Sixth Form: English Language

English Language

Subject Overview

There are two separate A Levels offered by the English Department: English Language and English Literature.

There are many transferable and desirable skills taught as part of the A Level English A Level course. The specification explores the study of English Language both as a medium of communication and as a topic in its own right, with an emphasis on the ability of students to pursue lines of enquiry, debate different views, and work independently to research aspects of language in use. Language is seen as a creative tool for expression and social connection, as well as for individual cognition which means that there is also scope for students to pursue their own independent lines of enquiry and topics for writing, with support from their teachers, in the non-exam assessment.

Entry Requirements

Grade 5 in English Language at GCSE.


English Language Course Units

Paper 1

Language, the Individual and Society

What's assessed:

  • Textual variations and representations
  • Children's language development (0-11 years)
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

How it is assessed:

  • written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 40% of A-level


Section A - Textual Variations and Representations

  • Two texts (one contemporary and one older text) linked by topic or theme.
  • A question requiring analysis of one text (25 marks)

Section B - Children's Language Development

  • A discursive essay on children’s language development, with a choice of two questions where the data provided will focus on spoken, written or multimodal language (30 marks)

Paper 2

Language Diversity and Change

What's assessed:

  • Language diversity and change
  • Language discourses
  • Writing skills
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

How it is assessed:

  • written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 40% of A-level


Section A - Diversity and Change

One question from a choice of two:

Either: an evaluative essay on language diversity (30 marks)

Or: an evaluative essay on language change (30 marks)

  • equiring analysis of a second text (25 marks)

 Section B - Language Discourses

  • Two texts about a topic linked to the study of diversity and change.
  • A question requiring analysis of how the texts use language to present ideas, attitudes and opinions (40 marks)
  • A directed writing task linked to the same topic and the ideas in the texts (30 marks)

 Non-exam assessment: Language in Action

What's assessed:

  • Language Investigation
  • Original Writing
  • Methods of language analysis are integrated into the activities

How it is assessed:

  • Word count: 3,500
  • 100 marks
  • 20% of A-level
  • Assessed by teachers
  • Moderated by AQA


Students produce:

  • a language investigation (2,000 words excluding data)
  • a piece of original writing and commentary (1,500 words total)

Activities and Trips

There will be opportunities to take part in Study Workshops at local Universities.

Expected Costs

English Language students are encouraged to purchase their own core text book, so that they can be annotated for examination preparation.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

English Language A Level is often studied in conjunction with other Arts-based subjects or Social Sciences. Popular combinations include: Sociology, Psychology, Media, English Literature, and History.

English Language can be studied at degree level and can lead to careers in journalism, the media and law.

Subject Resources

Other information

This course would appeal to you if: 

  • You enjoy reading a wide range of spoken and written texts.
  • You relish debate, discussion and analysis.
  • You would like to pursue a career in communication.
  • You are creative and would like the opportunity to enhance your creative writing.
  • You are inquisitive about how children acquire language, how language has evolved or how gender might affect the way we communicate.