Cambridge Pre-U English

Lower Sixth English 3 1 1

More rigorous than a traditional A Level, the Pre-U has been running at Bede's since the qualification's launch in 2008.

Designed to equip students with the skills they will need to engage in rigorous academic research at University, Pre-U English was engineered to inculcate a true enjoyment of literature in students while offering them an excellent preparation for the study of essay-based subjects at University.

At Bede's, Pre-U English students enjoy a thorough introduction to literary history in the first term of the Lower Sixth, and continue to read extensively throughout their ‘foundation’ year. The first term also sees students engaging visiting talks and workshops at the Charleston Literary Festival, which they return to again in the Summer Term.

In the classroom, Pre-U students discover the value of comparative study, refine their research skills and become acquainted with the conventions of scholarly writing.

Reading widely, the course culminates in three examinations, each worth 25% of their final grade, plus an independent 'P.I.' or 'Personal Investigation' into literary works of their choice.

As for the exams, the first encompasses Poetry and Prose, the second Drama and the third Comment and Analysis on two previously unseen texts.

While pursuing excellence in the above, Bede's Pre-U students develop their own critical voices so that they are well prepared for the challenges of their independent project.

Rigorous, intellectual stimulating, creative and thought-provoking, the Pre-U is an excellent course that is, of course, taught with passion!

In the last 5 years, 85% of candidates have achieved the equivalent of A*-C grades, with the highest achievers earning Distinction** grades - a grade worth more than an A* at A Level.

Most importantly however, our Pre-U groups lead rich cultural lives, regularly attending the theatre locally, enjoying visits from guest writers, speakers and lecturers, visiting institutions including The British Library and London's many museums, and travelling to historical landmarks of literary significance ranging from Jane Austen's home to Shakespeare's Globe.

Matt Oliver
It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my pupils to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

Read Mr Oliver's blog

English News and Blogs

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Pupil Stories

  • Archie Taylor, Lower Sixth

    My introverted nature meant that I was never going to prosper at my old school, but Bede’s has enabled me to flourish.

    Archie Taylor, Lower Sixth Interviewed in 2017
  • Anna Moody, Upper Fifth

    This school makes you feel like you have a lot of doors open to you. For that, and many other reasons, I am really thankful.

    Anna Moody, Upper Fifth Interviewed in 2013
  • Helen Clements, Lower Sixth

    It's strange when I think back. It sounds really cheesy, but I don't know how else to say it - I found myself here.

    Helen Clements, Lower Sixth Interviewed in 2012
More Pupil Stories

Cambridge Pre-U English staff

It is through reading and writing that we discover who we are, or who we want to be. In each piece of writing, I want my students to have the chance to reinvent themselves.

Matt Oliver, Head of English and Dicker House Tutor

One of the best things about being a teacher is that you don't just teach - you continue to learn at the same time.

David Cheshire, Deputy Head of Sixth Form, Teacher of English and Dicker House Tutor

There is truth in fiction. It is, ultimately, the mirror we hold up to ourselves and to society.

Paul Gibbs, Director of Higher Education, Teacher of English and Bloomsbury House Tutor

Working at Bede's is a dream job. I get to share my unquenchable passion for literature with a new generation of fertile minds in an inspirational, supportive environment - it is a joy and a privilege.

Justin Sealey, Camberlot Deputy Housemaster and Teacher of English

It is our language which defines us as humans. There can be no more important time within school than that spent studying the language we are constantly using.

John Tuson, Academic Deputy Head, Teacher of English and Deis House Tutor