KS4 /English: Sign of Four

strand cover cc licence

The Sign of Four is set on the AQA 8702 syllabus. The activities can form a unit on Sherlock Holmes and Place or be used separately. The materials provided here allow students to develop analytical skills and explore the importance of place and Arthur Conan Doyle’s presentation of it in The Sign of Four.  They encourage students to compare Sherlock Holmes’s late nineteenth-century London with modern London, and to think about Conan Doyle’s presentation of other places in the book, including the wider British Empire.  They also ask students to think about the development of modern communications in Britain in the nineteenth century and to trace the importance of communications within the text.

They address National Curriculum statutory requirements:

read and appreciate the depth and power of the English literary heritage through: 

•reading a wide range of high-quality, challenging, classic literature and extended literary non-fiction, such as essays, reviews and journalism including works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries

understand and critically evaluate texts through: 

•seeking evidence in the text to support a point of view, including justifying inferences with evidence 

•analysing a writer’s choice of vocabulary, form, grammatical and structural features, and evaluating their effectiveness and impact 

Holmes 1

They address GCSE English Literature assessment objectives:

• A01 Read, understand and respond to texts 

• A02 Analyse the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate.

• A03 Show understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written.

• A04 Use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Download all your resources here:

Teacher pack



Created by Clare Pettitt with Anne Chapman.  With thanks to Mr R Loye and pupils from Hylands School, Chelmsford for testing these resources!