Part 3

  • Part 3: Literature - texts and contexts invites us to look at literary texts in the contexts in which they were written and read.
  • The requirements for Part 3 are presented in this section, along with suggestions on how to meet them. 
  • Strategies on how to meet the learning outcomes can also be found in this section. 

Selected Pages


Requirements 6 November 2013

Part 3 - Literature: texts and contexts focuses on how context influences both the composition and the interpretation...


Outcomes 12 July 2012

Below are the three learning outcomes that should be met while studying Part 3 of the English A: Language...


Critical Discourse Analysis 5 June 2012

By Debra William-Gualandi Critical discourse analysis (CDA) covers a number of methods and theoretical underpinnings...


Works 18 February 2012

The nature of Part 3 means that lessons are organized around literary works. Because Part 3 works should be contextually...


Theoretical reading 27 December 2011

What is the philosophy behind Part 3: Literature - text and context? By reading more background information on literary...

Stylistics 5 June 2012

By Debra Williams-Gualandi Stylistics as it has developed in the twentieth century may be considered the study of how...

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Comments 32

Laura Callen 12 April 2017 - 19:05

Wondering if I can run some ideas by you?
Can you tell me if these work?
For L&L SL Part 3: Things Fall Apart (novel, Nigeria 1870-1890, written 1958) & Persepolis (autobiographical graphic novel, 1970s Iran)
For L&L SL Part 4: Grapes of Wrath (novel, 1930s) & The Kite Runner (novel, 1970s) (or I could do Hamlet instead of Kite Runner - if you think I need a drama)


Laura Callen 12 April 2017 - 19:11

Or I could do Part 4: Grapes of Wrath & selected poems of Langston Hughes

David McIntyre 13 April 2017 - 03:33

There is a lot to think about here, Laura.

If you go for your initial option (i.e. sans Hamlet), do you have a second period represented in your selection, where period refers to the time in which the text was published, not the historical setting of the text?

If you include Hamlet, you are fine for periods.

Is The Kite Runner on the PLA (I haven't checked)? If it isn't you can't use it in Part 4. Hamlet would work in this respect.

If you include The Gapes of Wrath, that is a big novel that will take a lot of time to cover. Do you have enough time in your teaching? You may have, and you may see benefit in reading a big, canonical text. However, against this is the time taken from other potential teaching and learning opportunities.

If you teach Persepolis in Part 3, students will write about it in their paper 2 exam. It is a popular text, but it may be said that many students come to the paper 2 exam without a sound understanding of the text as an aesthetic construction, and do poorly in criterion C. So, something else to consider.

I am not offering you much in the way of answers - that's not my place, I feel; rather, I am asking you to think about the implications of your text choice.

The stipulations that exist around period, place, genre, the PLA and the PLT are all absolutely non-negotiable, and clearly outlined in the course study guide. Thus, whatever other decisions you make, you have to ensure you get this right.

I hope this helps, and do come back with further questions when you have a clearer idea of what you will teach.

Best regards,


Laura Callen 13 April 2017 - 16:20

Thanks David,
Based on your advice, here is what I have come up with...
For L&L SL Part 3:
Novel: Things Fall Apart (novel, Nigeria 1870-1890, written 1958)
2 Novellas: The Bluest Eye (novella, 1970 ) & The Heart of Darkness (novella, 1901)

For L&L SL Part 4:
Hamlet (drama, 17th century)
Great Gatsby (novel, 1920s)


David McIntyre 14 April 2017 - 00:36

It doesn't quite work, unfortunately, Laura.

In Part 3, you require one text in translation chosen from the PLT (at SL). Please refer to the 'syllabus content' section of the course study guide. Whilst a text originally written in English may be on the PLT, you cannot choose these texts; you can only choose texts originally written in another language.

