Critical Study – IB Programme (Year 2)

In Part 4 – Literature: critical study we examine literary texts through a more form-focused lens. This is to say that close reading, textual analysis and critical literacy are at the heart of Part 4. There are several requirements to consider when engaging in texts throughout Part 4.

When selecting texts, it is important to keep the nature of the corresponding assessment in mind. Since students will be speaking about a passage from one of their Part 4 works, there should be a significant quantity of stylistic and structural features in these works. Poetry tends to be popular in Part 4, as poems are often dense in their use of language.

The texts we´ll use for this module and last part of the programme are:


ALFRED TENNYSON´s selected collection of poems


In the individual oral commentary, students receive a 40-line passage from one of the Part 4 works. There are 20 minutes to prepare a 10-minute commentary on the text, after which a 5-minute discussion ensues. This form of Internal Assessment counts towards 15% of the final mark.

At SL students must also write at least one written task based on a literary work from either Parts 3 or 4. At HL students must write at least one written task based on a literary work from Part 3 and also one based on a work from Part 4.


Below are the three learning outcomes that one should aim to meet while studying Part 4 of the English Language and Literature course. For each outcome, a brief explanation is offered. The learning outcomes in bold are taken from the IB guide for Language A: Language and Literature.

1. Explore literary works in detail.
In Part 4, students engage in the close reading of literary texts. In order to meet this outcome, you will need to focus on extracts from a larger literary texts. Not only is this useful when preparing for the individual oral activity, but this enables one to focus on a specific literary devices, the placement of a smaller text in a greater context and the effects of a passage on the reader. Furthermore, at such a level of analysis, you may notice a difference between a text’s overt and covert messages.
2. Analyze elements such as theme and the ethical stance or moral values of literary texts.
Analyzing literary texts is like deciphering codes. Although writers are not always aware of the implications and meanings of their own texts, we want to try to make interpretations. “What does the author stand for?” is one question that you will inadvertently address while analyzine literary texts. Furthermore you may find yourself asking: “What is the author’s intention?” “How does he or she view the world?” Often, you can find answers when studying texts in depth.
3. Understand and make appropriate use of literary terms.
When analyzing literary texts, one needs to understand the mechanics of fiction and poetry. One question we should ask is: “What kinds of devices do writers make use of to convey a message or express a sentiment?” Identifying literary devices however, is only the beginning. One needs to go further and ask “What are the effects of these devices on the reader?”






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