Head of Department - Mr JB Petrie, B.A.
Members of the English Department
Ms J. Curry
Mrs A. Mynors
Mrs V. Tucker
Mrs M. Wooderson
What We Do
At the end of Year 11, we enter pupils for the Cambridge English Language and English Literature I.G.C.S.E. examinations. Please find below an outline of the specifications.
Cambridge IGCSE English Language Specification
Exam: 2 hours
3 Questions: Transformation Task (20 marks), Analysing Effects (10 marks), Summary (20 marks)
50% of final mark.
3 Tasks: Informative, Creative, Response to a text
50% of final mark.
Cambridge IGCSE English Literature
Exam: 2 hours 15 minutes
3 Questions: 1 question on each set text from a choice of 3 questions (25 marks per question)
75% of final mark.
2 Tasks: One can be on a set exam text. 30% of total marks
25% of final mark.
Reading Lists for Upper and Lower School Pupils
These are some of our favourite books – definitely not to be missed!
Years 7 - 9
The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling.
The Twilight series by Stephanie Mayer (Vampires, romance)
The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks (thriller)
The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz (action)
The Young James Bond series (Charlie Higson)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)
Northern Lights trilogy (Philip Pullman)
The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper (fantasy)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
The Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen (adventure)
White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.
Just in Case by Meg Rossof
Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine.
Back Home by Michelle Magorian
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkein
The Narnia series by CS Lewis
The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Sword in the Stone by TH White
Heidi trilogy by Joanna Spyri
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
Little Women by Louisa M Alcott
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe
Moonfleet by J Meade Faulkner
The Last of the Mohicans by J Fennimore Cooper
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson
White Fang by Jack London
Flambards trilogy by K M Peyton
Treasure Island by R L Stevenson
The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan
The Purple Sage by Zane Grey
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
OXBRIDGE PREPARATION PROGRAMME
It is no longer simply enough to turn up for your Oxbridge interview armed only with a superb knowledge of your set A level texts and expect to convince any interviewer that you have a deep desire to study English Literature. Instead you need to demonstrate a genuine interest which extends beyond the curriculum and which you have made an active effort to further.
The most obvious way to do this is to have read a great deal outside the classroom and to be confident in talking about what books you have enjoyed and why. Hopefully amongst your reading you will have discovered a genre which has particularly fired your interest and about which you can demonstrate real enthusiasm and insight. The reading list below is designed to give you a combination of “classics”, a knowledge of which will underpin and enhance much of your further reading, and a range of other books loosely organized by genre.
For those of you interested in pursuing your reading beyond this list, go to
This will give you lists and suggestions for anything from the top ten Swedish Crime novels to the top ten scenes involving fruit in novels!
THE BIG 6
Knowledge of the following texts is essential in order to really appreciate a lot of other, later literature.
The Bible (King James Version): Genesis, Leviticus, Psalms, Proverbs, the 4 Gospels & Revelation
The Odyssey – Homer
Divine Comedy – Dante
The Canterbury Tales (The Prologue and The Knight’s Tale, The Merchant’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale) – Geoffrey Chaucer
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Paradise Lost (Books I and II, IX and X) – John Milton
Humour is a very subjective thing but these novels will show you how different writers have attempted to make people laugh over the years – perhaps the most difficult of skills…
Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
Money – Martin Amis
The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens
The Commitments – Roddy Doyle
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
Our Man in Havana – Graham Greene
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh
Incorporating espionage and even the supernatural but always containing a victim of some sort, the following will take you from a monastery of murderous medieval monks to the hard boiled streets of 1950’s L.A.
Journey into Fear – Eric Ambler
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
A Spy by Nature – Charles Cumming
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Secret Agent- Joseph Conrad
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
Goldfinger – Ian Fleming
The Collector – John Fowles
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
Fatherland – Robert Harris
The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
The Spy Who Came in From The Cold – John Le Carre
Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
Black and Blue – Ian Rankin
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
FAMILY AND SELF
The joys and struggles of family life and the processes of growing up and growing old have long been an inspiration for great writing.
Behind the Scenes at the Museum – Kate Atkinson
The Outsider – Albert Camus
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
Spies – Michael Frayn
Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Buddha of Suburbia -Hanif Kureishi
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
….is a many splendoured thing, it’s arguably all you need, and it will undoubtedly break your heart, as the following novels prove….
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
The Mill On The Floss – George Elliot
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Room With A View – E.M. Foster
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
Waterland – Graham Swift
SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY
For a glimpse of the future and a real bout of escapism you can’t beat a bit of the below.
The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Magus – John Fowles
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Children of Men – P.D. James
The Trial – Franz Kafka
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
THE STATE OF THE NATION
There’s nothing like a good piece of literature to really get under the skin of society and expose its faults in all their raw detail. If you want to know why dictatorships burn books, have a look at these….
London Fields – Martin Amis
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Plague – Albert Camus
What a Carve Up! – Jonathan Coe
Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
Underworld – Don DeLillo
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Hard Times – Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
USA – John Dos Passos
Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
Animal Farm - George Orwell
The Plot Against America – Phillip Roth
White Teeth - Sadie Smith
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
This Sporting Life – David Storey
WAR and TRAVEL
The horrors of war often encourage some of the most magnificent writing imaginable whilst if it’s travel literature you’re after, yearning to be transported from a grey day in Hereford to distant fields, then have a look at some of these.
Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
Regeneration – Pat Barker
Heart of darkness – Joseph Conrad
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
Flashman – George MacDonald Frazer
Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Maus – Art Spiegelmen
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
You may well already have a poet or period of poetry you are particularly keen on and to show an expertise and interest in this genre always impresses at interview. You may well like to look into the following poets.
