English Literature GCSE

Black and white printed portrait of William Shakespeare

If you’re interested in poetry or literature, our home study English literature course will allow you to pursue your passion while developing skills of analysis and critique. 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. Having an English Literature GCSE is useful if you wish to study the subject at advanced level, and improves the analytical skills that are useful in many other subject areas. Full details of the course can be found below.

Would you prefer to pay for your course by instalments? Please see the ‘How to enrol’ section below for details of our low cost, interest free finance available.

Are you intending to take your exams next summer? Please refer to our information on fast tracking and studying your course within one year.

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



Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this course, but it is strongly recommended that you have the ability to read and write English effectively.


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

Hours of study

As a guideline, you should allow for between 120 and 150 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 18 months from the date of enrolment.

Exams and assessment

Two exams:

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

Non-exam assessment (NEA):

  • None

All exams must be taken in the same session.

NEC's tutor-marked assignments:

  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 8 assignments


Additional information

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

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.

How can you pay?
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.

Section 1: Introductory prose skills

  • Reading and writing about a novel
  • Some features of a novel
    Plot, narrative and structure
    Setting and atmosphere
    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

  • ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’
    ‘A Child to his Sick Grandfather’
    ‘She Walks in Beauty’
    ‘A Complaint’
    ‘1st Date – She’ and ‘1st Date – He’
    ‘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

  • TBC

Section 7: An Inspector Calls

  • TBC

Section 8: Unseen poetry

  • TBC
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

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