Cambridge IGCSE Subject Briefs: World Literature

Timothy Hoffmann

Cambridge IGCSE Subject Briefs: World Literature

This subject brief gives a overview of the World Literature syllabus.

Photo by Nicola Nuttall on Unsplash

Cambridge IGCSE World Literature aims to help students read, interpret and evaluate literary texts from different countries and cultures. The syllabus develops students’ literary abilities while keeping a global perspective on literature. Students are graded on the traditional A*-G scale.

Assessment and Grading:

All candidates take three components: the Portfolio, Paper 2 (Unseen) and Paper 3 (Set Text).

The Portfolio is done in class and comprises a critical essay, an empathic response, and an oral exam. All together is worth 50% of your grade (A*-G). Your teacher grades your work, but grades are moderated by Cambridge.

The oral exam is on a text you have studied in class. You prepare a commentary in advance around a particular theme and your teacher then asks you questions. You are not allowed to have the text in the oral with you. The oral takes 5-10 minutes and is recorded.

Your critical essay is also written on a similar question that you have devised yourself and should be 800-1200 words long. You may not write about the same text as you have used for the empathic response.

The empathic response is a piece of directed writing such as letters or a diary, based on a text you have studied. It should be 600-1000 words long. You may not write about the same text as you have used for the critical essay.

Your Paper 2 relies on you being able to look at an unseen text and write an essay about it, in the space of 75 minutes. This is worth 25% of your final grade and your work is marked by Cambridge examiners.

Paper 3 (also worth 25% and marked by Cambridge examiners) tests you on your knowledge of the texts you have studied. You may not have the texts in the exam with you. The first task is based on an extract from a text you have studied; the second task is an exam question which you must answer without an extract.

Grade boundaries change every year. As an example, in June 2017, students had to score at least 80 out of 100 weighted marks to earn an A*, while a C was at a minimum of 51 marks. You can check past years’ boundaries here.