Keswick School

Skip to main content
26th July 14
Trail : home : About Us
Contacts and personnel
The course handbook contains very important information. Click here to download the handbook.

Keswick School English Department

AS/A - Level English Language Course Handbook 2003 - 2005

Welcome to A level English Language at Keswick School sixth form. We hope that you enjoy studying English at Advanced level. This handbook is designed to guide you through the courses that we offer. Please have it with you whenever you have English.


  • Introduction
  • Expectations
  • Ways of working
  • Books


  • Specification Structure
  • Assessment Objectives


Staff teams:     English Language group A1:

Mr Daltrey (APD)             Tues 4 (L42) & Thurs 1 (G25)

Mr Hadfield (NAH)            Mon 3 (G10); Wed 1 (S07) & Fri 5 (G10)

English Language group D1:

                        Miss Railton (JR)            Mon 1 (G07); Tues 2 (G07) & Thurs 3 (G07)

                        Miss Williams (RW)        Tues 5 (S03) & Fri 3 (S04)


This booklet contains important information regarding the A-level courses that we offer in the English Department here at Keswick. Please read it carefully and use it.

The specification you are doing is called

AQA English Language Specification B

A full copy of it is available in the NAH A Lang folder of Teachers’ Work on the school computer network.

The course leads after one year to an AS qualification, then after two years to an A level qualification. You will hear and read the second year referred to as A2. An important difference for us and for you is that the examination is modular - that means that you take tests as you go along - submitting coursework in April 2004, then taking unit tests in May/June 2004. The A2 course will commence as soon as the June tests are taken, then the test pattern is repeated for A2, with the possibility of taking one module in January 2005.


Embarking upon an AS/A - level must carry with it a serious and genuine commitment to work hard throughout the two years of the course. The demands of the modular structure mean that you must settle down to hard study quickly.

It has been observed that advanced level is much harder than GCSE. We expect you to make that commitment: this means being ready to work very hard, to always meet deadlines for the submission of assignments, to prepare thoroughly for lessons, to keep absolutely up to date with note making, to review and revise your notes regularly. Your progress will be checked regularly by us. Communication must be two-way: please make sure that you come to us too with any concerns or problems. For example, the day of handing in is too late to say, "I got nowhere with that piece of work...."; whereas a week before will allow us to intervene, to help out during the drafting stages of your writing.

It must be said that the ethos at A level marks a shift to the student taking on more and more responsibility for his or her own learning. The GCSE notion of just doing the work set is inadequate: background reading and note making will be necessary. We will expect you to find things out for yourself! We will expect you to use your initiative and develop areas of study that interest and appeal to you. Part of the requirements of the coursework is that you develop your own titles and your own ideas, for instance. Obviously we will guide you through this.

In terms of time you need to devote to the course, a useful guide is to assume that lesson time should be a half of the whole time you spend on your English studies. But you may need to spend more time! We have found in the past that students who plan and organise their time effectively do well: we would strongly urge that you use some form of time planning system - there are a number of student planners available as well as diaries and wall planners: use them!

Attendance and attitude

Lesson attendance is compulsory. If for any reason you know you are going to be absent tell us. If you are ill we expect you to find your English teacher for the lesson(s) you missed outside lesson time to find out how you need to catch up. We do not want to have to "chase up" absence. In your reports (mid year and end of year) we will be giving a figure for attendance at lessons.

We feel that learning is enhanced if the student brings a positive attitude to lessons and to his or her work. Please be ready to ask, to contribute, to listen, to enjoy! It is important you realise that an interested and enthusiastic approach will pay dividends.

We are expecting a high degree of self-motivation and organisation from you all.

Ways of working

Please have a separate file for English, and within it use some system to keep the different elements of your study organised and accessible. A contents page or index of some sort is in itself a very valuable revision tool. You will be expected to make notes in class as a matter of course: be ready to do so. Ten minutes spent reviewing those notes shortly afterwards can be very important - this might result in a few jotted questions or notes to yourself, which can then be followed up with your teacher or through reading. Similarly when you are working on your own, make notes as you go. Plan a regular revision of your work once a month. This will make revision for internal exams and the “real thing” easier.

