Language A: literature

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The language A: literature course introduces students to the analysis of literary texts. It is the course through which the IB’s policy of mother-tongue entitlement is delivered. The course is automatically available in 55 languages and available by special request and may be studied in any language with a sufficiently developed written literature.

The course is organized into three areas of exploration and seven central concepts, and focuses on the study of literary works. Together, the three areas of exploration of the course add up to a comprehensive exploration of literature from a variety of cultures, literary forms and periods. Students learn to appreciate the artistry of literature, and develop the ability to reflect critically on their reading, presenting literary analysis powerfully through both oral and written communication.

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at higher and standard levels
  • Higher level (HL) study requires a minimum of 240 class hours, while standard level (SL) study requires a minimum of 150 class hours
  • Students study 13 works at higher level and 9 works at standard level from a representative selection of literary forms, periods and places
  • Students develop the ability to engage in close, detailed analysis of literary works, building understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism
  • The study of literary works in context is emphasised, and through the study of literature in translation the student is challenged to reflect on the role of cultural assumptions in interpretation
  • Students are assessed through a combination of formal examination and oral and written coursework
  • The formal examination comprises two essay papers, one requiring the analysis of a passage of unseen literary text, and the other a comparative response to a question based on two works studied
  • Students also perform an oral activity presenting their analysis of two works studied
  • HL students comply with an additional written coursework requirement which consists of writing a 1200 - 1500 word essay on one of the works studied

Language A: literature subject brief

Subject briefs are short two-page documents providing an outline of the course. Read the standard level (SL) and/or higher level (HL) subject brief below. 

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Language A: literature SL & HL (PDF, 44 KB) pdf