Part 3 - Literature: texts and contexts focuses on how context influences both the composition and the interpretation of literary texts. Here are several requirements to keep in mind when planning or studying Part 3 of the English A: language and literature course. 


Given the small number of texts, and the fact that 25% of the final IB grade is based on the way these texts are used in one essay question, we can assume that a significant amount of dedicated time and a detailed and varied approach to the texts are expected. Calendar suggestions are provided under the sequence section of the site. It makes sense to present these texts towards the end of the second year of study, as they will be the material that students will refer to on the Paper 2 part of the final exam. Another option may be to present one of the three texts during the first year, and to review it during the second half of the second year. In this case, the review of the first text, and comparisons between texts, would be planned into the study of the second and third texts from the outset. 

Standard Level Two literary texts:

One from the Prescribed Literature in Translation list (PLT),

One from the Prescribed book list (PLA) for the language studied or chosen freely, originally written in English.


Higher Level Three literary texts:


One from the PLT,

One from the PLA for the language studied,

One chosen freely, which may be in translation.



The following hours of tuition should be spent on Part 3 and preparation for its corresponding forms of assessment

 40 hours

 70 hours


The Paper 2 exam is an essay on one of six unseen questions. Students answer one of the questions with reference to at least two of the Part 3 literary works that were studied in class. Students receive 1.5 hours at SL and 2 hours at HL to write their essay. This form of assessment is also externally assessed for 25% of the final mark. 

At SL students must also write at least one written task based on a literary work from either Parts 3 or 4. At HL students must write at least one written task based on a literary work from Part 3 and also one based on a work from Part 4.

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Comments 45

Louise Davison 31 May 2016 - 09:52

I have a question regarding Paper 2 texts. I have taught SL and HL students together and consequently we studied 3 texts. In the exam, they selected their favourite two to write about. However, I am a little worried that if they don't do the text in translation in the exam this might be a problem. Is it?

Also, in the IOC, I put three text options in the boxes for all students - so my SLs had three text possibilities just like HLs. Is this a problem?

David McIntyre 31 May 2016 - 13:53

In theory, none of this is problematic, Louise. However, it may be useful to view your course in the wider context of the IB Diploma. It is important, I think, not to overload your students and, in part, the SL/HL dichotomy is intended to maintain a degree of overall balance. One can imagine that if in every subject students very taught HL courses even where they are SL students they would become quickly overloaded.

Best regards,


Taylor Madden 6 June 2016 - 21:34

Hi Tim & David,
We are looking at making a change in texts next year in Part 3. I"m wondering if the school choice text can satisfy one of the requirements of period or region. For example, if the only text we are offering in Parts 3 or 4 which comes from a time period outside of the twentieth century is our choice text, will that satisfy the requirements for variation in genre, region, and period?
Thanks for your consistent assistance.

Tim Pruzinsky 7 June 2016 - 01:22

Hi Taylor,

The free choice text can help satisfy the time period, genre, and place requirement all at the same time.

So, if you have in Parts 3 and 4 all novels, written in Europe in the 20th century, you need to use your free choice to satisfy the requirements. You might choose a play from the 19th or 21st century and written in North America to do so, for example.

It's easier to give a definitive yes or no from looking at the actually text choices, but from what you have written, it looks like the answer is yes, your free choice text will tick all the syllabus boxes.



Jess Barga 19 August 2016 - 03:15

Hi Tim and David,

I have a question about time periods. I had understood that C20 / C21 would be two different time periods, but have just noticed that Carol Ann Duffy is defined on the PLA as a C20 rather than a C21 author. My students (all year 2) have completed part 4 (using Duffy as the C21 author) and are working through part 3 this year (along with various lang texts). We have all of our texts selected and some read, so I am a bit frantic about this fact... can I consider Duffy a C21 author, as I used numerous poems from the 21st century in that unit? (All of my other authors are definitely C20.)


David McIntyre 19 August 2016 - 07:09

Hi Jess,

The time period prescription is a bit of a blunt instrument. If you have writers that are regarded as 20th century and others that are regarded as 20th/21st century writers in your syllabus as a whole, then you are, to the extent that I know, covering two time periods (and thus following course requirements.). If your course includes only writers active in, say, the 1920s, and other writers active in the 1990s, you would not be following the period requirements (albeit these authors are writing in quite different times).

