The English Department offers the Edexcel IGCSE. This highly regarded course offers the very best foundation for university study and for life beyond formal education.

Instilling a love of English.

In Year 9, students engage with an extensive range of literature, studying all genres and being introduced to some of the main literary movements.

Pupils undertake written work – creative, analytical, journalistic – some project work and a range of oral activities. The Year 9 classroom is always an energetic and exciting place to be. This prepares students effectively for their IGCSE course and ensures that we enjoy this year in which no exams take place.

Year 10 sees the start of the IGSCE literature and language courses, an exciting programme which suits our students excellently. Its rigorous nature and wide-variety of set texts mean that a full grounding in the subject can be gained.

English Language.

Alongside this, the English Language course provides practical training in reading and writing skills, preparing students effectively for life beyond the classroom.

Our staff’s specialisms are wide-ranging, allowing students access to the very best guidance in their preparatory work.

We believe very strongly in engaging the cultural appetites of Epsom College pupils. As a reuslt, we run theatre trips, organise visits to author forums and literary seminars and encourage students to value their literary and cultural heritage by engaging actively with it.

Follow the links below to learn more about English at Epsom College.

In Years 7 and 8, students immerse themselves in writing from across history, seeking to emulate the styles and methods of the greatest writers.

From Simon Armitage’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Hill’s The Woman in Black, students will read texts which have shaped the world we inhabit and then learn to write like those masters of their craft.

Through redrafting, exhaustive attention to detail and a belief that writing well matters deeply, our students will produce polished, substantial work of which they can be proud.

Grammar is taught through the study of writing and we place great emphasis on the importance of learning poetry so that our students build up a rich store of language on which to draw throughout their lives.

The final component of the Lower School English course is the ‘Trivium’ lesson, which serves two important functions:

  • Firstly, students spend time reading quietly, immersing themselves in the printed word, away from screens and distractions. Reading peacefully, being alone with one’s thoughts is not only a pleasure but essential to help students make sense of the world they inhabit.
  • Secondly, they learn to be confident, articulate public speakers through a range of activities, including debating, discussion and talks.

This is a crucial year for our pupils as they lay down the academic foundations on which they will build at IGCSE and beyond.

Although the Department revels in the freedom of opportunity afforded by this year, before the exigencies of examinations commence, we are keenly aware of the need to respect the major requirements of the National Curriculum in order to prepare pupils effectively for the two-year IGCSE course.

To this end, we endeavour to make sure that specific language skills are covered and that all our pupils have experience of texts that are substantial and challenging in terms of ideas and use of language.

All students begin the year by studying prose fiction from different genres and periods, before moving on to poetry and drama (including Shakespeare) in the Lent term.

The Year 9 poetry project is an exciting programme of independent study which exploits the Library’s outstanding poetry collection.

The project takes poetry out of the classroom and affirms the joy of reading it for pleasure; students respond creatively and critically, each finding their own inspiration and areas of interest.

The summer term builds on this by working on skills in unseen analysis. All students have the opportunity to take part in the Dodd Public Speaking Competition.

Assessment is carried out at regular intervals during the year, upon completion of each unit. The results of these assessments will be used in conjunction with the final Summer Examination to determine a final year-end mark.

As a complement to the literature explored in class, the English Department strives to ensure that all pupils are reading independently and ambitiously.

Teachers will help pupils to choose suitable books from a wide range of challenging fiction – classics and contemporary texts, fiction and non-fiction – and will allow time in class for pupils to read and discuss their chosen book.

We will offer the Edexcel IGCSE courses in English and English Literature.

English Language.

The English Language IGCSE is a wide-ranging, exciting course which teaches students to become critical readers and effective writers.

The course combines study of literary non-fiction, such as travel writing by Benjamin Zephania and George Alagiah, as well as literary fiction and poetry by writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Susan Hill.

Students also learn to write in different forms and for different audiences: one week they may be crafting an eerie piece for a ghost story; the next, polishing up a fiery political speech.

English Literature.

The English Literature IGCSE follows the pattern of the Language course, by inviting students to engage with the best literature written in English in the past 500 years.

In addition to studying a Shakespeare play, students will also read modern drama, such as Miller’s A View from the Bridge, as well as poetry from different centuries and continents.

The course includes the study of unseen poetry, which helps students become confident readers of literature from all periods.

Both courses are assessed through examinations at the end of Year 11.

Students who enjoy literature, discussion and the surprise of a fresh perspective will thrive on this course. The ability to express complex ideas with lucidity is highly regarded, and students receive guidance on how to write essays that combine clarity, sensitivity and force.

English is a subject which can support applications to almost any university course, and is one of the Russell Group’s ‘facilitating subjects’.

Someone who has studied English can construct compelling arguments from complex information, evaluating and balancing conflicting perspectives, and possesses the independence of mind that is crucial for successful future study and for adult life.

