2015 AS and A level English specifications | Pearson qualifications

2015 AS and A level English specifications

17 November 2014

We are pleased to present the new accredited Pearson Edexcel AS and A level English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature specifications for first teaching from September 2015.

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To express your interest in offering these qualifications, please complete our Intention to Offer form.

Launch events

We hope you've had the chance to attend a launch event to find out about our GCSE and A level specifications for 2015. If you haven't, and you'd like to either talk to a member of our team or ask us to visit your department, please complete this form.


We will be offering 'Getting Ready to Teach' events in the new year.

Specifications and materials

To download our new accredited 2015 specifications and sample assessment materials (SAMs), visit:

Also, have a look at our fantastic accompanying resources:

Key changes from 2015

The new A levels in English are linear qualifications, with all assessment at the end of the course. AS is a stand-alone qualification that does not contribute towards A level, although we have ensured that the content for AS and Year 1 of A level is entirely co-teachable. The subject criteria for English AS and A levels have been revised. All awarding organisations must ensure that their specifications adhere to these criteria:

Key changes for AS and A level English Literature 2015

  • 20% coursework at A Level – no AS coursework
  • Eight texts - reduced from 12 to facilitate in-depth reading and to move away from 'secondary texts'
  • Changes to dates ranges: post-1990 becomes post-2000; greater emphasis on pre-1900 texts (3 out of 8)
  • Unseen assessment will be a compulsory requirement
  • Less emphasis on comparison in favour of 'connections'.

Key changes for AS and A level English Language 2015

  • Updated technical vocabulary
  • Minor amendments to the subject content, to specify the study of historical, geographical, social and individual varieties of English, as well as aspects of language and identity
  • Impact of the reduced coursework component on carrying forward both the current investigation and creative writing coursework tasks.

Key changes for AS and A level English Language and Literature 2015

  • Less genre prescription at both AS and A Level
  • At least one of the texts studied must be non-literary
  • Inclusion of specific language levels
  • Emphasis on comparison is reduced.

Changes to assessment objectives for each AS and A level English subject

The changes to AS and A level English include:

  • Five AOs for each English subject.
  • They are clearer.
  • They are more focused.
  • There is no conflation of different skills.

How we've addressed these changes

We've been working on the draft specifications for over a year, carrying out extensive research, including:

  • Teachers from a range of schools and colleges – in focus groups, surveys, phone interviews and face-to-face conversations – have provided feedback at each stage.
  • Academics in UK universities have helped us understand how to build on the strengths of the current specifications and advised on how progression to undergraduate study could be improved.
  • We have commissioned and conducted our own research projects, including international benchmarking.
  • Our specifications are aligned with Pearson’s World Class Qualification principles to ensure that they're demanding, rigorous, inclusive and empowering.

Our focus for English

  • A clear subject vision underpinning the specification content.
  • Co-teachable AS and A level.
  • Selecting engaging texts, themes and content.
  • Maintaining the current A level standard – no 'recalibration'.
  • Holistic mark schemes, which have been trialled to ensure that they’re as clear as possible.
  • Holistic assessment – equal coverage of assessed AOs.

We want our new AS and A level English qualifications to be interesting and enriching assessments. We know that some of the changes are significant, and we're working hard to support you through them. We'll continue to consult extensively with teachers during the accreditation process and we will keep you informed about changes to the draft specifications as a result of Ofqual feedback.


Will there be textbooks for the new English specifications and when will they be available?

We will keep you up to date with planned resources via email updates. Please make sure that you sign up for my regular email updates.

Contact us

What training will you be offering teachers for the new English specifications?

After Christmas, we’ll be running some in-depth Getting Ready to Teach events. For details, please visit our Training page.

What other support will you be offering teachers?

All the support you expect: course planners, schemes of work, in-depth lesson plans focused on new content, set text recommendations and key teaching points, a Getting Started guide, along with specific support for particular units such as the Shakespeare Critical Anthology, produced in association with University College London, and the Contemporary Poetry Preparation Anthology for A level English Literature.

How can I provide feedback on the new 2015 AS and A level English specifications?

We welcome your feedback on the new specifications – please contact us.

How can I register an interest in teaching the new 2015 AS and A level English specifications?

Please complete our Intention to offer form.




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