So, I would suggest this: It is fine to have two different time periods - 20th and 21st century - but try to ensure that you range across the 20th century to the extent that teaching four or six texts allows.

Does this make sense, do you think?


Deborah Walker 2 September 2016 - 02:13

How do Robert Frost(PLA) poems, The Exit - PLT, and Frankenstein or Macbeth sound for part 3? For Part 4 - Their Eyes Were Watching God, Pygmalion, and Othello. Have I fulfilled the required text?

Tim Pruzinsky 2 September 2016 - 05:40

Hi Deborah,

Yep, you've fulfilled the required texts. You have 2 places, 2 genres, and 2 time periods. I'm wondering if "The Exit" is Sartre's "No Exit" for your PLT choice.

I don't think I would personally do two Shakespeare plays and so would pick Frankenstein. I also would put the Frost poems in Part 4. I think poetry and the IOC fit really well together. If you do that, I would switch out Pygmalion and put that in Part 3.

It is nice to see the balance in time periods and genres in your syllabus.


Abigail Hatch 10 September 2016 - 15:44

I'm taking over a Standard Level set and their previous teacher started John Donne's poetry for Part 3 just before the summer break. I'm planning to pick a twentieth century play as the second text ('The Visit'). Does this sound ok?

Tim Pruzinsky 11 September 2016 - 07:43

Hi Abigail,

I would say yes and no. Yes, this is acceptable by the guidelines set forth by the IB. I wonder how a student would write a Paper 2 though on the poem(s) and the play. I don't know The Visit well enough to comment, nor do I know what exact poems were studied. If you think your students will be successful on their Paper 2 based on these two texts, proceed with enthusiasm!


Abigail Hatch 13 September 2016 - 14:55

Thanks, Tim. The pupils can link them thematically, which I thought would work having looked at the types of questions on the paper. I wouldn't necessarily have picked poetry for this section, but I've inherited it as a text and, unless it would go against IB guidelines, it would cause more trouble to abandon it than to continue. I'd like to give them a shorter, more contemporary drama text to go with the poetry, but I'm flexible as to what I choose. Any advice/ideas would be gratefully received!


Tim Pruzinsky 14 September 2016 - 00:04

Hi Abby,

I find it is always difficult to take over a class and/or text. I understand you question so much better now.

If these two texts link thematically, and they could write a successful Paper 2, go for it! Because you have inherited the text (poetry), I think you've made a smart choice for a contemporary drama they can dig their teeth into. And by doing so, you might find they do really well at close analysis - something that is sometimes difficult for students in a Paper 2.

The only other option I can think of is to teach something you love that could somehow link with Donne's poetry. Because this is Part 3, you do get a free choice text and you could use it here. It doesn't need to appear on the PLA.


Abigail Hatch 14 September 2016 - 18:14

Thanks, Tim. That's really helpful.

Best wishes,

Max Foxall 4 October 2016 - 15:49

Hi David and Tim,

Would you advise against teaching 3 texts for Part 3 at SL? Obviously it gives students choice in the exam but then creates a much busier curriculum.



Tim Pruzinsky 5 October 2016 - 00:07

Hi Max,

I do advise against this.

The students have selected SL for a wide variety of reasons. To add another text into their already busy schedules, remembering they take 5 other classes plus ToK, the EE, and CAS causes me some concern. If all their SL classes "added" something, they would be overloaded with work. For that reason, I teach only 2 texts in Part 3, as prescribed by the syllabus.

Although they don't have choice in the exam, they are well-prepared to discuss both texts in Paper 2 and so I don't see it as a problem.


Sara Hayward 19 October 2016 - 15:46

Hi, I'm wondering about paper 2 and relating the characters to the authors real life. Do we end up making certain assumptions here based on our knowledge of their lives or do certain novels have more information that can be found? I am having a hard time finding information linked to 'The Importance of Being Ernest' so we end up making assumptions based on what we have learned of his life and his intentions with the novel. I hope that makes sense.
Thank you

David McIntyre 20 October 2016 - 10:00

Hi Sara,

Perfect sense :)

I think the answer is, it depends. Some writers leave us a very clear sense of their motivations. For example, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote 'Why I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper'. Not all writers are as helpful. But, even if all writers were to explain their writing, including biographical parallelisms, this does not necessarily give the writer primacy of perspective. The text exists it its own right, and the reader's perspective matters too.