Students read widely around the course in order to become more sophisticated, discerning and knowledgeable in their response to literature. Reflections on wider reading are kept within a student reading log which acts as a catalyst for further discussion and lines of enquiry.

By the time you sit your exams in the Upper Sixth you will be a confident reader of the whole range of English Literature, fully equipped to pursue a degree course in this field. If your higher education ambitions lie elsewhere, your two years studying English will have trained you to write concisely, think independently and marshal large quantities of information, constructing pithy arguments and drawing convincing conclusions.

Each year the department runs a number of trips to the theatre and is always looking for opportunities to enrich the students’ cultural and literary experience.

In recent years, Epsom Sixth Form English students have attended a variety of lecture study days in London from eminent university professors, visited Italy on a cultural course, enjoyed a number of events from visiting writers and academics and contributed to the College Creative and Literary Society.

Every year students have gone on to top Russell Group universities to read English, and have enjoyed a high success rate in applying to Oxbridge.

The English Department’s enrichment program exposes students to a wealth of literature outside the A-level course along with consistent interview practice, to prepare them for further study and application to Oxbridge.

Course overview.

The Edexcel A-level in English Literature is a two-year course. At the end of the course students sit three exams and submit a coursework essay of 2,500-3,000 words.

By the end of the A-level course, students are working at an impressively sophisticated level, and achieve excellent results.

Over the course of two years, students will study eight set texts, learning about them in their literary and historical contexts, as well as completing an independent coursework essay on a question of their choice.

This 2,500-3,000-word essay gives you the opportunity to explore your own interests, choosing your own question under the expert guidance of your subject teacher.

Component 1: Drama

  • Section A: Shakespeare (one essay question, incorporating ideas from wider critical reading)
    Section B: Other drama (one essay question)

Component 2: Prose

  • One comparative essay question on two prose texts from a chosen theme (at least one of the texts must be pre-1900)

Component 3: Poetry

  • Section A: Post-2000 Specified Poetry (one comparative essay question on an unseen modern poem written post-2000 and one named poem from the studied contemporary text)
  • Section B: Specified Poetry Pre or Post-1900 (one essay question


Component 4: Non-examination assessment (coursework)

  • One extended comparative essay referring to two texts (advisory total word count 2,500-3,000)

Core Curriculum.

For students who want to continue to pursue English Literature and Language, but whose academic ambitions require A-levels in other subjects, we offer a wide-array of Core Curriculum options.

English Option

For those wishing to advance their skills in writing and spoken English, the department offers Core Curriculum English in the Sixth Form.

This develops skills in persuasive and argumentative writing to a level far beyond IGCSE. Students analyse how writers seek to manipulate their readers, understanding the rhetorical devices employed to sway a reader to their point of view.

Advanced Placement

The department follows the Advanced Placement course in English Language and Composition, which is the equivalent of an AS-level.

This course is unique in its focus on helping students become better writers, and is quite distinct from AS English Language courses, whose focus is on the study of language in wider contexts. It is a natural progression from IGCSE and is suitable for scientists as well as humanities specialists, and makes excellent preparation for university study.

English Speaking

In addition to this, students prepare for the English Speaking Board Level 3 certificate in spoken English.

This is the equivalent of a Grade 8 music exam, and demonstrates students’ ability to speak fluently and confidently in different contexts. The English Speaking Board is a widely respected body whose qualifications are highly regarded by universities and businesses.

Epsom’s proximity to London and several repertory theatres – Orange Tree, Richmond; Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, etc – makes it possible to introduce English students to live theatre.

This is an essential element of the English students’ experience and should be encouraged.

It is also a crucial element of the students’ overall cultural experience and education and the Department hopes that trips will cause as little disruption as possible but that, where disruption to other activities is unavoidable, members of the school will be understanding.

IGCSE and Sixth Form pupils should attend, where feasible, performances of set texts – Shakespeare in particular – though the educational benefits of seeing any play should be borne in mind.

In recent years, Epsom Sixth Form English students visited the Cheltenham Literature Festival, attended a cultural course in Italy, and contributed to the Creative and Literary Society.

Dodd Speech Prizes.

Dodd Speech Prizes are awarded separately, one to each year group, for best performance in a formal debate. This is currently organised by the Head of Department and is an event to which parents are invited.

Claude Calthrop Essay Prize.

This is awarded to a member of the Lower School. The prize is awarded to a pupil who has achieved an exceptionally high standard in their coursework.

Barford Essay Prize.

This is awarded to a member of the English Sixth form for an essay on a topic set in second half of the Lent Term and handed in at the start of the Summer Term.

Rosebery Literature Prize.

This is awarded to a member of the English Sixth Form for academic excellence and achievement during the Upper Sixth year, on the basis of recommendations by members of the Department.

John Ingram Poetry Prizes.

Awarded to:

  • A member of the Sixth Form.
  • A member of Year 11.
  • A member of Year 10.
  • A member of Year 9.