Sometimes, you will be asked to lead a lesson or part of a lesson, individually or as part of a pair or group.

Throughout the course the need to keep up to date is important. Please also realise that we will expect you to work at home as a matter of course. In other words preparation work between lessons must be done: once you have your full timetable, organise a weekly plan of working which allows this.

We also want you to keep the following:

A Glossary of Technical terms. As you encounter technical terminology in lessons and in your background reading please build up a glossary as a separate section of your file. This should be regularly reviewed.

Language Scrapbook. This will be very important, as the course is very much intended for the study of language as it used in the real world. In your scrapbook you should collect examples of language in use: this might be posters or adverts which use language in an interesting way; examples of different registers; newspaper[1] and magazine articles about language; your own notes and observations of spoken language. As well as the scrapbook please set aside one or two audio and one or two video tapes and begin to collect recordings of programmes about language, and programmes which contain any interesting uses of language: e.g. comedy programmes often rest on the use of language devices. Scan the TV and radio listings regularly for suitable programmes.

Private writing journal. This might be a notebook, or again a section of your file. Notes, observations, drafts, interesting "overheards" can be kept, as well as fuller pieces of your own writing. This will be most useful in the original writing coursework element of the course.

Specification Structure

The attached document “Specification at a Glance” gives you the overall picture, including how the marks are allocated. The intended pattern of taking the module tests is as follows:

AS: Unit 1 - June 2004; Unit 2 - June 2004; Unit 3 - submit coursework April 2004

A2: Unit 4 - submit coursework April 2005; Unit 5 - January or June 2005; Unit 6 - June 2005.

There will be “mock” tests taken at regular intervals as part of your study.

Assessment Objectives


The attached document from the specification gives you the assessment objectives for the course. This is a very important document. We will explicit about AOs throughout the course and it is crucial that you embrace the notion of them. They set out clearly what is being assessed. Notice too from the table about weighting that the exam board set out clearly when each AO is being tested.


At AS and A level there are five pass grades: A, B, C, D, and E. On your work during the course we shall respond with a mark corresponding to the mark scheme for a particular component - which we will issue to you as appropriate - or give a notional grade.


All students taking English at A - level should have with them for lessons a good dictionary, preferably including etymological information. The Pocket Oxford (although you need quite a big pocket for it!) is recommended. A thesaurus is useful when writing.

We strongly recommend The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of The English Language (1995) and The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language: both by David Crystal. Though expensive, these are excellent. A cheaper way to get one of them is to trawl the newspapers for book club introductory offers.

The text book: AS English language for AQA B by Norman, R and Watkiss, A published by Heinemann ISBN 043513227X is available in the department. Another useful  book is: An Introduction to The Nature and Functions of Language by Jackson, H. And Stockwell, P. Published by Stanley Thornes ISBN 0-7487-2580-6. Also from Stanley Thornes is An Introduction to Stylistics by Clark, U.

We will also give you a more comprehensive bibliography of theory books as the course progresses. Within the dept. we are steadily building a library of extra books on language, as is the school library - find them at Dewey 400 to end of the 420s. We shall, of course, build upon this bibliography.


During the last couple of years, a new publishing venture - “E” Magazine has arrived on the scene, specifically aimed at A level English students, both language and literature. It is an exciting and accessible magazine and, significantly, offers articles directly related to the examinations. There are four issues a year, and the subscription is affordable. You will find back copies in the school library.  I would recommend this to you: watch out for a further information about it.

Using resources on the school computer network

On the network you will find in the Teachers’ Work area a folder labelled NAH A Lang this include documents and web sites which will be useful to you. The Internet has many resources for language students.

NAH August 2003

[1]all of the quality newspapers have regular features or columns about language.