A Level English: advice from Uni admissions people please

(38 Posts)
senua Sat 20-Nov-10 19:03:55

Do you make any distinction between A Level English 'Literature' and 'Language and Literature' for admissions purposes, or are they interchangeable?

Xenia Sat 20-Nov-10 19:07:58

Literature is the proper one. The other one is done by people who aren't as clever and going to ex polys.

Don 't tough the lit and lang with a barge pole.

onimolap Sat 20-Nov-10 19:12:18

Xenia is right.

At university however, Literature and Language is a perfectly good choice as long as it's a proper joint honours degree (and preferably from a Russell Group institution). Language alone at university would probably be called linguistics, and is a fascinating field.

senua Sat 20-Nov-10 19:15:37

Well I thought that, Xenia, but Cambridge's infamous list of acceptable subjects says that L&L "can be an acceptable alternative".

NotTheMamma Sat 20-Nov-10 19:18:31

Depends on what subject is to be taken at Uni. Eng Lit best if Eng Lit to be done at Uni, otherwise it's really not that important - though I work at a mere 94 Group Uni, not a Russell Group wink

senua Sat 20-Nov-10 19:24:23

Is it like Further Maths: they do not insist on FM because some schools do not run it, so to insist on it would be disadvantaging students from poor schools. Are they saying that L&L is acceptable if the only reason you did it is because your school does not run Literature?

He doesn't know which subject he wants to do at Uni, NTM. It's bad enough trying to pin him down on A Levels!

PamelaFlitton Sat 20-Nov-10 19:25:28

Pick Literature if you can

cory Sun 21-Nov-10 00:30:28

Our English department (Russell group, but not Oxbridge) does not rate language highly, but I believe we might take the occasional student who has it (seeing that Lit, is not always an option)- Lang. not considered a good preparation though. So for that reason alone I would discourage it: it's not just a case of getting in to university: you've got to stay in.

Xenia Sun 21-Nov-10 07:36:33

It's like law A level done by bad schools only by pupils who will get low grades. He should do English lit.

newspap Sun 21-Nov-10 08:46:50

Im Sorry, this it totally wrong advice. Lang Lit is a perfectly good choice for someone, as long as they dont want to study English at Uni (russell group or not). If they do, they should do the 2 seperate English A levels. If you want to do, say, a science, or medicine, Lang Lit as a 4th choice is perfectly okay. Ring the admissions tutors and ask them. I have worked in this field, in a grammar school area, for a long time, so I know what Im talking about. Beware sweeping statements about subjects for less academic pupils - after all, we're not talking about media studies. Some very good Grammar school 6th forms offer this option, and wouldn't do if it was an inerior choice.

Xenia Sun 21-Nov-10 08:57:53

Look at what A levels the best private schools offer and you will never see it. Why take the risk? Just go for teh normal A level English lit option. Even if teh university doesn't mark you down or exclude for it plenty of people recruiting know it's not so well regarded so it will still be beingl ooked at when he's 30 in some jobs and people (even if they are wrong) will be saying Ah he didn't do the proper Englishl it A level.

reddaisy Sun 21-Nov-10 09:00:50

I agree with newspap and I have got A-level Literature and Language and it has never, ever been an issue and I went to a Russell Group uni and now work in a competitive field very much related.

Let him do what he will enjoy, I enjoyed the language side a lot.

supersunnyday Sun 21-Nov-10 09:07:16

I think generally the Enlish lit A level is better regarded.

RustyBear Sun 21-Nov-10 09:22:32

Not actually true to say that you have to do single English lit to do an English degree - DS's friend did Lit and Lang and read English at Warwick (Russell Group); he's currently doing an MA there.

campergirls Sun 21-Nov-10 09:23:28

Another Russell Group academic coming in to say Newspap is right. In itself, the lang+lit joint A level is fine - it teaches critical analysis, evaluation of evidence, construction of argument etc just like most arts and humanities do. If your son pursues it, he may need to have those claims at his fingertips of course just in case he comes up against someone as ill-informed and opinionated as Xenia.

