In Part 4 - Literature: critical study we examine literary texts through a more form-focused lens. This is to say that close reading, textual analysis and critical literacy are at the heart of Part 4. There are several requirements to consider when engaging in texts throughout Part 4. 


When selecting texts, it is important to keep the nature of the corresponding assessment in mind. Since students will be speaking about a passage from one of their Part 4 works, there should be a significant quantity of stylistic and structural features in these works. Poetry tends to be popular in Part 4, as poems are often dense in their use of language. Literary texts in Part 4 do not have to have a common theme or genre, but they must all be taken from the Prescribed List of Authors (PLA)

Two literary texts, both from the PLA.

Three literary texts, all from the PLA.


The following hours of tuition should be spent on Part 4 and preparation for its corresponding form of assessment

30 hours

50 hours


In the individual oral commentary, students receive a 40-line passage from one of the Part 4 works. There are 20 minutes to prepare a 10-minute commentary on the text, after which a 5-minute discussion ensues. This form of Internal Assessment counts towards 15% 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 38

Justine Ehlers 4 May 2017 - 15:17

Hello! For one of my IOC texts, I would like to choose Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is a fantastic text for close reading - I have used it for A Level coursework. Armitage is on the PLA but I am a little worried because this text is strictly speaking a "translation" from the Middle English original poem. Is it still valid to do? And also (this is only my first year teaching the course - apologies for so many questions) - if my Part 3 and Part 4 texts are A Doll's House (translation, 19th century), Educating Rita (free choice), Armitage's Gawain, and The Great Gatsby (America rather than Europe), have I fulfilled all the various requirements? Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 5 May 2017 - 01:23

Hi Justine,

I am not familiar with the text, but everything I read about it makes it clear that this is a translation. That worries me. And that's why you've asked us the question. And yet, he's on the PLA and so is a valid author to use in Part 4. I genuinely don't have a confident answer on this one. However, you need certainty before teaching it.

I would ask IB Answers on the OCC. They will give you the final approval you seek. A simple question like "Can I teach Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Part 4 of the IB Language and Literature course?" should suffice.

If the text is approved, then your syllabus looks good to go in terms of requirements: two time periods, two places, and two genres. it also looks like a lot of fun to teach!


David McIntyre 5 May 2017 - 02:30

You can, as Tim suggests, Justine, ask for absolute clarity from IB Answers, but I struggle to think this should be problematic. After all, it's question of modernising a (13th century? 14th century?) poem for a contemporary reader. However, since neither Tim nor I 'speak for' the IBO, caution suggests you get in touch with the movers and shakers.

Which reminds me... I haven't read this poem, although I seem to recall a funny anecdote about how Armitage was 'received' when, already commissioned to write the poem , he went to the British Library to see the original manuscript. The detail escapes me, but I imagine you can imagine what happened when the boy from Huddersfield travelled to London and asked to see the establishment's priceless document.



Justine Ehlers 5 May 2017 - 07:28

Thank you so much for your advice. I will ask IB Answers but am hoping that, since Armitage is on the PLA with no caveats, the poem will be acceptable. Certainly, the A Level board took David's view of its being a contemporary reworking rather than a straight translation, and so permitted it for coursework even though they don't allow us to use translated texts for that module.

I will let you know what they say!

I will have to look up the Armitage and the British Library anecdote!

Justine Ehlers 9 May 2017 - 08:53

Just to update - I have received a reply from IB Answers and they have decreed that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight counts as a translated text and therefore is not permissible. I am very disappointed, I must say, and feel that if we are not permitted to choose freely from a writer's entire body of work, that should be made clear on the PLA.

David McIntyre 10 May 2017 - 03:27

Hi Justine,

I don't wish to comment on the IB's decision, however I agree that greater clarity would help teachers.

For what it is worth, I recall, a few years ago, reading a section of a subject report where I found myself in strong disagreement. Through my IB coordinator, I expressed my disagreement and received, in return, a considered response. In other words, the response from IB Answers may be 'the last analysis, but you should not be put off making a counter-representation to the IB on this issue. You never know.

I guess Tim and I were right to urge caution, and I guess my optimism was misplaced.


sebastian wierny 12 July 2017 - 08:46

Hell David and Tim,

Could I have your thoughts and comments on the following choice of texts?

(I decided to scrap "Don Quixote" given that I just read that the recommended allocated time is 25 hours (25x45 min periods in my case) for part 3 SL, and 20 hours for HL. There is no way that I can cover the two parts of the book in that short amount of time).


