All About Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English


Cambridge International (CI) prepares school students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning. CI is a part of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge pathway paves a clear path for educational success for students from ages 5 to 19 years. Schools can shape the curriculum around how they want the students to learn – offering a wide range of subjects in numerous flexible ways, thus enabling the students to discover new abilities and a wider world. The students also gain skills for life to achieve at school, university, and work.

Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate for Secondary Education) is the world’s most popular international qualification for students in the age group 14-16 years. The program is tried, tested, and trusted. The course offers 70 subjects including 30 languages and students have the privilege to choose them in any combination. And it is taught by over 4800 schools in over 150 countries.

The IGCSE curriculum allows the students to choose a minimum of 5 subjects and a maximum of 14 subjects. The IGCSE core curriculum comprises First language, Second language, Mathematics, and one or more subjects in the area of Science. English, Mathematics, and Science are IGCSE core subjects. The IGCSE focuses to develop students’ understanding, knowledge, and skill in the following areas

  • Subject content
  • Application of knowledge and understanding in various new situations
  • Intellectual inquiry
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to change
  • Work and communicating in English
  • Influencing outcomes
  • Cultural awareness

Cambridge IGCSE (9-1) Literature in English offers the students the opportunity to read, interpret, evaluate and respond to a range of literature in English. Shakespeare’s plays, modern novels, and poems are all included in the variety.


Aims of the Syllabus

The aims of the syllabus are to enable the students to

  • Enjoy the experience of reading literature
  • Understand and respond to different literary texts from different forms
  • Appreciate in which different writers achieve their effects
  • Examine how literature helps us understand many issues that affect people.
  • Communicate an educated response appropriately and effectively


Assessment Overview

Students can make a choice from the following two sets for their assessments papers.


First Set

  • Paper 1 – Poetry and Prose
  • Paper 2 – Drama
  • Paper 3 – Drama (open text)
  • Paper 4 – Unseen


Second Set

  • Paper 1 – Poetry and Prose
  • Paper 2 – Drama
  • Paper 3 – Drama (open text)
  • Component 5 –Coursework
Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3 Paper 4 Component 5
Type Poetry and Prose Drama Drama (open text) Unseen Coursework
Duration 1.5 hours 1.5 hours 45 minutes 1.25 hours Extended
Marks allotted 50 50 25 25 25
Weightage 50% 50% 25% 25% 25%
Format Two questions on two texts – one prose and one poetry Two questions on two texts One question on one text One question requiring critical commentary Portfolio of two assignments each on a different text
Assessment Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed Externally assessed Internally assessed and externally moderated


Assessment Objectives (AOs)

The assessment objectives are

  • AO1– Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the content in the three forms of literary texts: prose, drama, poetry
  • AO2 – Understand the meanings of the literary texts and show deeper ideas and attitudes by exploring texts beyond surface meanings
  • AO3 – Appreciate the ways the writers use language, structure, and form to create and shape meanings and effects
  • AO4 – Articulate an educated response to the literary texts


Subject Content

Set texts rotate on the examination and may change from one year of the examination to the next year. Any edition of the specific text can be used unless specified.

Providing the set texts for the year 2023-2025


Paper 1

Section A – Poetry

Candidates answer one set text in this poetry section
These 15 poems are from Songs of Ourselves Volume 1, Part 4:

  • Margaret Atwood, ‘The City Planners’
  • Boey Kim Cheng, ‘The Planners’
  • Thom Gunn, ‘The Man with Night Sweats’
  • Robert Lowell, ‘Night Sweat’
  • Edward Thomas, ‘Rain’
  • Anne Stevenson, ‘The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument’
  • Tony Harrison, ‘From Long Distance’
  • W H Auden, ‘Funeral Blues’
  • Thomas Hardy, ‘He Never Expected Much’
  • Fleur Adcock, ‘The Telephone Call’
  • Peter Porter, ‘A Consumer’s Report’
  • Judith Wright, ‘Request To A Year’
  • Charles Tennyson Turner, ‘On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book’
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Ozymandias’
  • Stevie Smith, ‘Away, Melancholy’

