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Cambridge IGCSE World Literature

Cambridge IGCSE World Literature encourages learners to explore literature from different countries and cultures. Through study of great novelists, poets and dramatists from around the world, learners acquire lifelong skills in interpreting and evaluating texts. They learn how to develop and communicate an informed personal response to literature. The syllabus has been designed to be flexible: schools and teachers can choose texts relevant to their learners' circumstances and teachers' own specialist interests. The aims of the syllabus are to develop learners' ability to enjoy, understand and respond to literature written in English or in English translation from different countries and cultures.

Aims of the Syllabus

The syllabus aims to encourage and develop candidates’ ability to-
• Enjoy the experience of reading world literature
• Understand and respond to literary texts in different forms and from different countries and cultures
• Communicate an informed personal response appropriately and effectively
• Appreciate different ways in which writers achieve their effects
• Experience literature’s contribution to aesthetic, imaginative and intellectual growth
• Explore the contribution of literature to an understanding of areas of human concern.




PROSE: Examples of suitable texts for portfolio work

  1. Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Purple Hibiscus (Nigeria)
  2. Alain-Fournier (Henri Albain Fournier), The Lost Estate (France)
  3. Willa Cather, My Ántonia (USA)
  4. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (England)
  5. Merle Hodge, Crick Crack, Monkey (Trinidad)
  6. Witi Ihimaera, The Whale Rider (New Zealand)
  7. Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Germany)
  8. Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley (Egypt)
  9. Kamala Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve (India)
  10. Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes: Stories (Japan)
  11. Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses (Norway)
  12. Alexander Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy, Selected Stories (Russia)
  13. Shen Congwen, Selected Stories (China)
  14. Teacher’s own selection of 10–12 short stories within Stories of Ourselves: The University of Cambridge
  15. International Examinations Anthology of Short Stories in English (Australia, Barbados, Botswana, etc.)

POETRY: Examples of suitable texts for portfolio work

  1. Anna Akhmatova, Selected Poems (Russia)
  2. Simon Armitage (trans) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (England)
  3. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Selected Poems (Spain)
  4. Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist (Northern Ireland)
  5. Alfonsina Storni, Selected Poems (Argentina)
  6. Rabindranath Tagore, Selected Poems (India)
  7. Teacher’s own selection of 12–15 poems within anthologies such as:
  8. Poetry from Pakistan: An Anthology or Songs of Ourselves: The Cambridge International Examinations
  9. Anthology of Poetry in English (Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, etc.)

DRAMA: Examples of suitable texts for portfolio work

  1. Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children (Germany)
  2. Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (USA)
  3. Federico Garcia Lorca, The House of Bernarda Alba (Spain)
  4. August Strindberg, Miss Julie (Sweden)
  5. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (England)
  6. Sophocles, Antigone (Ancient Greece)
  7. Jean Tay, Boom (Singapore)

Objectives of Assesment

Candidates are assessed on their ability to demonstrate-

  1. detailed knowledge of the content and form of literary texts drawn from different countries and cultures
  2. engagement with writers’ ideas and treatment of themes, and appreciation of how texts relate to wider contexts
  3. recognition and appreciation of how writers create and shape meanings and effects
  4. empathy, through re-creation of a character’s voice and thoughts



1. Portfolio (coursework)
This component carries 50% of the assessment of the syllabus as a whole.
Candidates will submit a portfolio of two written assignments AND one oral assignment. This component as a whole requires study of at least two different forms (poetry/prose/drama), with texts drawn from at least two countries/cultures. The portfolio as a whole is marked out of 65: candidates will gain a mark out of 25 for each written assignment, and a mark out of 15 for the oral assignment. The assignments are set by the teacher(s), and internally marked (and internally moderated where there is more than one set). They are subsequently externally moderated by Cambridge International.

2. Paper 2 (Unseen)
1 hour 15 minutes
This component carries 25% of the assessment of the syllabus as a whole.
Candidates answer one question from a choice of two. Each question asks candidates for a critical commentary on (and appreciation of) previously unseen writing printed on the question paper. One question is based on a passage of literary prose (such as an extract from a novel or a short story); the other question is based on a poem, or extract of a poem. The material will be taken from writing either originally in English or in English translation. There are no set texts for this paper.

3 Paper 3 Set Text
1 hour 30 minutes
This component carries 25% of the assessment of the syllabus as a whole.
Questions will be set on a range of poetry, prose and drama texts in English translation, or originally written in English. On each set text there will be two questions: one extract-based question and one general essay question. Each question carries the same number of marks. The paper is divided into:
• Section A: extract-based questions
• Section B: essay questions.
Candidates answer two questions: one question from each section. They may answer both of their questions on the same set text, or on two different texts. This is a ‘closed books’ paper: set texts may not be taken into the examination room.

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Cambridge IGCSE World Literature
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