One further thing: At what point does a short story become a novella become a novel? You would almost certainly be fine to use either The Bluest Eye or Heart of Darkness (for the purpose of responding to a Paper 2 prompt). You can decide if the time you have for teaching is best spent on other things, or if you wish to teach both Morrison and Conrad. I think, anyway, that without much argument, The Bluest Eye can be classified as a novel.

I hope this helps. By all means, write back when you have revised your list.

Kind regards,


Cassandra Van Oort 9 May 2017 - 15:51


I am considering using The Crucible and Persepolis for my Part 3 texts in Standard Level. Is Persepolis acceptable given it was originally written in English?


David McIntyre 10 May 2017 - 03:30

Hi Cassandra,

Persepolis was originally written in French. It is on the PLT, and therefore it is an acceptable Part 3 choice.

I hope this helps,


Jason Fox 15 May 2017 - 15:01

I am wondering about your experience using a collection of short stories for Part 3. I can imagine the variety of characters and themes might be an advantage when choosing a Paper 2 question, but I can also envision students having trouble keeping track of characters.

Specifically, my students are interested in reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I'm trying to choose between her short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck and her novel Half of a Yellow Sun. I've read a few of the stories and am halfway through the novel, and while they both seem appropriate for Part 3 in my judgment as a relatively new teacher, I'm hoping for advice from those of your who have used those texts or possibly another short story collection.


Tim Pruzinsky 16 May 2017 - 10:27

Hi Jason,

I haven't used short stories for Part 3. I have a colleague who teaching "The Thing Around Your Neck" in the Literature course and loves it. But that's a whole different assessment and she uses it in a whole different part of the syllabus.

I've used short stories before for the IOC and I didn't love it. Students had to remember so many different plots, characters, ideas, and so on that I thought it unnecessarily complicated things.

I'm of two minds. You can play it safe and go with the novel. It will work for Paper 2 and can be used quite well. There's nothing that should stop you from using it. However, if you want to experiment with your teaching, push yourself, and take a risk so that you can improve even more, I would say go for the short stories. See what happens. Maybe you will find it rewarding and exciting and your students will be really engaged and into them. Maybe they won't love or be interested in or even be able to talk intelligently about all of them, but a couple will stand out. And that will be worth it for you.

It sounds as if with either text you would put together thoughtful and meaningful lessons. It also seems like you would make sure they were prepared for the exam with either text. Both can work.

My sense is that if you are new, go with what feels comfortable. For most of us, that would be the novel. I do believe that experimentation rarely hurts our students though, and that it helps you become a stronger, more capable teacher. Some of my best moments have been when I have failed, reflected about the failure, learned from it, and made improvements for the future. And I don't think my students ever knew and I don't think they were at a disadvantage because of it.

Go with your gut on this one.


Jason Fox 16 May 2017 - 13:33

Dear Tim,
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments.
Best regards,

Elizabeth Koshy 6 July 2017 - 06:47

Dear David,
Clarification required on Part 3 works.
The works chosen are 1984 by George Orwell and An Anthology of Commonwealth poetry by C.D.Narasimhaiah.
The second work is not there in the PLA list, but in the anthology there are collections of poems from PLA listed poets like-Nissim Ezekiel, Shaw Neilson,Judith Wright A.K.Ramanujan and Jayanta Mahapatra.
So for Part 3 second work, can I select these poets and deal with their poems for the students and for IOC extracts?

Elizabeth Koshy

David McIntyre 9 July 2017 - 11:07

Hi Elizabeth,

Apologies for a delayed response. I am currently on holiday with very limited access to Internet.

I'm not entirely sure what you are asking. Part 4 works (not Part 3) inform the IOC. If you are asking about texts for Part 4 (and thus the IOC), the works must come from the PLA, and you are not, unfortunately, able to construct the kind of anthology you suggest.

Let me know, please, if I haven't quite understood your question.



