English Language GCSE

English language can be used to inspire, motivate and challenge us in countless different ways. It is an inherent part of the world around us, from the way it is used in an advert to the writing of a script for a blockbuster movie. Explore the use of words in different contexts with this course and gain skills essential for many jobs and further study.

This course is one of our new Gold Star GCSEs. Find out more about them here.



Course requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course, but you need to be able to read and write in English. This is an online course so you will also need access to the internet.

Duration of study

It's really up to you but, as a guide, a GCSE course takes about 120-150 hours plus extra time for assignment work you submit to your tutor. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 18 months from the date of enrolment.


This course follows specification 8700 from the awarding organisation AQA. Full details of the specification can be obtained from AQA's website.


Section 1 - Creative reading (Part 1)
  • Prose fiction texts
  • Language effects
  • Setting, context and atmosphere
  • Looking at characters

Section 2 - Creative reading (Part 2)
  • Narrative voice and narrative viewpoint
  • Openings and endings
  • Approaching Paper 1 Section A

Section 3 - Creative writing (Part 1)
  • Descriptive and narrative writing
  • Describing settings
  • Describing characters

Section 4 - Creative writing (Part 2)
  • Narrative writing
  • Using dialogue
  • Approaching Paper 1 Section B

Section 5 - Writer's viewpoints and perspectives: Reading (Part 1)
  • Inference and interpretation
  • Viewpoints and perspectives
  • Synthesis and summary

Section 6 - Writer's viewpoints and perspectives: Reading (Part 2)
  • Comment and analysis
  • Comparing writers' ideas
  • Approaching Paper 2 Section A

Section 7 - Writer's viewpoints and perspectives: Writing
  • Audience, purpose and form
  • Planning your response
  • Writing your response (Part 1)
  • Writing your response (Part 2)
  • Approaching Paper 2 Section B

Section 8 - Preparing for the exam (Paper 1)
  • Practice Paper 1
  • Guidance on Practice Paper 1

Section 9 - Preparing for the exam (Paper 2)
  • Practice Paper 2
  • Guidance on Practice Paper 2

Exams and assessment

Two exams:
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of marks
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):


Assignments do not contribute towards your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to gauge your progress as you work through the course.

This course has:
  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 9 assignments

Set texts and resources

There are no essential set texts. The course includes some recommended books that you may wish to refer to for additional reading:
  • AQA GCSE English Language: Developing the Skills for Learning and Assessment, H Blackhouse and B Emm, Oxford 2015
  • AQA GCSE English Language: Assessment Preparation for Paper 1 and Paper 2, J Branson and P Ellison, Oxford 2015
  • Oxford A-Z of Better Spelling, C Buxton, Oxford 2013
  • Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, J Seely, Oxford 2013

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months
  0% (fixed)

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to www.dekopay.com/faq or visit www.dekopay.com.
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

GCSE English Language Course Sample

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What our students say...

"Distance learning is interesting and the tutors are fantastic. I am pleased with the services. Follow the guide given by the college; everything is very easy and stress-free."
— Thomas Mangazira