Combining the rigour of a traditional A-Level with a refreshing level of flexibility, the Cambridge Pre-U course allows us to delve into canonical literature and allow students freedom to develop their own tastes.


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, as well as masterclass sessions taught by Sixth Form students themselves.

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.

The course culminates in three examinations, each worth 25% of a student’s final grade, plus an independent 'P.I.' or 'Personal Investigation' into literary works of their choice. It is here that students can really follow their own passions, developing an assignment on any four English language texts printed anywhere in the world at any point in literary history. 

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, 80% 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.  Our Sixth Form students also teach masterclasses to junior pupils, compile book lists, blog and podcast about books and take a leading role in editing our creative journal, Small Island, which is now in its third year.