A Level: English Language

Course title: Advanced GCE in English Language

Exam board: AQA

Subject specific entry criteria: Grade 6 in GCSE English Language

Course overview

Unit 1: Language, the Individual and Society

Representation and Meaning:

For this unit, students will develop their understanding of how language works and how text producers (of spoken and written texts) manipulate language to create meanings and representations.

Language Development:

For this unit, students will develop a strong theoretical and linguistic understanding of how children learn language by exploring real data from children at different stages of development.

Unit 2: Language Diversity and Change

The aim of this area of study is to allow students to explore language diversity and change over time focusing on the following key topics of study:

  • Language Change
  • Language and Gender
  • Language Variation (Accent, Dialect and Social Groups’ usage)
  • Language and Ethnicity
  • Language and Occupation
  • World Englishes.

In this unit, students will also develop discursive, analytical and creative writing skills when writing about language.

Unit 3: Language in Action

The emphasis in this unit is to allow students to explore and analyse language data independently, as well as develop and reflect upon their own writing expertise. Students will write a language investigation focusing on an individual interest in an area of language study. Past investigations have covered diverse topics, such as regional dialect; the language of the media; gendered talk and children’s language use. Students will also write one piece of original writing and accompanying commentary based on either: The Power of Persuasion, The Power of Storytelling or The Power of Information.

Assessment overview

Unit 1 – Examination in June in Year 13.

  • One exam, lasting 2 hours 30 minutes.
  • Section A contains three compulsory questions based on Textual Variations and Representations requiring analysis and comparison of unseen data.
  • Section B focuses on Children’s Language Development with a choice of two questions using unseen data.
  • 40% of A Level.

Unit 2 – Examination in June in Year 13.

  • One exam, lasting 2 hours 30 minutes.
  • Section A contains a choice of two essay questions on Language Diversity and Change.
  • Section B contains two compulsory questions based on Language Discourses, including a directed writing response.
  • 40% of A Level.

Unit 3 – Non-exam assessment.

  • Two sections: a language investigation and a piece of original writing supported by a commentary. Recommendation for mark to be submitted to the exam board in May of Year 13.
  • 20% of A Level.
Future progression

This English Language qualification will provide students with an opportunity for the study of language as a science. It will support students who wish to study languages at A Level and is an ideal option for students who wish to balance out their Sixth Form portfolio with a subject that offers a creative contrast to Science and Mathematics subjects whilst maintaining a highly scientific approach to study. The independent study required will offer the opportunity to become familiar with effective research methods as well as offering the firm foundations of autonomous working that is essential for success at university.

Similarly, the ability to demonstrate excellent awareness of how language can be constructed to shape perceptions and position audiences is an invaluable and increasingly sought-after quality for employers. Students who embark upon Key Stage 5 English Language programmes will become critically empowered readers and users of language in professional contexts and spheres of influence.

Potential careers

Study of English Language A Level means that students will become exceptional communicators; therefore, this subject relates to and complements creative and scientific subjects alike.

Some subject specific careers that the study of English Language A Level can lead to are:

  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Digital Copywriting and Print Media
  • Writing
  • Lexicography
  • Journalism
  • Web Content Management
  • Marketing
  • Teaching
  • Social Media Management
How to succeed in English Language

You will:

  • have a genuine interest in communication and language
  • be a keen reader of fiction and non-fiction texts
  • have a genuine desire to investigate the way in which a variety of written and spoken texts are shaped by, and in turn shape, culture/society
  • be a creative writer
  • be prepared to work independently and complete research assignments
  • have a critical eye and be able to identify and respond to other writer’s viewpoints
  • be working at a Grade 6 or above in your GCSE in this subject.