Advanced Higher English

Why study English?

Language and literacy are of personal, social and economic importance. Your ability to use language lies at the centre of the development and expression of your emotions, thinking, learning and sense of personal identity.

This course gives you the opportunity to develop skills in listening, talking, reading and writing, which are essential for learning, life and work. You will develop your ability to communicate your thoughts and feelings and respond to those of other people.

The skills that you develop in English are useful in a wide range of careers; these include teaching, editorial, journalism, administration, legal work or in the arts.

Career Pathways

To see what career areas this subject could lead to and the routes to get there, download and view these career pathways:

Arts, Social Sciences and Languages

Communications and Media

Information, Culture and Heritage


Teaching and Classroom Support

What do I need to get in?

This is at the discretion of the school/college but you would normally be expected to have attained one of the following:

What will I study?

The course comprises two areas of study.

Analysis and Evaluation of Literary Texts

You will:

  • provide evidence of your ability to analyse and evaluate complex and sophisticated literary text
  • refine your skills of analysis and evaluation through the study of complex and sophisticated literary texts from the genres of drama, poetry and prose (fiction and non-fiction)
  • develop independent learning skills by selecting materials for research into an aspect or aspects of literature, formulating relevant tasks and researching primary and secondary sources.

Creation and Production

You will:

  • provide evidence of your ability to produce complex and sophisticated writing, and to critically reflect on its development
  • use language creatively for a variety of purposes and in a variety of forms
  • develop a range of skills necessary for the deployment of language to create effect, and critically reflect on the development of your writing.

How will I be assessed?

Course Assessment

The course assessment consists of four components totalling 100 marks:

Component 1 — Question paper: Literary Study (20 marks)
Component 2 — Question paper: Textual Analysis (20 marks)
Component 3 — Portfolio–writing (30 marks)
Component 4 — Project–dissertation (30 marks)

For components 1 and 2, you will write a critical essay for each question on drama, poetry, prose fiction or prose non fiction.
For component 3, you will produce two pieces of writing for two different purposes and audiences.
For component 4, you will produce a dissertation between 2,500 to 3,500 words.

The question papers will be set and externally marked by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The grade awarded is based on the total marks achieved across course assessment.

The course assessment is graded A-D.

Study Materials

SQA Past Papers English Advanced Higher
SQA Specimen English Advanced Higher Literary Study Question Paper
SQA Specimen English Advanced Higher Textual Analysis Question Paper

What can I go on to next?

Further study, training or employment in:

Which jobs are related to this subject?