English Language

Specification: AQA B

Why study English Language?

Our A level English Language specification offers opportunities for students to develop their subject expertise by exploring key language concepts and engaging with a range of texts and discourses. 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, analyse texts produced by others and debate different views.

What will I study?

  • Language and the individual – this unit will introduce students to language study, exploring textual variety as well as methods of analysis to explore concepts such as audience, purpose, mode, genre and representation.
  • Language varieties – this unit will cover the key concepts of audience, purpose, genre and mode and will explore language in its wider social and geographical contexts. Students will study varieties of English within the British Isles. This part of the subject content also requires students to study social attitudes to, and debates about, language diversity.
  • Language diversity and change over time – students will study a range of examples of language in use and research data to inform their study of diversity and change:
    • texts using different sociolects (to include social and occupational groups, gender and ethnicity)
    • texts using different dialects (to include regional, national and international varieties of English)
    • texts that use language to represent the different groups above
    • texts from different periods, from 1600 to the present day
    • written, spoken and electronic texts about a range of subjects, for various audiences and purposes in a variety of genres
    • items from collections of language data (eg dictionaries, online resources, language corpora)
    • research findings (eg tables, graphs, statistics).
  • Child language acquisition – in this unit students should explore how children develop their spoken and written skills. To achieve this, students should study:
    • the functions of children’s language
    • phonological, pragmatic, lexical, semantic and grammatical development
    • different genres of speech and writing
    • different modes of communication (spoken, written, multimodal)
    • theories and research about language development.
  • Students will also complete an individual language investigation on a topic of their choice and create a piece of original writing for the purpose of persuasion, storytelling or giving information.

What is assessed?

For the A Level qualification you will study for two more exams and one non-exam assessment:

Paper 1 (Language, the individual and society): two sections.

Section A: Textual variations and representations – two questions on unseen texts (one contemporary and one older) and one question comparing the two texts.

Section B: Children’s language development – a discursive essay on children’s language development.

Paper 2 (Language diversity and change): two sections.

Section A: Diversity and change – choice of two evaluative essays on either language diversity or language change.

Section B: Language discourses – two texts linked to diversity/change topic, one analysis question and one directed writing task linked to the same topic.

Non-exam assessment – a language investigation and piece of original writing totalling 3500 words.

Assessment pattern

A Level:

Paper 1 & Paper 2: 2 exams of 2 hours 30 minutes each = 80% of A Level Language investigation & creative writing = 20% of A Level.

Entry requirements

Students can be accepted onto the course if they have passed GCSE at grade 5 or higher in English Language; grade 6 or above is a good indicator of their aptitude for study at this level.

Course expenses

There are no set texts for this course, although students will be encouraged to buy a course textbook and reference materials like language encyclopaedias. These will cost between £15 and £20 each.


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