Elizabeth Koshy 10 July 2017 - 10:50

Hi David,
Sorry it is for Part 4 works. The work 'An anthology of Commonwealth poetry' by C,D.Narasimhaiah is not listed in PLA, The anthology consists of a collection of 4-5 poems written by acknowledged poets in the PLA list like-Nissim Ezekiel, Shaw Neilson,Judith Wright A.K.Ramanujan and Jayanta Mahapatra. . So as a whole for poetry, can I deal with couple of selected poems of these poets from the anthology.Is it accepted under Part 4,as these poets are there in the PLA list even though the anthology and its author C.D.Narasimhaiah is not mentioned.
-If this sort of an option is not accepted for part 4, then could I use the anthology under Part 3 ,' schools free choice work'.

David McIntyre 10 July 2017 - 13:58

Hi Elizabeth,

If the work is not on the PLA it cannot be used. In addition, the PLA tells teachers that 'texts must be from the same author'.

You can use the work as a free choice for Part 3. However, before doing so, I would think about the potential challenges of writing well about these poems in a Paper 2 exam.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,


Elizabeth Koshy 11 July 2017 - 08:57

Hi David,
Thanks a lot for the clarification. As you have mentioned, it is indeed challenging as a Part 3 comparative work for Paper 2.

Elizabeth Koshy

Dorcas Tirhas 27 July 2017 - 05:45

Hi David/Tim,

Could I ask if "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is a suitable text to do in Part 3 or is it too short and not considered a Novel?


Tim Pruzinsky 27 July 2017 - 13:23

Hi Dorcas,

There is a large gray area here about novellas. The PLA says students should study "two or more shorter texts such as novellas."

Coming in at 64 pages (depending on the edition), this text would be considered a novella. The PLA requirement would be to find another novella. But it's also unclear. Do both novellas have to be from the same author? I would assume so as this is what has to take place for short stories. It doesn't explicitly spell this out though. You might end up with another novella from a different author, from a different context, from a different time period and geographical location. Like I said, there is some confusion here.

Could you teach "Jekyll and Hyde" in Part 3? The IB is trying to get to parity - something that is really difficult to do - so that a teacher who has their students reading "The Handmaid's Tale" isn't up against a student who only had to read "Jekyll and Hyde." Yet, one might argue that one text is harder to read, understand, and write about.

If you did choose this text, it would have to be your free choice from Part 3. I would ask IB Answers - on the OCC - for a definitive answer, as the PLA and instructions are a bit too murky for my liking.


Silke Neumann 14 August 2017 - 11:36

Hi Tim,

I am studying Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi in my course (Part 3). The first part of the book was published on its own ("The Story of a Childhood) as well as together with part 2 ("The story of a Return") in later edition. There also are complete editions that comprise all four parts. Will the students be penalized for referring to only Part 1, or Parts 1 and 2, respectively, as one work, in Paper 2 in the final exam? I am studying the edition with Parts 1+2 and am wondering whether I should restrict them to only Part 1, as it was published separately when it first came out.
Thank you for your advice on this.

Tim Pruzinsky 15 August 2017 - 01:00

Hi Silke,

Everyone who teaches "Persepolis" does it a bit differently. I don't think they will be penalized by only referring to Part 1 of the graphic memoir, but I would teach both Part 1 and 2 myself and ask students to refer to both parts in their Paper 2 - if applicable to the exam question.


Deborah Walker 16 August 2017 - 03:02

Is Frankenstein a text that can be used in Part 4 or anywhere (Part 3?). I can't find it anywhere, so does this mean it's a no go?

Thank you.

Deborah Walker 16 August 2017 - 03:09

Hi David or Tim,
Also, I am right that only two genres, two periods, and two places have to be considered during each part of 3 and 4? I got nervous now because it looked like the guide was suggesting that there be three genres, periods, and places.
Thanks again,

Tim Pruzinsky 16 August 2017 - 04:27

Hi Deborah,

Shelley is not on the PLA and so "Frankenstein" can be your free choice text for Part 3, but it cannot be used in Part 4. And yes, two genres, periods, and places is the syllabus requirement (across Part 3 and Part 4).


