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  Chris Hawkes

Non-Examination Assessment: AQA A-Level English Language and Literature (2015-on)


For the new specifications, coursework has been renamed "Non-Examination Assessment" - NEA - and only operates at A-Level (not AS). This is a cross-board requirement from OfQual.

Non-Examination Assessment (NEA):
Making Connections

50 marks: 20% of the total A-Level marks

The table below shows the marks allocated to each of the Assessment Objectives over the two essays. Note that marks are not evenly allocated across the AOs.

Assessment Objective Marks
Apply linguistic and literary concepts and methods, accurately written, appropriate terminology
Analyse ways meanings are shaped in texts
Significance and influence of contexts in the ways texts are produced and received
Connections across texts informed by linguistic and literary study

Note: AO5 is not assessed by the NEA.


For the NEA component for this qualification, students produce a personal investigation exploring a specific technique or theme, spanning both literary and non-literary discourse - 2,500-3,000 words. Fundamentally, this is research into stylistics, and the students should have developed over the whole A-Level course an informed understanding that all texts exist on a continuum of literariness, and that language choices are influenced both by conscious authorial choice and by contextual factors - and that contexts both of production and of reception are key areas of concern.

All centres are allocated an NEA Advisor by AQA. Whilst there is no requirement to have texts or tasks "approved", centres are encouraged to make use of their NEA Advisor if in any doubt about suitable text choice or task framing.

The Specification states that "This area of the course provides an individualised experience for students, enabling them to demonstrate their ability to initiate and sustain independent enquiry." Clearly this requires that that students are allowed to work independently: students should be given ownership of task and text choices with the guidance of the teacher.

The focus is on the student making active connections between the literary and the non-literary material under investigation. There are a number of possible ideas in the Specification, but these of course are by no means exhaustive.

In terms of language analysis, the students should be familiar with the following areas of study:

  • phonetics, phonology and prosodics
  • lexis and semantics
  • grammar and morphology
  • pragmatics
  • discourse
The area of investigation will determine how and to what extent these areas are applied in the exploration.

The essay should be writtenas a formal report. The following sections indicated by subheadings within the report should be used:

  • Introduction and Aims;
  • Review of secondary sources and ideas encountered;
  • Analysis of the material - the central aspect of the exploration. This should be sub-headed to show the various aspects of language use under exploration;
  • Conclusions
  • Appendices - extracts and/or data (this section is not included in the word-count);
  • References: an appropriate academic method of referencing should be adopted (this section is not included in the word-count).

NB: Students cannot choose texts from any of the A-Level exam set text lists.However, they may choose other works from authors on the examination list.

More information can be found on AQA's subject pages:

AQA also have a guide to NEA for teachers: click here.



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