English & Literacy S5/S6 Course


Students work through interpretations, write critical essays (literature answers), answer detailed questions on a literary text, write imaginative/discursive essays or reports and produce a writing folio.

80% of the final grade is determined by examination performance.

The components have been arranged into two units and an external assessment:

Unit 1 Language Study (interpretation and essay writing)

  • Understand, analyse and evaluate different non-fiction texts. To demonstrate you can do this, you sit a close reading paper on an unseen non-fiction text within a double period.
  • Compose a piece of writing in a particular genre. Minimum length: 650 words. Maximum length: 1300 words. All draft materials must be kept to prove that you went through the process of writing the piece yourself.

Unit 2 Literary Study

  • Textual Analysis of an unseen text, again within a double period.

External Assessment

80% of the final grade is generated by the final exam. This comprises two parts:

  • Close Reading: (1 hour 45 mins) 2 passages, 40% weighting
  • Critical Essay: (1 hour 30 mins) write 2 essays, 40% weighting

Each of the two Critical Essays must be on a different genre: poetry, prose, drama, mass media or language.

The examination requirements are simplified for Intermediate 2 and Intermediate 1.

Writing Folio

20% of the final grade is generated from the Writing Folio:

  • One piece of writing of a broadly creative nature (creative or reflective writing)
  • One piece of writing of a broadly discursive nature (persuasive, argumentative or report)
  • Minimum length: 650 words. Maximum length: 1300 words. Applies to both genres.

The following must be kept: draft title and proposals, outline plan, first draft and final version.


There is substantial homework. Focus will be on the Writing Folio, Unit revision and Close Reading and essay-writing practice.

Value of course

A pass in Higher English is a valuable qualification for those intending to go to college or university and it is also highly regarded by employers. However, Higher English is not essential for general university admission. Furthermore, Higher English is not designed, like Standard Grade, as a course suitable for everyone. For some students entering Fifth Year, maximising the chances of a good spread of Higher passes means choosing not to opt for Higher English. For many students, Intermediate 2 is a better option. For some, Intermediate 1 is the best option.

Entry requirements

Students would be expected to have an award in English of B at Intermediate 2 or Credit level in Standard Grade. In Standard Grade, a grade 2 or better is essential in both Reading and Writing. These overall grades cannot be the only consideration, however, because the nature of the assessment is different. In Standard Grade, 50% of the weighting in both Reading and Writing comes from a folio which is redrafted with teacher assistance. Students who tend not to gain Credit grades in first drafts are therefore likely to find Higher English too demanding in S5.

For students who achieve grade 3 with first drafts of folio items in Reading and Writing, Intermediate 2 is the best option.

For students who tend to achieve grade 4 with first drafts, Intermediate 1 is the most appropriate

English Advanced Higher


Like Higher English, this course develops skills in textual analysis and creative writing. Although oral communication is included as a course option, the main focus is on the study of literature in depth. The authors/topics will vary from year to year but will be drawn from a list which includes Hardy, Austen, Donne, Wordsworth, Heaney, Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde and others.


Assessment is based on a series of components :

  • Dissertation (3500-4500 words) which is compulsory for all candidates.
  • Combination of two 40-hour units likely to be drawn from literature, creative writing (assessed in a folio submitted by the candidate) and textual analysis. The options will vary from student to student, in line with personal aptitudes and preferences.

Most of the options are assessed in the final examination; in other cases (eg creative writing), a folio is submitted.

The dissertation is worth 40% of the overall course weighting. The other two components are worth 60% (30% each).

Students must meet criteria in order to pass each component and pass all components to achieve a course award.


Much of the work has to be done at home. The bulk of this homework will take the form of reading and note-taking plus preparatory work for the dissertation.

Value of course

Success at Advanced Higher English indicates a considerable ability to work independently and to understand and create sophisticated texts. As such, it is a formidable preparation for the challenges of a variety of humanities degree courses at university.

Entry requirements

Normally, candidates should have at least a grade C in Higher English.

Meet the English & Literacy Staff