Deborah Walker 23 August 2017 - 02:54

Thank you, Tim. BTW, is there a method I might use to easily search the question I may I have asked. I could not remember what I had asked you guys, so it was difficult to find the place. Is there a way for me to search the site for my questions once I have posed them?

Tim Pruzinsky 23 August 2017 - 07:35

Hi Deborah,

You should be able to type in your first name into the search engine at the top right of any page. That usually brings up your "comments" or questions to make it easier.


Gordana Medakovic 24 September 2017 - 13:19

Dear David and Tim,
Please, advise on the following list for Part 3 HL:
1) Maus
2) 1984
3) The Handmaid`s tale

Tim Pruzinsky 24 September 2017 - 15:09

Hi Gordana,

Unfortunately, this won't work. You need a text in translation and it needs to come from the PLT. You'll have to switch a text out and put something from the PLT in your syllabus.


Gordana Medakovic 24 September 2017 - 22:20

Thank you Tim. How about
1) Maus,
2) One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and
3) The Death of a Salesman (or 1984)
The other set could be
1) Handmaid`s Tale
2) A Doll`s House
3) The Awakening or The Streetcar named Desire
Thanks a lot. This will really help.

Tim Pruzinsky 25 September 2017 - 08:34

Hi Gordana,

I like the first one (with 1984) or the 2nd one with "Streetcar." However, all options work and are legit in the eyes of the IB. So, the choice is really up to you. Some teachers ask their students. You might in this case or you might like one option over the other. It's totally up to you!


Delzetha Sinclair Smith 20 November 2017 - 21:00

Hello Tim and David,
it feels great to be a part of a community that offers suggestions and amazing help for teachers of IB; Thank you. here is my question - for my upper sixth SL group ,I did for part 3 STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE & THE LOVER (PLT) and for part 4 : critical study I they did GREAT GATSBY and Emily Dickinson selected for my lower sixth SL group, I chose for part 4 PURPLE HIBISCUS and SELECTED POEMS of ROBERT FROST; for the part 3 texts, I am thinking of ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DEVONISCH (PLT) but a bit uncertain as to the free choice ..Any suggestions is welcomed. And are those choices okay?
Kind Regards,

Tim Pruzinsky 21 November 2017 - 23:40

Hi Delzetha,

Your choices are fine. They hit the requirements and satisfy the IB. As for your free choice, many teachers like "1984" or "The Handmaid's Tale." Others prefer teaching something specific to their context (I don't know where you are located - and see the syllabus from Peter below to see what I mean). Finally, I've taught "The Round House" before, by Louise Erdrich for my free choice one year. I liked it, but that might be because of my background. In other words, think of a text that you like, that your students will like, that is literary in nature, and that might fit your context. It doesn't have to do all of these things, but that helps me when deciding my free choice.


Peter Pfister 21 November 2017 - 01:34

Hello Tim and David,
I was hopping around the site and came across something you mentioned about works evidencing 'geographical diversity'. For my Part 3 texts I have chosen three works that all have to do with Vietnam, though each author came from a different country. Just wanted to get your thoughts.
Paradise of the Blind - Work in Translation by a Vietnamese author (PLT)
The Quiet American- Greene - British (PLA)
Vietnamerica- Graphic novel (free choice) by an American son of Vietnamese refugees

I specifically chose them because students are studying SE Asia in their History course (and I teach in SE Asia so I wanted the material to be more connected to their experience). Now I am wondering if I am inadvertently violating some IB principle? BTW we did Dickinson, Frost, and Shakespeare for Part 4 if that makes a difference. Thanks for this and everything on your fabulous site!

Tim Pruzinsky 21 November 2017 - 23:35

Hi Peter,

I wouldn't worry. You are making your syllabus culturally relevant and providing a diversity of voices/experiences to them. Plus, as you mention, your Part 4 would hit a traditional canon - if one could term it that. To me, you've put thought and time into constructing a syllabus you think it worthwhile for your students in your context.


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