I wouldn't get too engrossed in the lives of writers. Their lives can or do inform their writings more or less, but this knowledge simply flavours or enhances our understanding of a work; the meaning remains unstable and subject to negotiation.

In Paper 2, it can be useful for students to hedge their bets through low modality expressions such as 'it may be suggested', 'it can be argued' etc. This establishes a connection between text and author without being deterministic.

I hope this helps.


Sara Hayward 24 October 2016 - 21:33

Great! That does help thank you!

Nazia adeel 5 November 2016 - 14:00

Hi David,
I have chosen Pygmalion, Oedipus Rex and Persepolis as my three texts for Part 3.
Please comment on their suitability for my guidance.


Tim Pruzinsky 6 November 2016 - 03:24

Hi Nazia

While I don't know your Part 4 texts, and so I cannot comment on the suitability of the entire syllabus, all three of these texts work.

At HL, you can have your free choice in translation and it looks as if you've chosen Persepolis. You also have 2 plays that could match well, one in translation and one originally written in English.

I say go for it and see how it works for you and your students. In the eyes of the IB, you have fulfilled the Part 3 requirements.


Nazia adeel 11 November 2016 - 17:04

Thank you Tim,
My Part 4 syllabus is:
Poetry John Keats, To the lighthouse by Virginia Wolf (HL), Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Olga Montenegro 12 December 2016 - 16:39

Dear all,

I would love to pick your brain about selecting better texts for Part III. We are currently using "The Stranger", "1984" and "A Clockwork Orange." However, we have noticed that "The Stranger" is our weakest book. Would Marguerite Duras book "L'Amant" be a good substitute? If not, could you suggest one book that you think might fit the Translations requirement? Many thanks!

Tim Pruzinsky 12 December 2016 - 23:58

H Olga,

I don't know "L'Amant" and so I can't comment on the suitability. It also looks like you are wanting a novel in translation. Might I suggest you look at the following to see if any might work:

1. The Sailor who Fell From Grace From the Sea
2. Paradise of the Blind
3. The Sorrows of War
4. Death and the Maiden (play)

These aren't the only options out there, but they might work for you and your students.


Franklin Delano 15 December 2016 - 03:31

Tim, can you comment on whether SLs must ONLY do two texts, or can do a third if they/we so choose? That is, is two the 'maximum' or only the 'norm'?

In a related question, looking back at Nazia's choices above, I assume they will only work if she's done a work from another century in Part 4? That is, if Persepolis is her work in translation, then Oedipus Rex must only be for HLs (as it's also in translation), leaving Pygmalion for SLs -- so she needed another 'old' piece for Part 4, correct? I am asking for personal reasons tied to my question above -- I'm struggling with doing Persepolis, Antigone and Death and the Maiden in Part 3, with DATM supposed to be for only HLs because I need Antigone for the century requirements (I inherited grade 12s who had already completed same-century work in grade 11). But Persepolis and Antigone for SLs seems problematically like Persepolis and Oedipus ... help! How big a deal is this? Can I solve it by letting SLs read a third work?

Tim Pruzinsky 15 December 2016 - 07:13

Hi Miranda,

2 texts only for SL. The guide is clear on this. And adding a third text ignores all the work they have in their other HL classes. Unfortunately, I don't think it's in the spirit of the programme to be "adding" texts to the syllabus for class study.

I'm a tad confused by your booklist for SL and HL. What I understand is that your SL class is (or has?) studied two works in translation for Part 3? Is that correct? Have you already studied them both? If so, I think you'll have to pick up a third text even though you shouldn't and so you can ignore the paragraph above that I just wrote. One text be in orginally written in English and "Death and the Maiden" technically qualifies for this according to PLA rules. If however, at SL, you haven't studied both translated texts, drop "Persepolis" so you adhere to the syllabus guidelines.

I don't know where you are at in the teaching of these texts and how far along you've come. A bit more info will help and if you need to solve an "issue" because you inherited a class, I think that's okay, given the circumstances as you wouldn't normally do this. It's not ideal, but then again, stuff happens.