1) Crime and Punishment-PLT (SL)

2) Lolita (Nabokov)-PLA (SL)

3) Waiting for Godot-PLA (HL)


1) The Tempest (Shakespeare)-PLA (SL)

2) Robert Browning's poetry-PLA (SL)

3) What genre would you include here based on my other choices? (HL) (any particular texts that you could recommend?)



David McIntyre 12 July 2017 - 16:57

Hi Sebastian,

As always, it is challenging to express a view without knowing your students or their circumstance. I guess that whilst many issues inform text choice, the (likely) response of students should be paramount. I think - and this is just my view - that students should leave the course with a sense that they have enjoyed it, that they have been challenged, and that they feel inclined to continue reading throughout their lives. If the effect of text choice is that students are turned off, feel disinclined to read on, and think that literature is esoteric, having nothing to do with them, then clearly the choice was inappropriate.

There is 'a lot of canonicity' in your selection, and potentially a lot to read. This is simply an observation, Sebastian, nothing more. You may like to consider, for example, a shorter contemporary novel or play as your third Part 4 choice (whilst keeping in mind that whatever you select must 'work' for the IOC). Also, note that students can sometimes feel it is easier to tackle poetry and (to a lesser extent) drama in the IOC; they may find prose more challenging.

My comments, I acknowledge are very broad brush, but I hope provide some food for thought.



sebastian wierny 12 July 2017 - 21:58

Hi David,

Thanks for the extremely useful comments. I think that the 'a lot of canonicity' observation is spot on... I would definitely need to include a more contemporary ('less canonical text') so that 16-17-year old students are not thrown off by the language and style. No idea which text to choose, as the ones that seem to be very popular, "The Road" for example, have very depressing topics. I will do my best to try to find, at least, one modern novel that is more accessible and teenage friendly ....

One more question: when you say that my text choices seem be "too much to read" are you referring to the actual length of the books I chose?

Would you by any chance, based on you experience, have a recommended number of pages (for novels) in relation to the allocated number of hours? (20-25 hours per text)
For example "Don Quixote" (which was my first choice) has approx. 1300 pages between the two parts. Thus, I decided to scrap it immediately when I took in consideration the number of hours devoted to teaching it.



David McIntyre 17 July 2017 - 18:53

Hi Sebastian,

I can only write from experience in responding: I am referring to the amount of reading - that is the cumulative amount. Whilst it's important not to be too instrumental, it is probably not worth the time (in my view) in only reading longer texts. There is no 'payback', I suggest, in terms of potential advantage in exams, and it may be said that the opposite is the case if too much time reading long works is at the cost of skills development. I am not hostile to longer works, of course, but you do need to balance with the long(er) with the short(er).

I also think you are right: Too much misery literature can be somewhat off-putting for younger readers (or anyone!). Best of luck in your quest for less depressing reading!

Kind regards,


Anthony Bigornia 14 August 2017 - 23:16

Hi Tim and David,

I'm considering exploring the work by Martin Luther King Jr. Now according to the definition, you need 5-8 essays or 10-15 letters. What I am wondering is if the transcript of a speech would fit into either of these molds.



Tim Pruzinsky 15 August 2017 - 01:06

Hi Anthony,

If I understand your question, it is "how does the IB categorize MLK Jr's speeches - or any speeches - in the PLA"? I have to imagine that his speeches "count" towards the total number of works needed to be studied. I would put it under "letters" to be on the safe side since it is a bit nebulous.


Petrina McGregor 15 August 2017 - 11:54

During last academic year (2016 - 2017), our IBDP1 Language A: English Lang and Lit (HL) classes were divided into two groups. For Part 4 of the course, the two teachers taught a different text. Both taught Gatsby; but one teacher taught 1984.

Staffing has meant that the two HL classes have now been combined. When it comes to the IOC, does it matter about the disparity in the texts that have been taught? Can they be examined as two different groups?

Tim Pruzinsky 16 August 2017 - 04:24

Hi Petrina,

If I understand your question, you have a group of Year 2 HL students that are now in your class, but studied different Part 4 texts because they were in different classes last year.

For the IOC, that won't be a problem. Examine the students on the texts they read/studied. Student A would be examined from a pool of extracts from Duffy, Fitzgerald, and Orwell. Student B would be examined from Duffy, Fitzgerald, and Williams. These are only examples of texts, of course.

It will mean some creative teaching on your part in terms of reviewing the texts before the IOC, but it won't be a problem with the IB.


