Choosing VCE Literature

Choosing VCE Literature

This week on our blog, Literature teacher and Insight writer Briony Schroor gives her tips and advice for anyone considering studying VCE Literature.

So you’re thinking of studying VCE Literature?

There are lots of great reasons for choosing VCE Literature, either as your only VCE English option or as a complement to VCE English or VCE English Language. VCE Lit is an exciting and interesting course that offers students the opportunity to read some fabulous texts and to develop essential skills that are useful both at school and beyond the classroom.

When you’re making this big decision there are some important things to consider.

  • What do you enjoy?
  • What are you good at?
  • What type of classroom do you like to be in?
  • What skills will you need in VCE and after school, particularly at tertiary level?
  • What other subjects are you thinking of doing, and how will your choice of VCE English subjects affect your other subject choices?

Do you like to read?

VCE Literature is the subject for you if you:

  • have ever stayed up past midnight just to finish a book
  • remember the name of your primary school librarian, or if your current librarian recognises you and greets you by name
  • have read everything written by your favourite author
  • like to talk about books or watch YouTube videos about books
  • always answer ‘reading’ when asked about your hobbies.

In Literature, students are exposed to a variety of texts: some challenging, some tragic, some funny, some romantic, and all interesting. If you’re a reader, or if you want to become a better reader, then Lit will help you to explore that interest. Unlike VCE English, which offers a similar course to the English classes you’ve done all through secondary school, Lit takes reading to the next level; you will have the chance to talk about how our ideas are shaped by the stories we read and the ways in which we read them.

How serious are you about VCE?

VCE Literature is the subject for you if you:

  • have ever rolled your eyes in English when someone forgets the main character’s name (especially when you were studying Romeo and Juliet)
  • can answer most of your English teacher’s questions (even if you don’t always put your hand up)
  • would enjoy the chance to write about texts in ways that exercise all your critical and creative thinking skills.

VCE Lit classes tend to be smaller than English classes, and Lit students are often more committed to reading the books, contributing to class discussion and developing their skills. So if you want to be in a class with like-minded students who are interested in the lessons, then Lit is a good choice for you. Because VCE Literature is an optional course rather than the default (or even compulsory) selection, the students taking it want to be in the classroom, and they tend to bring a positive attitude towards learning.

Do you want to challenge yourself?

VCE Literature is the subject for you if you:

  • want to know more about how writers write
  • want to expand your understanding of different types of texts, including poetry, plays, short stories and memoirs
  • want to develop your thinking and writing skills
  • want to have something to say when people are talking about Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen or Angelou
  • want to read some of the greatest texts produced by novelists, poets and playwrights (or see some great films by notable directors).

VCE Literature gives you a taste of the greater world of writers and writing. It allows you to learn about books you otherwise might not read for yourself, and it gives you the skills to go further with texts to explore worlds you might not have visited on your own. VCE Lit also challenges students to improve their thinking, so that they come to understand big ideas that they might not encounter in other English classrooms. VCE Literature is not easy, but it is interesting and mind-expanding, and in my experience as a teacher, students love it.

Still not sure?

This is not a decision you should rush, so before you fill in your subject choice form you should:

  • read through the VCAA Literature Study Design to see if it interests you (
  • talk to senior Literature students about their experiences in the Lit classroom
  • consult your English teacher, who will be able to give you personalised advice
  • talk to the Lit teachers at your school and ask how the Literature course runs
  • flick through the Lit books taught at your school (there should be copies in the library) and compare them with the books on the English course
  • talk to the teachers of your other subjects and ask them whether Lit will go well with their courses.

Think carefully about what you want to get out of your VCE subjects, and consider whether you’re ready for the Lit adventure – we’re looking forward to seeing you!


Ready to study VCE Literature? Then make sure you purchase the new Literature Handbook: A guide to literary analysis. It’s a comprehensive and accessible reference book that covers the essential knowledge and skills for analysing novels, short stories, drama, poetry, nonfiction and film.

The Literature Handbook is produced by Insight Publications, an independent Australian educational publisher.

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