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
John Donne (1571-1631)
Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
William Blake (1757-1827)
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
W.B. Yeats (1865-1939)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
T.S. Elliot (1888-1965)
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Phillip Larkin (1922-1989)
Seamus Heaney (1939-)
Carol Ann Duffy (1954-)
Besides delving into a bit of Jacobean and Restoration drama and the giants of 19th century stage such as Ibsen and Chekov, we suggest you have a close look at some of the following late 20th century playwrights.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I READ?
Newspapers, Literary magazines (TLS), Reviews, online Book sites (Guardian Unlimited), Non- Fiction Collections of Diaries, Letters, Obituaries, Biographies, books on sport, history books…….. the list is endless but anything which fires your enthusiasm and supports your other interests would be invaluable. If you write your own stuff, so much the better.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREPARE?
If you are serious about applying for Oxbridge or any of the Russell Universities to study English Literature, we would like you to do the following:
- Write an approximately 800 word piece, entitled: “The study of literature is a self-indulgent luxury, an anachronism in the 21st Century” – Discuss.
- Write an approximately 3000 word, extended study, on a piece of literature of your choice. The title of the piece should be “Why we should all read (whatever the piece of literature your choice is)” and you should shape your piece for publication in the Arts Supplement of a broadsheet newspaper.
In this piece you need to provide a suitably academic analysis of the strengths of your choice, making use of comparison where necessary and adopting a stance of persuasive expertise. The piece can be strongly subjective, explaining personal reasons for your point of view but must contain elements of detailed textual analysis.
- Prepare and give a 35 minute lesson to a group of Year 10 students on a poem of your choice. Your aim is to introduce the other pupils to both the content of the poem and the techniques used within it. How you choose to structure the lesson is up to you as are the potential outcomes.
- Undertake a mock Oxbridge interview with a panel of English teachers.
Remember this programme and reading list are designed to increase your enthusiasm for the subject and to give you the necessary confidence for your University application and interview process. Any kind of work experience, at the Hay Festival or Ledbury Poetry Festival for example, or any opportunities you have taken to have your fiction or non-fiction writing or even reviews of events published, will also look impressive.
Best of luck and enjoy the reading. HCS English Department 2009
Although we feel the school curriculum at HCS offers a strong combination of traditional subjects and flexibility of choice, there is a growing recognition that pupils in all schools need to be offered opportunities and experiences outside the classroom. It is intended that these will serve to spark a new interest, further develop and challenge pupil learning and arm pupils with the crucial extra experience necessary in an increasingly competitive world. Above all they are intended to be enjoyed! Extra curricular activities such as sport, drama and music all contribute to this learning beyond the classroom but we are also looking to further develop this area of education.
At the moment we are in the process of putting together a programme of activities and visits designed to provide this enrichment of learning. Below are brief reports on two events which have taken place this term, with the aim being to establish these as regular activities within the school year and to expand on our links with the people involved. Further plans are already in place for the coming year, reports on which will be posted here.
The potential for such a programme is huge and the pupils’ response to initial visits and experiences suggests this will be a very exciting initiative both to be involved in and to help co-ordinate.
James Petrie – Enrichment Programme Co-ordinator
Hay Festival 2009
Thanks to the support of Festival director, Peter Florence, we were able to send a further 6 students from Years 11 and 12 on a day of intensive but enjoyable work experience during this year’s Festival. Students were first required to attend the morning briefing session, to get an idea of how so enormous an event is managed and co-ordinated. They were then assigned to an official intern and attended a wide range of events, meeting various authors and recording their impressions and experiences onto the Festival blog.
Peter Florence was impressed by the student’s approach and their work and we hope to further reinforce the link with the Festival by attending the Hay Segovia event in Spain, where work experience would be combined with various cultural visits in Segovia and nearby Madrid.
Hay 2009 - A Student's View
The Guardian Hay Festival has become a significant date for every literary aficionado’s calendar, and this year, as part of work experience arranged by Mr Petrie, six HCS pupils from the Year 11 and 12 were lucky enough to be part of the ‘behind the scenes team’ that keeps the Hay festival running smoothly. We were there over the course of two festival days, three of us on Tuesday and three on Wednesday ( we now realise a “festival day“ is not from 9 to 5, as one might expect. We were instructed to be there by 8am! And indeed stayed ’till 8 the same night- by then shattered!). Having been briefed by Peter Florence and his team, we each shadowed an intern (author's aide) and although we were only there for a day, it turned out to be jam-packed with a multitude of valuable experiences. We got to schmooze with famous authors, see inspirational speakers, and we even wrote a ’blog for the Hay Festival website on an event of our choice. Perhaps the most nerve-racking bit was getting to go up on stage to present a rose to the authors we were looking after- More difficult than one might think! And after enthusiastically volunteering to take on this challenge, we realised that there really was a reason why the interns were so keen to pass this job on to us…falling over on stage wouldn't be a good look in front of such prestigious literary figures! Fortunately no-one did. We are grateful to Mr Petrie for fixing it and eagerly look forward to next year.
Miranda Otter-Barry Ross
Having been tipped of that a couple of Year 9 pupils already produced their own animation, in early June a visit was organized to the City of Birmingham University’s Institute of Art and Design, and specifically to its flourishing Animation Department. The 6 students were given a tour of the various areas of study within the Institute, including the Photography, Stage and Event Design and Live Action Film Departments. Under the guidance of Course Director Neil Hadfield, the Institute students gave our pupils a couple of very hands-on workshops where they learnt how to use Apple Mac technology to produce flash motion and stop motion animation. The HCS pupils also heard how animation is increasingly used within marketing and they got the opportunity to view some of the work of the Institute’s students. Again, the day was a great success. Our students impressed with their enthusiastic and intelligent responses to the tasks set and the established link with the University is something we should look to further develop.