Petrina McGregor 16 August 2017 - 12:58

Dear Tim, thank you. This comes as an enormous relief as I was having visions of frantic Saturday catch-up sessions. As for creative teaching in terms of reviewing texts - it should be fun.

elizabeth smith 17 August 2017 - 21:07

Dear Tim
I am teaching the IB Diploma Course for the first time so please forgive me if my questions seem rather basic. I have taken over from a teacher who taught the following texts for part 3: Disgrace and A Dolls House . I do believe if they are higher level students then they need a further text? For Part 4 the students have only studied one text Lucy. Am I correct in believing they have to study a further one ( if they are standard level) and two if they are higher level? I also don't understand why they have to study so many texts when only one out of the three is chosen for their individual oral commentary.

Tim Pruzinsky 18 August 2017 - 00:57

Hi Elizabeth,

Welcome to the course! It can be exciting once you set it up in a way that works for you. It's a bit more daunting to take over from someone else, but that's why we are here. Please do feel comfortable - always - to ask us questions on the site.

You will need to teach 1 more text for Part 3. It can be free choice at HL since you've hit the other requirements. Think of a contextually rich text that you like and have taught before. Also think about what pairs well with the other two texts. It will make your life easier this time around.

For Part 4, you will need two more at HL and one more at SL. They will have to come from the PLA. Maybe poetry at HL? Again, since you are new to the course, and taking over a course, I would suggest you teach texts you like and know well.

As for the IOC, the idea is that students will study all three Part 4 texts in depth, but they will only be assessed on one. To run 3 IOCs for each text is logistically impossible, and so that is why they aren't assessed on all three. And to have students read just 1 text would mean the course lacks the depth and breadth expected at IB.

I hope that explains the rationale behind the IOC and helps you sort out your syllabus. I would teach the Part 4 texts first, complete the IOC, and then move to the Part 3 text since they will have to do the IOC before their Paper 2 exam in May.

And again, please do ask any follow-up questions about this or anything else. David and I are here to help and support!


elizabeth smith 20 August 2017 - 09:29

Dear Tim

I am going to study a selection of poems by Sylvia Plath for the IOC. Am I correct in believing that 5 to 10 poems will suffice as long as each poem is over 44 lines ?

Many thanks


Tim Pruzinsky 20 August 2017 - 09:50

Hi Elizabeth,

The PLA states that you need to study 15-20 poems. As for the IOC, the poems should be 30-40 lines in length, and no more than 40 lines total. You can study poems that are longer, but for the assessment itself, 30-40 lines is what's stated.

In terms of the number of poems selected for possible inclusion in the IOC, it will depend on the number of students in your cohort. At HL, you'll want an equal number of extracts/poems from all three texts.

I hope that clarifies some things, but do ask if you have any more questions.


elizabeth smith 21 August 2017 - 11:12

Dear Tim

This is really clear.

Thank you.



Patrick Kariku 23 August 2017 - 06:34

Hi Tim,

I'm new to the IB course this year (and taking over from someone else). Quick question re: WT2:
- we MUST submit 2 x WT2 for each HL student, correct? One from Part 3, one from Part 4?

Thanks in advance!
Sadie (logged in on a colleague's account :) )

Tim Pruzinsky 23 August 2017 - 07:29

Hi Sadie,

For HL, you submit one WT1 (from Part 3/4 OR Part 1/2) and one WT2 (from the opposite Part of the course of WT1).

So, student A can submit a WT1 from Part 2 of the course and a WT2 from Part 4. Student B can submit a WT1 from Part 3 of the course and a WT2 from Part 1.

In other words, one must come from "language" and one must come from "literature." I hope that sorts you out on that end.


GIOVANNI TOVAR 28 September 2017 - 10:42

Dear Colleagues,

It is mandatory to choose poetry in part 3 or 4? if so, the IOC gotta be based on this ?



Tim Pruzinsky 28 September 2017 - 15:11

Hi Giovanni,

No, it is not mandatory to teach poetry in Part 3 or 4. You must have 2 genres, at a minimum. Those genres are up to you. As long as your Part 4 (IOC texts) come from the PLA, they can be any genre.

At HL, a poem often appears on the Paper 1 exam and so many teachers do teach poetry in Part 4. As well, many teachers find poetry works well for the IOC. However, there is no requirement to teach poetry.


