Reforms to AQA GCSE English Literature Reading List

At the beginning of the week, education secretary, Michael Gove, explained that a change to the GCSE’s current syllabus would soon be arriving in order to broaden the variety of English literature that is taught in high schools across the UK.

Before Gove explained these changes, there was much speculation over the fact that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, normally a GCSE staple text, could be being removed from the English Literature GCSE course along with many other works written by authors outside of the UK; however Michael Gove talked down these claims.

Following the publication of the AQA Reading list for next year’s English Literature GCSE course, it is apparent that all texts and works are written by either British-born or British-based authors.

A spokesman speaking on behalf of the Department for Education explained that the list of texts represents the “minimum pupils will be expected to learn” and that other exam boards would be able to include works by authors from around the globe if they wish.

The works of William Shakespeare have been studied at GCSE level practically since the qualifications came into existence. So it is therefore no surprise that his plays will once again feature in the GCSE English literature course. The Shakespeare plays that are required to be taught to students are:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Macbeth
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Julius Caesar
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Tempest

As well as the works of Shakespeare, there are various texts from the 19th century that have been made compulsory to study and have been placed on the AQA reading list for the course. These include:

  • Great  Expectations [Charles Dickens]
  • A Christmas Carol [Charles Dickens]
  • Frankenstein [Mary Shelley]
  • Jane Eyre [Charlotte Bronte]
  • Pride and Prejudice [Jane Austen]
  • The Sign of Four [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde [Robert Louis Stevenson]

There are also many modern texts that are included in the syllabus from a range of authors, again all British-based, that are classed as Post 1914 works in the categories of drama and prose.  These works include:

  • The History Boys [Alan Bennett]
  • An Inspector Calls [JB Priestley]
  • DNA [Dennis Kelly]
  • A Taste of Honey [Shelagh Delaney]
  • Blood Brothers [Willy Russell]
  • The Lord of the Flies [William Goulding]
  • Animal Farm [George Orwell]
  • Anita and Me {Meera Syal]
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time [Simon Stephens]
  • Pigeon English [Stephen Kelman]
  • Never Let Me Go [Kazuo Ishiguro]


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