Overview of the new course

The new course presents a number of key changes. The more straightforward ones, perhaps, relate to the type of assessments and the fact that there are now fewer of them.  However, the more significant points of difference relate to the shift towards a more conceptual approach to teaching and learning in the course.  Whist this might present us with some challenge at the outset, there is a great deal of potential for imaginative thinking about all aspects of the subject and the importance we attach to it.  In other words, good times are ahead!

Below is a summary of the most important elements of the new course.  You can scroll down or click below on the relevant questions:

1.  What are the 'Areas of Exploration'?

2.  What are the course concepts?

3.  What is the Learner Portfolio?

4.  How many works will we need to teach?

5.  How is the course assessed?

6.  What are the differences between Standard and Higher Level?

1.  Areas of Exploration

The new course asks us to think more than we are perhaps used to about some core abstract concepts which the Subject Guide refers to as 'Areas of Exploration'.  These are defined as follows:

Readers, writers and texts aims to introduce students to the notion and purpose of literature and the ways in which texts can be read, interpreted and responded to.

Works are chosen from a variety of literary forms. Their study could focus on the relationships between literary texts, readers and writers as well as the nature of literature and its study. This study includes the investigation of the response of readers and the ways in which literary texts generate meaning. The focus is on the development of personal and critical responses to the particulars of literary texts. 

Time and space draws attention to the fact that texts are not isolated entities, but are connected to space and time. 

Works are chosen to reflect a range of historical and/or cultural perspectives. Their study focuses on the contexts of literary texts and the variety of ways literary texts might both reflect and shape society at large. The focus is on the consideration of personal and cultural perspectives, the development of broader perspectives, and an awareness of the ways in which context is tied to meaning. 

Intertextuality focuses on the connections between and among diverse texts, traditions, creators and ideas.

Works are chosen so as to provide students with an opportunity to extend their study and make fruitful comparisons. Their study focuses on intertextual relationships between literary texts with possibilities to explore various topics, thematic concerns, generic conventions, literary forms or literary traditions that have been introduced throughout the course. The focus is on the development of critical response grounded in an understanding of the complex relationships among literary texts. 

These Areas of Exploration will inform various elements of the way you teach the course and your students learn.  Not the least will relate to the territory you move through as you study the various works.  You may also very well find that these  Areas of Exploration inform the approach you take to course structure. 


2.  Concepts

Underpinning and perhaps interconnecting the Areas of Exploration, the new guide lists 7 key concepts, defined as follows:

  • Identity
  • Culture
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Perspective
  • Transformation
  • Representation

These ideas present the means to make sense of points of connection and comparison between works studied, as well as - perhaps - facilitate narratives that might take us from one work to another.  More information about them can be found on page 26 and following of the Subject Guide.


3.  The Learner Portfolio

A new, mandatory component of the course concerns the introduction of a portfolio of writing through which students will demonstrate independent analytical and imaginative thinking about the course and the works studied.  It will serve as a means to help students fine tune ideas in the run up to assessment tasks - particularly the Individual Oral and (for HL students only) the Written Coursework - but also invite creative, more informal responses. 

You could see the Learner Portfolio as a focus for any and all work you set for your classes, but more importantly, perhaps, encourage its potential for students to write more autonomously - e.g. as a record of wider reading, a place to bring in relevant learning from other subjects such as Psychology or History or description and evaluation of experiences outside the classroom e.g. theatre or art gallery trips perhaps.  It might also serve well to encourage creative writing - an aspect many students (and teachers) express a desire to see.

A Learner Portfolio is sometimes cited by teachers of the current course as a strategy they employ - particularly in reference to the Literature in Translation coursework and we have some suggestions as to how it might work here .

The Learner Portfolio is an expected part of the new course and although it is not assessed, there is a chance it may be requested if, for example, there is any reason to doubt the authenticity of a student's work.


4.  Course content

Students will read and study a number of different works and you must make sure that particular requirements are fulfilled.  A summary of the requirements is as follows:

Higher LevelStandard Level
A minimum of 5 works written in EnglishA minimum of 4 works written in English
A minimum of 4 works must be in translationA minimum of 3 works must be in translation
Up to 4 works can be 'chosen freely' e.g. from outside the prescribed reading listUp to 2 works can be 'chosen freely' e.g. from outside the prescribed reading list
A minimum of 3 works must be taught in relation to each Area of ExplorationA minimum of 2 works must be taught in relation to each Area of Exploration

Works must cover:

  • 4 major literary genres
  • 3 periods
  • 4 places

Works must cover:

  • 3 major literary genres
  • 3 periods
  • 3 places

5.  Assessment

There are some fairly dramatic changes to the current course particularly in terms of the number of assessment tasks.  Both Standard and Higher level students will be asked to complete two externally-assessed exams and one internally-assessed oral.  HL students will also be asked to complete a coursework essay, externally marked. 

A summary of the tasks is as follows:

External assessment

Paper 1:  Analysis of an unseen literary text, with a guiding question.  Two passages will be set;  SL students will have 1 hr and 15 minutes to write about one whereas HL students will write about both in 2 hrs, 15 mins.

  • The weighting for this assessment will be 35% for SL and HL

Paper 2:  A comparative essay that asks students to compare texts studied from anywhere in the course, from any literary form.  4 questions will be provided and will not refer to specific literary forms.

  • The weighting for this assessment will be 35% for SL and 25% for HL.

Essay:  HL students only will write a coursework essay on any text.  This will replace the current Written Assignment and the interactive oral, reflective statement, supervised writing will no longer be required.

  • The weighting for this assessment will be 20%.
Internal assessment

Individual Oral:   similar to the current Individual Oral Presentation, students will prepare  a response to any two texts, one of which will be in translation.  The focus will be on the way the texts present an issue of global concern, and the task will include detailed analysis of an extract from each work. 

  • The weighting for this assessment will be 30% for SL and 20% for HL.  

One key feature of the new approach will be to allow students the freedom to answer examination questions using any works studied in the course, as long as they have not been used for a different assessment task. 


6.  Key differences between Standard and Higher Level

Works readSLHL
Works in translation written by authors from the Prescribed Reading ListStudy a minimum of 3 worksStudy a minimum of 4 works
Works originally written in the language studied by authors on the Prescribed Reading ListStudy a minimum of 4 worksStudy a minimum of 5 works
Free choice worksStudy of up to 2 works Study of up to 4 works
Total works studied913
External Assessment
Paper 1:  Guided Literary AnalysisA guided literary analysis of a previously unseen literary extract or text from a choice of two.Two guided literary analyses of previously unseen literary extracts or texts.
HL essayAn essay of between 1200-1500 words exploring a line of enquiry in connection with a studied literary text or work.
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