These 15 poems are from Songs of Ourselves Volume 2, Part 4:

  • Elizabeth Thomas (‘Corinna’), ‘The Forsaken Wife’
  • Philip Bourke Marston, ‘After’
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, ‘A Leave-Taking’
  • Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘I Find No Peace’
  • James Joyce, ‘I Hear an Army’
  • Charlotte Mew, ‘Rooms’
  • Robert Browning, ‘Love in a Life’
  • Lauris Edmond, ‘Waterfall’
  • Mary Monck (‘Marinda’), ‘Verses Written on Her Death-bed at Bath to Her Husband in London’
  • A R D Fairburn, ‘Rhyme of the Dead Self’
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples’
  • Derek Walcott, ‘Nearing Forty’
  • Elinor Morton Wylie, ‘Now Let No Charitable Hope’
  • Alexander Pope, ‘From An Essay on Criticism’
  • Henry Wotton, ‘The Character of a Happy Life’

Ted Hughes, the following 15 poems:

  • The Thought-Fox
  • The Harvest Moon
  • The Jaguar
  • Football at Slack
  • The Horses
  • Roe-Deer
  • Wind
  • A Memory
  • Relic
  • Telegraph Wires
  • Hawk Roosting
  • Anniversary
  • Cat and Mouse
  • The Other
  • Snowdrop


Section B – Prose

Students answer on one set text in this section

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus
  • Charles Dickens Great Expectations
  • Daphne du Maurier Rebecca
  • Henry James Washington Square
  • Jhumpa Lahiri The Namesake
  • Joan Lindsay Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • Yann Martel Life of Pi

The following 10 tales are from Volume 2 of Tales of Ourselves:

  • no. 2 Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment’
  • no. 16 O Henry, ‘The Furnished Room’
  • no. 18 Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘The Widow’s Might’
  • no. 25 Henry Handel Richardson, ‘And Women Must Weep’
  • no. 29 Marghanita Laski, ‘The Tower’
  • no. 31 Janet Frame, ‘The Reservoir’
  • no. 32 Langston Hughes, ‘Thank You M’am’
  • no. 41 Anjana Appachana, ‘Sharmaji’
  • no. 43 Yiyun Li, ‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’
  • no. 44 Segun Afolabi, ‘Mrs. Mahmood’


Paper 2

Students need to answer from two different set texts

  • Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy
  • R C Sherriff Journey’s End
  • Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman
  • William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
  • William Shakespeare Othello


Paper 3

Students need to answer on one of the set text

  • Lynn Nottage Crumbs from the Table of Joy
  • R C Sherriff Journey’s End
  • Wole Soyinka Death and the King’s Horseman
  • William Shakespeare Twelfth Night
  • William Shakespeare Othello


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What is Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English?

Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English is a course offered by Cambridge International Examinations designed for students aged 14 – 16. It is a two-year course that aims to develop students’ critical thinking and analytical skills through literature study.

What are some benefits of studying Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English?

Some benefits of studying Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English include developing critical thinking and analytical skills, improving communication skills through reading and writing, gaining a deeper understanding of different cultures and historical periods, and developing a lifelong love of literature.

What can students do after completing Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English?

After completing Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English, students can go on to study literature or related subjects at the A-level or IB Diploma level. They may also choose to pursue careers in fields such as journalism, publishing, teaching, or writing.

What are some tips for succeeding in Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English?

Some tips for succeeding in Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English include reading widely and critically, practicing close reading and analysis of literary texts, developing strong essay writing skills, being organized and managing your time effectively, and seeking feedback from your teacher or peers.

What texts are covered in Cambridge in IGCSE Literature in English?

Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English covers a range of literary texts from different periods, genres, and cultures. Students are typically required to study poetry, prose, and drama, and may study texts by authors such as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Chinua Achebe, and Sylvia Path.

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