GCSE English Literature

Online distance learning course with study materials, tutor support and guaranteed exam place included.

The National Extension College


£495 VAT exempt
Payment options

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over... Read more

Study method
Online, self-paced
150 Hours
Access to content
18 Months
GCSE English Literature
Professional What's this?
Additional info
  • Exam(s) / assessment(s) not included in price & must be purchased separately
  • Tutor is available to students
  • TOTUM card is available to purchase separately What's this?

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“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” … discover which iconic protagonist uttered this infamous quote, as you open up a world of literary discovery with our GCSE English Literature online course.

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Shelley’s Frankenstein, poetry, J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls … our GCSE English Literature online course introduces and explores a variety of fascinating classic literary works.

Supported by a personal tutor, you’ll learn more about key prose skills, such as character-building, plot, narrative and structure, and how they unlock meaning. Equipped with these techniques, you’ll gain a better understanding of what an author is trying to convey – opening up a deeper reading experience.

Gaining a GCSE in English literature is vital for future career progression and a minimum requirement for many further education courses. It’s also a subject that inspires a life-long love of reading and even those who begin the course with the aim of improving their reading skills, end up becoming a bookworm!


GCSE English Literature
Awarded by Pearson


Why study English Literature?

Studying English Literature GCSE online will enable you to gain this essential qualification, using quality course materials in a flexible way to study at your own pace.

As well as opening up a wide range of future career options, you’’ll find English literature is a really rewarding subject – it will improve your reading, communication and analytical skills and equip you with skills that will deepen your experience of literature for life.

Course content

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, Part 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, Part 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

  • Priestly 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

  • Structuring a response
  • Approaching unseen texts, part 1
  • Approaching unseen texts, part 2
  • Exam preparation

Your tutor

You’ll have access to support from a personal tutor. All NEC tutors are subject experts, with experience of supporting online learners.

Meet Julia who is just one of our first-class English tutors:

“I am lead tutor for NEC’s English courses and have written many course modules for NEC. I have a degree and MA in English Literature from the University of Leeds and am a senior examiner and exam moderator, Head of English at a Leeds sixth form college and a schools’ adviser for English. Oxford University Press has published a variety of texts I have written for students including Love Through the Ages (2009 with Helen Ince) and More Love Through the Ages (2012, with Anna Merrick). I enjoy running, cycling and a variety of sporting activities.”

What you need to know

Exam board

  • Edexcel 1ET0


  • Online learning with support from a personal tutor


  • Complete at your own pace
  • Approx. 120-150* hours plus time for completing assignments

*The specification suggests that 150 hours is needed. You’ll also need time to complete assignments and prepare yourself for exams and some courses like English literature involve a lot of reading. Everyone is different so it’s impossible to say with certainty how long a course will take you, but you should expect to spend longer than 150 hours. Taken across the length of time we recommend, this equates to approximately 4 hours per week. This will increase if you choose to take it over a shorter time frame or may be less if you are retaking a subject and have covered a lot of of the course content.


  • 10 assignments (one introductory) – these do not contribute to your final grade


  • Set textbooks – included free with your course (will be sent to you by post): Pearson Edexcel GCSE (9-1) English Literature ‘Relationships’ Poetry Anthology, Pearson Education Limited, 2014


  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Penguin Classics, 2003 (or any equivalent edition)
  • Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, Arden Shakespeare edition, 2008 (or any other edition with numbered lines)
  • An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly, Heinemann, 1992
  • Internet access
  • Computer operating system and browser to support learn@nec

What's included?

Our course fees are open and honest to help you plan for any additional costs.

Your course fee includes:

  • Access to learn@nec
  • All the course materials you need to complete the course
  • Support from a personal tutor for up to 18 months from your date of enrolment
  • Assignment marking
  • Guaranteed exam place
  • Set textbook, sent to you by post
  • NEC’s guide to study skills: How to Succeed as an Independent Learner
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar guide
  • Time planner to help you plan your study timetable
  • Information on how to apply for exams

Your course fee does not cover:

  • Exam entry fees
  • Additional textbooks

Optional extras:

  • Additional past paper marking
  • Revision tutorial
  • Optional tutorial
  • Additional review

Exams and assessment

Exams (two):

  • Paper 1 – 50% of marks (1 hour 45 minutes)
  • Paper 2 – 50% of marks (2 hours 15 minutes)

There is no non-exam assessment (NEA) for this course.

Additional support if you're under 18

We know that our younger students often need an extra helping hand with their studies. In our experience, learning online works best when the parents are involved, so when you enrol your child with NEC, you’ll have a unique set of services to help you to support your child.

This includes:

  • Your own log in to learn@nec to access the course so you can view the course materials and other information for yourself.
  • Access to your child’s gradebook to help you to monitor progress and provide appropriate and timely intervention and support
  • You’ll receive emails and forum posts so that you have all the examination and assessment updates/information provided by the NEC team
  • Dedicated Parent Portal Pages and targeted blogs with updates/information/help and advice on many aspects of home education.
  • Access to the Kudos career platform for young learners to explore career choices.

Who is this course for?

Our English Literature GCSE course is ideal if you:

  • Enjoy reading and want to study some of the most famous works in literature.
  • Are keen to study English at A level, or arts, humanities, languages, business or law subject in further education.
  • Want to develop your understanding of key literary theories and concepts.
  • Enjoy analysing and looking at the written word in greater depth.
  • Would like to build key employability skills, such as written communication, critical and analytical thinking.


  • No formal qualifications are required for this course
  • An ability to read and write in English

Career path

Future opportunities

  • Studying English at A level.
  • A range of rewarding careers or vocational roles that require a GCSE in English such as nursing, accountancy or teaching.

Questions and answers

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