Franklin Delano 17 December 2016 - 00:11

Marney here - you are amazing (and amazingly fast!) I did Persepolis upon my arrival four months ago and had then planned to do DATM with all students and Antigone with HL. But when I was told kids had yet to do a different century, I flipped the last two and just did Antigone with all. Stupidly, I didn't think to double-check their list carefully against the PLA or I would have realized, as I did last night, that they did Chopin last year and she is actually down as 19th century, not 20th. Anyways, I went ahead with Antigone, but I totally blanked on the need for one work in Part 3 to be originally in English (and frankly even if I had remembered, it's so easy to treat Persepolis as if it IS an English language text, given how no one talks about different translated versions like they do with Antigone, Satrapi gives interviews in English etc!). I know it shouldn't affect the students writing Paper 2 according to the 2015 subject guide: "A significant number of centres selected two translated texts failing to note the need to have at least one text originally written in the Language A. There are currently no penalties applied for this error but the stipulation is made to ensure teachers select suitable texts and should be adhered to". But still! Do you recommend I do DATM as a third text with them then? Or to put it another way, do DATM as a second text if I write 'Persepolis OR Antigone' as my text 1, and then DATM as my text 2, as was suggested to me by a Paper 2 examiner? Thanks for any advice!

Tim Pruzinsky 17 December 2016 - 02:36

Hi Marney,

Thanks for clarifying.

I'd give the same advice as the Paper 2 examiner. Text 1 is either "Persepolis" or "Antigone" and text two is "Death and the Maiden." It's not ideal, but it's a one time issue. I think that should sort you out and put your worries to rest.

Enjoy the super long holiday at FDR!


Franklin Delano 18 December 2016 - 20:08

Yes, I hear you used to work here! And my dear friend works at ISB (where her colleague is the Paper 2 examiner who advised me similarly to you) and actually teaches in your old classroom - small world :)

We're going to proceed with the 'or' caveat and have SL kids read DATM too then - thanks for the advice. I hope we can count on the note in the 2015 subject report (about students not being penalized if they use two works from translation) should any of them still reference both P and A even after reading DATM, though? And for the HLs, we can simply have those three books listed with 'and' instead of 'or', correct?

Tim Pruzinsky 19 December 2016 - 01:48

Hi Marney,

Small world!

I'm just finally understanding all of our back and forth and putting it together for both SL and HL. It took me a bit. My advice would be as follows and apologies in advance for the earlier confusion:

SL: Have students use either P or A as their text in translation. Do not have them write about both P and A in the exam. While you are right about the 2015 examiner report, you've made the correction in time and so they have the ability to write about DATM in conjunction with either P or A. However, you may decide to choose a different text instead of DATM (as per my comments below). I don't know if you have a split HL/SL class as I sometimes did.

HL: I was so wrapped up in SL that I just caught the HL mistake. Dorfman isn't on the PLA. You can have 2 HL texts in translation and that's acceptable. One acts as your free choice. So studying P and A is okay. However, you have to have a text from the PLA and DATM doesn't work here as Dorfman isn't listed on the PLA.

That puts you in a bind. I think you'll "get away" with it and your students won't be penalized (as per the 2015 subject report), but it would make more sense to pick a different text originally written in English and coming from the PLA. Perhaps "The Crucible" or "Master Harold and the Boys" would work instead. While I love teaching DATM, it can't be your HL text in English.

I hope that makes more sense now and clears things up.


Franklin Delano 19 December 2016 - 11:00

yes, I figured this out. Sigh to taking over in grade 12! I'm going to have the HLs also do the Persepolis OR Antigone caveat, then DATM can count as the other translated work (bizarrely it's on the PLT even though we read the English version) and I'm thinking of Bluest Eye (they can read it over the upcoming break and we'll study it when they get back). That works, correct?

Franklin Delano 19 December 2016 - 11:04

or do you think Crucible works better thematically with the books I've said they already read?

Franklin Delano 19 December 2016 - 13:17

wait (and sorry for all the comments!) - I think I'm just going to do Atwood's short stories Moral Disorder with ALL students -- she counts as 21st century (turns out only HLs did Chopin here so I still need a different century for SLs if I write Antigone OR Persepolis) AND she's on the PLA AND her stories have plenty of thematic overlap with our other works AND she is just plain awesome :) So SLs will say: Persepolis OR Antigone AND Atwood, and HLs will say: Persepolis OR Antigone AND DATM AND Atwood. Makes me sad because I'd love to do DATM with SLs but this seems to solve all the paperwork problems even if it's less good for the kids! Sound good?