However, for someone who wants to do English Literature at uni, the Lit A level definitely is preferable because it's better preparation for the intensity and autonomy of the workload involved. So if that's even a possibility for him, he should do the joint one at AS with a view to just doing Lit at A2.

Ponders Sun 21-Nov-10 09:27:04

My daughter did L&L. She went on to get a good Linguistics degree at a Russell Group uni, & she chose Linguistics because of what they covered in the the Language part - she'd had no idea at 16 what she wanted to study at university.

Ponders Sun 21-Nov-10 09:29:00

(& she subsequently did a PGCE in secondary English, & is teaching it at a very good school!)

campergirls Sun 21-Nov-10 09:48:10

True RustyBear though as Cory says it's not just about admissions, but preparation to do well when you get there. Experience shows that a significant proportion of students who've done the joint A-level do find the volume and pace of reading involved in a Lit degree a challenge. Doesn't mean they can't rise to it of course!

One more thing for anyone whose dc do know they want to do Eng Lit at university: the standard offer for Eng Lit at quite a few 'top' universities is now AAA, and competition for places is such that some are selecting within the pool of candidates predicted to get those grades. In that situation, which English A level you've done might be a differentiator (if there's such a word!).

Xenia Sun 21-Nov-10 10:53:54

And perception of others can matter in later life even if those others are wrong. If the best dentistry course in the UK is at Sunderland Poly and GCSE law is the hardest exam in the land it matters not if those who might be lokoing at your CV for the next 20 years may not know that. So go for the safer option. I don't think all schools tell pupils how some subjects are regarded.

senua Sun 21-Nov-10 10:56:45

So much conflicting advice!

The booklet says that Lit is OCR and L&L is AQA - does anyone have any views on that?

lazymumofteenagesons Sun 21-Nov-10 17:00:06

Xenia has a point when she says look at what the top private/public schools offer at A level and where the majority of their pupils go onto university. None of these schools offer english lang at A level.

Safest bet is to opt for english lit. You could still apply for a linguistics course or journalism with this.

supersunnyday Sun 21-Nov-10 17:47:48

I agree with Xenia and lazymum . I know from experience that graduate recruiters do look at perceived (not necessarily actual) quality of both undergrad institution and A level subjects.

You only have to look at the number of people who have kindly answered the OP's question and who have identified themselves as a Russell Group graduate or academic. Why do we all do that? Because we know that the majority of people will think "that's a good degree, then" or "that's a good job, then"...so she must have a valid opinion smile

Senua I think the fact that it says in the Cantab list "can be...acceptable" again indicates the general prejudice.

If it was my DS and he was academic and wanted to go to a high-ranking uni I would suggest the Eng Lit A level.

thekidsmom Sun 21-Nov-10 17:55:20

Actually, the top private schools DO offer Lang and Lit as an A level... my daughters go to a school which topped one of the paper's lists last year for A level performance and sent 30 girls to Oxbridge.

They offer both Eng Lit and Lang/Lit as A levels and both are being studied by girls wanting to go to Oxbridge. The distinction comes if they want to do English at uni, which my DD does, and on that basis she was advised to do straight Lit. But Lang/Lit is an option for those wanting to study something else.

If you go through the websites of the Russell Group unis, they all have their own take on what they prefer.

So top private schools do offer Lang/Lit, other posters are mistaken in that.

clam Sun 21-Nov-10 17:56:15

What course is it for?

AuntAda Sun 21-Nov-10 17:57:31

There is no conflicting advice -- the Cambridge website says that English Literature is teh desirable option and that Eng Lang & Lit is acceptable if the applicants school does not offer straight Eng lit.

The implications of this are, very straightforwardly, that English literature is the more highly-regarded course but that they may make exceptions for applicants whose schools don't offer it, in order to try and even up the playing field for kids from schools that don't have a traditional academic bias and/or who were poorly-advised because their schools and teachers are not geared up for getting people into to universities.

If she has the choice between Eng Lit and Eng Lang & Lit, and wants to read Egnlish at a good university or poss even Oxbridge, then obviously she should choose Engl Lit A level. It's a no-brainer.

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