JAMB syllabus for Literature-in-English

The purpose of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) syllabus in Literature in English is to prepare the candidates for the Board’s examination. It is meant to evaluate their achievement of the course objectives, which are:

  • To stimulate and sustain their interest in Literature in English;
  • To create an awareness of the general principles of Literature and functions of language;
  • To appreciate literary works of all genres and across all cultures;
  • To apply the knowledge of Literature in English to the analysis of social, political and economic events in the society.

The list of recommended topics for Literature-in-English JAMB UTME:

Topic 1: Drama

A. Types:

  1. Tragedy
  2. Comedy
  3. Tragicomedy
  4. Melodrama
  5. Farce
  6. Opera etc.

B. Dramatic Techniques:

  1. Characterisation
  2. Dialogue
  3. Flashback
  4. Mime
  5. Costume
  6. Music/Dance
  7. Decor/scenery
  8. Acts/Scenes
  9. Soliloquy/aside
  10. Lighting etc.

C. Interpretation of the Prescribed Texts:

  1. Theme
  2. Plot
  3. Socio-political context
  4. Setting


Candidates should be able to:

  1. Identify the various types of drama;
  2. Analyse the contents of the various types of drama;
  3. Compare and contrast the features of different dramatic types;
  4. Demonstrate adequate knowledge of dramatic techniques used in each prescribed text;
  5. Differentiate between styles of selected playwrights;
  6. Determine the theme of any prescribed text;
  7. Identify the plot of the play;
  8. Apply the lessons of the play to everyday living
  9. Identify the spatial and temporal setting of the play.

Topic 2: Prose

A. Types:

  1. Fiction
    – Novel
    – Novella/Novelette
    – Short story
  2. Non-fiction
    – Biography
    – Autobiography
    – Memoir
  3. Faction: combination of fact and fiction

B. Narrative Techniques/Devices:

  1. Point of view
    – Omniscent/Third Person
    – First Person
  2. Characterisation
    – Round, flat, foil, hero, antihero, etc
  3. Language

C. Textual Analysis:

  1. Theme
  2. Plot
  3. Setting (Temporal/Spatial)
  4. Socio-political context


Candidates should be able to:

  1. Differentiate between types of prose;
  2. Identify the category that each prescribed text belongs to;
  3. Analyse the components of each type of prose;
  4. Identify the narrative techniques used in each of the prescribed texts;
  5. Determine an author’s narrative style;
  6. Distinguish between one type of character from another;
  7. Determine the thematic pre-occupation of the author of the prescribed text;
  8. Indicate the plot of the novel; identify the temporal and spatial setting of the novel.
  9. Identify the temporal and spatial setting of the novel
  10. Relate the prescribed text to real life situations.

Topic 3: Poetry

A. Types:

  1. Sonnet
  2. Ode
  3. Lyrics
  4. Elegy
  5. Ballad
  6. Panegyric
  7. Epic
  8. Blank Verse, etc.

B. Poetic Devices:

  1. Structure
  2. Imagery
  3. Sound(Rhyme/Rhythm, repetition, pun, onomatopoeia, etc.)
  4. Diction
  5. Persona

C. Appreciation:

  1. Thematic preoccupation
  2. Socio-political relevance
  3. Style.


Candidates should be able to:

  1. Identify different types of poetry;
  2. Compare and contrast the features of different poetic types:
  3. Determine the devices used by various poets;
  4. Show how poetic devices are used for aesthetic effect in each poem;
  5. Deduce the poet’s preoccupation from the poem;
  6. Appraise poetry as an art with moral values;
  7. Apply the lessons from the poem to real life situations.

Topic 4: General Literary Principles

A. Literary Terms:

Foreshadowing, suspense, theatre, monologue, dialogue, soliloquy, symbolism, protagonist, antagonist, figures of speech, satire, stream of consciousness, synecdoche, metonymy, etc.

In addition to those listed above under the different genres.

B. Literary Principles:

  1. Direct imitation in play;
  2. Versification in drama and poetry;
  3. Narration of people’s experiences;
  4. Achievement of aesthetic value, etc.

C. Relationship Between Literary Terms and Principles:


Candidates should be able to:

  1. Identify literary terms in drama, prose and poetry;
  2. Identify the general principles of Literature;
  3. Differentiate between literary terms and principles;
  4. Use literary terms appropriately.

Topic 5: Literary Appreciation

Unseen passages/extracts from Drama, Prose and Poetry.


Candidates should be able to:

  1. Determine literary devices used in a given passage/extract;
  2. Provide a meaningful interpretation of the given passage/extract;
  3. Relate the extract to true life experiences.

UTME Harmonized Prescribed Text Books (Literature in English) 2016 – 2019



  1. Frank Ogodo Ogbeche : Harvest of Corruption

Non African:

  1. William Shakespeare : Othello



  1. Amma Darko : Faceless
  2. Bayo Adebowale : Lonely Days


  1. Richard Wright : Native Son



  1. Birago Diop : Vanity
  2. Gbemisola Adeoti : Ambush
  3. Gabriel Okara : Piano and Drums
  4. Gbanabam Hallowell : The Dining Table
  5. Lenrie Peter : The Panic of Growing Older
  6. Kofi Awoonor : The Anvil and the Hammer

Non African:

  1. Alfred Tennyson : Crossing the Bar
  2. George Herbert : The Pulley
  3. William Blake : The School Boy
  4. William Morris : The Proud King

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