Tim Pruzinsky 19 December 2016 - 14:51

Hi Marney,

Yes, it can be so complicated taking over a grade 12.

That works. Good luck!


Sonia Gupta 6 January 2017 - 06:10

Hi Tim,
Can you help with some resources for One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich?

Tim Pruzinsky 7 January 2017 - 03:23

Hi Sonia,

I've posted to someone else about this before. Here were my suggestions:

"Some resources that may be of use. I have a document from a colleague that lists these (unfortunately, the document is a pdf and it doesn't list any identifying information).

“The Gulag at War: Stalin’s Forced Labor System in Light of the Archives” by Bacon

“Solzhenitsyn” by Burg and Feifer

“Solzhenitsyn: Critical Essays and Documentary Materials” by Dunlop

“The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalin Era” by Alexeyeva and Goldberg

They are more for you than the students, but I thought I would share."


Sonia Gupta 7 January 2017 - 08:27

Thanks Tim,
Unfortunately I donot have access to any of these books. Can you suggest any more resources?

Tim Pruzinsky 8 January 2017 - 02:56

Hi Sonia,

Those four books were my best recommendations for secondary reading.


Holli Robinson 15 January 2017 - 08:46

Hi Tim,

I just want to clarify the meaning of "different periods" according to PLA - does it mean that works have to be written in different periods or set in different periods?

If it's the former, presumably Streetcar Named Desire and Tea House won't work?



Tim Pruzinsky 15 January 2017 - 08:55

Hi Holli,

Generally, periods, for purposes set by the IB, refers to centuries. It is also referring to when it was written, not the time period it is set.

And remember, you look at your syllabus as a whole, not just Part 3, and so if you have a different period (i.e. century) in Part 4, you're okay with two 20th century texts in Part 3 (assuming we are discussing SL here).


Sonali Joshi 20 January 2017 - 05:25

HiTim, we are looking for our Part 3 (SL) group-The women at Point Zero and The Importance of being Earnest / A Street Car Named Desire. Please advise between TIOBE and ASCND which would be better.

Tim Pruzinsky 22 January 2017 - 11:45

Hi Sonali,

It's really up to you. I also don't know your Part 4 works and I like to think about creating an entire syllabus, not just parts. And, of course, do you want to, or need to teach a 19th century text. If so, "Earnest" is the way to go. If not, you'll want to think about the benefits of a tragedy or a comedy; you will want to think about which one pairs better with "Point Zero" in your eyes; you will want to think about your students and their ability level; and you will want to think about what type of syllabus you want for your students when looking at it overall.

I think both are great plays and I think both could work well. It's really up to you as you have more knowledge - on the ground - in this case.


Stewart Schmid 23 February 2017 - 04:46

Hi Guys,
I have a Lang/Lit extended essay question I hope one you can answer. I have a student who has done his extended essay on Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements. He has embedded an image to help support his analysis, but is having a hard time finding the advert creator. He wants to cite it correctly (works cited page) so there is not an issue with unintentional plagiarism. The advertisement is for an American company called Kenwood. Can he cite the company name on the works cited? Or do you recommend another possible way to cite the advert.

Thanks for your advice,

Tim Pruzinsky 24 February 2017 - 00:09

Hi Stewart,

I understand the concern. I'm having the same issue with some WT1's right now. I'm not too worried about who created it, although that would be ideal. I'm more worried, with my students, about where they got it from. As long as they can show that, I'm okay with it.

So, he must be able to find the image somewhere online. How did he get it in the first place? Even if he has to cite something like "Pinterest," and even though that person who posted it didn't create it, citing it in that way should be enough.

That way, the examiner (or any researcher, since that's the whole point), could go to the source and see what he is referring to. I think that should work.


Rene Romero 24 February 2017 - 21:51

We've made the change from Literature to Language and Literature. The works I'm thinking for Part 3 are: Woman at Point Zero, Streetcar named Desire, and The Namesake (Lahiri) as my free choice. Do these seem to work okay?


David McIntyre 25 February 2017 - 01:40

Hi Rene,

It looks fine. I taught The Namesake on an undergraduate course quite a few years ago; the students enjoyed it.

Obviously, you need to give consideration to genre and period in your Part 4 choices to adhere to course requirements.

Best regards,


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