2: Modern texts and poetry

Section A - Modern texts

You will answer one essay question from a choice of two on Animal Farm

Section B – Poetry

You will answer one comparative question on one named poem printed on the paper and one other poem from the power and conflict anthology.

Section C - Unseen poetry

You will answer one question on one unseen poem and one question comparing this poem with a second unseen poem.

On successful completion of GCSE English Literature, you will gain a qualification that is often essential for further education. Required for many degrees and employment opportunities.

learndirect - Should I Take GCSE English Literature? - Poetry

The Modules You Will Study

Shakespeare and the 19th-century novel

Shakespeare – Macbeth

The 19th-century novel – The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Modern texts and poetry

Modern texts – Animal Farm by George Orwell

Poetry – Power and conflict anthology

Unseen poetry - You will experience a wide range of poetry to develop your ability to closely analyse unseen poems. Enhancing your ability to analyse and compare key features like content, theme, structure and use of language.

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What You Will Learn

People who study English Literature develop a host of transferrable skills that employers are looking for. By examining numerous texts in detail, you will develop reading skills such as the ability to process information and facts directly stated in the text and understand their underlying meaning, critical reading and evaluation of a writer’s choice of vocabulary, grammatical and structural features. Along with the ability to compare written work in relation to themes, characterisation, context, style and literary quality.

Your essay writing will enable you to carry out research, develop persuasive arguments and write in a coherent, articulate way.

Your vocabulary and use of the English language will vastly improve. Allowing you to effectively communicate your understanding, opinions and ideas that you have gained from your in-depth analysis and critical thinking. All of which are important to employers.

learndirect - Should I Take GCSE English Literature? - What you will learn

What Next

Studying GCSE English Literature nurtures a passion for reading and writing while laying a solid foundation for further study and the workplace. While you can take your GCSE qualification into further literary studies, having a good grade in GCSE English Literature can help you study many other subjects. This is because English as a whole is a core subject that provides solid skills that are applicable in many areas of study.

Studying English Literature can also lead to varied careers like teaching, law and business, as well as professional writing roles such as a Digital Copywriter, Editorial Assistant or Journalist.


If you want to take your passion for reading and writing further, studying GCSE English Literature can be an excellent place to start.

As learndirect is a leading UK distance learning provider, you have the opportunity to study this course online. In doing so, you can study from the comfort of your own home, without the need to step foot in a classroom.

All our course materials are available online from the minute you enrol. You choose how quickly you complete the online course, creating your own schedule that fits around your lifestyle. That means you can learn around a full-time job or a busy family life.

Having this level of flexibility often means our students complete the course quicker than they would in a typical education setting. Depending of course when they enrol and how close to their exams this is.

To find out more about studying GCSE English Literature online, click to view the course specification below.

learndirect - Should I Take GCSE English Literature? - Study GCSEs Online

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