Sumathy Velusamy 2 November 2017 - 08:07

Hai Everyone,
Can anyone tell me whether A Modest Proposal alone can be taken as a work in the part 4 section


Tim Pruzinsky 2 November 2017 - 23:32

Hi Sumathy,

Swift is on the PLA for prose nonfiction; therefore, you can teach 5-8 Swift essays (including "A Modest Proposal"). However, do know that for the IOC, students will need to get extracts from several Swift essays - in addition to the other texts - and not just this one. The students should not know the extracts beforehand either.


Matthew James 13 November 2017 - 05:52

Hi both,

Was wondering about my SL choices of texts for Part 3 and Part 4 (not confirmed yet - want your thoughts first!)

I'm thinking Part 3 texts
Miss Julie

Part 4 texts (IOC)
Duffy poetry (World's Wife)
Dylan Thomas (Under Milk Wood)

Across these choices I have (at least) two genres, two eras, two countries - my worry is that all the writing is European. Does this matter? Also, for future planning, does Dylan Thomas count as a different country to English writers or do Welsh/Scottish/English writers all come under a British umbrella?

Janice Carey 11 December 2017 - 14:55

I am planning on using short stories by Alice Munro and am trying to figure out how many. Does the length of the stories matter? Hers are rather long and I would like to cover the minimum. Is that 5 or 10?

Tim Pruzinsky 11 December 2017 - 23:59

Hi Janice,

The PLA states 5-10 short stories and they do this for the exact reason you state: some writers have long short stories and others are quite short. This allows teachers to make a professional judgement as to how many short stories are appropriate within that range.


Lorilie Mendoza 8 January 2018 - 15:58

Hi Tim. This is my first time to teach this course. Can you please give me a suggestion as to what topics (different genres) to teach in part 4. I need it so badly. I cannot access the OCC to search for the PLA. I think i'm lost...Thank you so much in advance....



Lorilie Mendoza 8 January 2018 - 16:03

Hi Tim. Another question, is it only one author for poetry and/or short stories? Can you please give me some list of authors? I've lost all my files from the usb where i saved my IB DOCS...

Thanks again,

David McIntyre 9 January 2018 - 09:01

Hi Lorilie,

I don't think we can really provide you with this. You NEED to have access to the PLA and the PLT. We cannot (i.e. it breaks copyright law) reproduce it hear. Since your Part 4 works must come from the PLA, and you must consider genre, period, and place (defined by the PLA) for your course as a whole, you need to get access to these documents. The good news is that these documents are readily available on the IB's websites for teachers, and your IB coordinator can (i.e. is responsible) get you log in access.

For poetry and short stories, you need to consider one work/one writer.

Kind regards,


Lorilie Mendoza 10 January 2018 - 01:13

Hi David,
I understand. We're just waiting for the email from IB to access the website. The OCC has also been closed and we need new details to access it.
Thank you..



Tim Pruzinsky 10 January 2018 - 02:47

Hi Lori,

You will have to ask your IB Coordinator for access to "My IB." It is their new portal and only your IB Coordinator or someone of that authority at your school can provide you with it.

It sounds like it is coming, and you are in the process of getting it. In the meantime, a quick google search (PLA IB) will also come up with their pre-publication PLA. It's close to the real thing and you can use it to give you a head start. From there, we can assist once you've made your text choices.


Ma Luisa Castro 10 January 2018 - 14:38

Hi, Tim and David.

Is it acceptable to do two poetry for HL in Part 4? I am thinking of studying the poems of Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney. The other literary text is Hamlet.

Please let me know whether I am still missing out on the requirements in terms of the literary texts covered in Part 3 and 4 . We did:

Part 3
The boy who harnessed the Wind (free choice)
If this Is a Man (PLT )
1984 (PLA)

Part 4

Sylvia Plath poems
Seamus Heaney poems

Tim Pruzinsky 10 January 2018 - 23:56

Hi Ma Luisa,

Everything looks in order. You can study 2 poets (if you study them as separate texts), which you have. Do know that students will have to study between 30-40 poems between the two poets + Hamlet.

You hit the time period, place, and genre requirements and so all is good in the eyes of the IB.


Ma Luisa Castro 14 January 2018 - 03:53

Thanks, Tim. I am relieved! Thanks for the help. another clarification for the poems. do all the 15 poems have to be more that 40 lines , or I can have shorter poems from the selection?

Tim Pruzinsky 14 January 2018 - 23:28

Hi Ma Luisa,

The 15 poems you study - per author - can be of varying lengths (shorter and longer than 40 lines), but you should have no more than 40 lines of poetry for the IOC itself. The might be a complete poem or it might be a portion of a poem. Both are okay.


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