English Literature GCSE

Explore English Literature through a range of texts, some familiar and some new, but all will inspire and challenge you. With a greater knowledge of literary techniques, form, vocabulary and imagery, you’ll find you’re better equipped to understand exactly what the author is trying to convey and get more out of what you’re reading.

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 1ET0 from the awarding organisation Edexcel. Full details of the specification can be obtained from Edexcel's website.


Section 1 - Introductory prose skills
  • Reading and writing about a novel
  • Some features of a novel
  • Plot, narrative and structure
  • Setting and atmosphere
  • Character
  • Language and style
  • Analysing a prose extract

Section 2 - Frankenstein
  • An introduction to Frankenstein
  • Contexts
  • Themes
  • Robert Walton's letters
  • Volume One, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume One, Chapters V-VIII
  • Volume Two, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume Two, Chapters VI-IX
  • Volume Three, Chapters I-IV
  • Volume Three, Chapters V and VI
  • The conclusion

Section 3 - Introductory poetry skills
  • Reading poetry
  • Content, poetic voice, tone and mood
  • Imagery
  • Rhyme, rhythm, structure and form
  • Poetry in context
  • 'Nettles'

Section 4 - Anthology poems, 1

  • ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’
  • ‘A Child to his Sick Grandfather’
  • ‘She Walks in Beauty’
  • ‘A Complaint’
  • ‘1st Date – She’ and ‘1st Date – He’
  • ‘Valentine’
  • ‘One Flesh’
  • ‘I wanna be yours’

Section 5 - Introduction to drama
  • Drama, stagecraft and staging
  • Shakespeare and his time
  • Elizabethan theatre
  • Plot and structure
  • Beginnings and endings
  • Presenting characters
  • Shakespeare's language
  • The comedy genre
  • Twelfth Night: an introduction

Section 6 - Twelfth Night
  • Themes and contexts
  • Act 1 Scenes 2 and 3
  • Act 1 Scenes 4 and 5
  • Act 2 Scenes 1 to 3
  • Act 2 Scenes 4 and 5
  • Act 3
  • Act 4
  • Act 5

Section 7 - Anthology poems, 2
  • 'Neutral Tones'
  • 'Sonnet 43'
  • 'My Last Duchess'
  • 'Love's Dog'
  • 'The Manhunt'
  • 'My Father Would Not Show Us'
  • Comparing poems

Section 8 - An Inspector Calls
  • Priestley and his writing
  • Approaching An Inspector Calls
  • Structure and tension
  • Act 1
  • Act 2
  • Act 3
  • The Inspector and Eva Smith
  • Mr and Mrs Birling
  • The younger characters
  • Context and themes
  • Effective examination answers

Section 9 - Unseen poetry
  • TBC

Exams and assessment

Two exams:
  • 2 hours 15 minutes, 50% of marks
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, 50% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):
  • None


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

The following text is included free with your course and will be sent to you through the post:
  • Pearson Edexcel GCSE (9-1) English Literature Poetry Anthology, Pearson Education Limited 2014

Additional texts:
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Penguin Classics 2003
  • Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare, Arden Shakespeare edition 2008 or any other edition with numbered lines
  • An Inspector Calls, J.B. Priestley, Heinemann 1992

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 Literature Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.

What our students say...

"I love English literature and was keen to study it for enjoyment purposes mainly, although still with the intention to further improve my GCSE results. I enjoyed the critical thinking aspect of the course, finding it thought-provoking; I also enjoyed the essay-writing, as I have found this useful to aid me with my Cambridge pre-university course."
— Jason Wadey