Choosing Works

How should I go about choosing works for the course?

One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of the literature course has to do with the freedom you are given to choose your works.

As you have noted from previous pages, there are particular requirements to do with Place, Period and Genre, but given that the PLA and the PLT are pretty extensive documents, as well as the fact that Part 4 allows you to choose works from anywhere, there is ample opportunity to create a really interesting, broad and balanced course that will engage your students and meet their needs through the choice of text.  

Some key principles are, however, worth bearing in mind:

  • Choose texts about which you or your students are particularly passionate or keen to explore together
  • Think about the kinds of students you have in your class – gender, cultural background, ability level etc

  • Consider the place in which you are teaching – are there particular works that could address specific local cultural, historical or social issues?

A few practical rules need to be kept in mind, however, and it is important to study these closely so that no mistakes are made.

  1. All texts for Part 1 need to come from the PLT (Prescribed Literature in Translation). If you are teaching the course in English, note that you cannot choose any titles from this list that were originally written in the mother tongue. All works for this part must be in translation. (Note: there are English texts listed on the PLT because the list is generic, and applies to all languages in which the literature course is taken
  2. All authors for Parts 2 and 3 need to come from the English PLA (Prescribed List of Authors).
  3. All works for Part 4 are ‘free choice’. This means you are free to select works from the PLT, the PLA or any other course. The only requirement is that they are of ‘literary merit’.
  4. Across the HL syllabus, you will need to have 4 genres represented. SL syllabi must include 3. This requirement must be realised through works written in English, so cannot include Part 1 or any works in translation that you might include for Part 4.
  5. Your choice of works written in English must reflect at least 2 places.
  6. Your choice of works (in the syllabus as a whole) must reflect at least 3 periods. These are defined as centuries or literary/historical movements.

Getting the choice of works right is an art that you will need to revisit continually as you teach the course year after year. Sometimes you will find that particular titles work really well one year, but not the next - or with particular classes, but not others. Click on the button below to find a pro forma that you can use to set out your text choices. A helpful checklist is provided at the bottom to make sure you don't overlook the requirements pointed out in points 4-6 above.

 Syllabus checklist 


Some FAQs

What defines a ‘work’?

A work is defined as follows:

  • 1 complete major text, e.g. a novel or autobiography

  • 2 or more shorter texts (such as novellas)
  • 5-10 short stories
  • 5-8 essays
  • 10-15 letters
  • A substantial section or the whole of a long poem (at least 600 lines) or 15-20 shorter poems

Can I repeat authors?

Not within a part. But you can repeat an author between parts. No particular work, however, can be used in two different parts of the syllabus.

How many works are in the syllabus as a whole?

HL students will study 13 works. SL students will study 10.

Can I use texts by different authors as one work?

Not for Parts 1-3. In these parts, all individual works must be from the same author. However, for Part 4, you are indeed permitted to select titles from different authors as one work. This means that you could choose a collection of war poetry from Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and others as one single work.

Which works are the most popular, or have been proven to work well?

 Please click here for a list of popular and successful choices for each Part

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