English literature A-level students are to be required to study modern authors such as Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby or Will Self under recommendations to change exam syllabuses.
Draft specifications from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority show that from 2009 every candidate will have to read at least one writer first published after 1990. Other changes see the number of books students have to study for their course increased from eight to 12. The 50 per cent increase is alarming some subject specialists.
Bethan Marshall, a lecturer in English education at King's college, London, was concerned that the change would have an enormous impact. She said: "You will do more texts and it will inevitably mean that you will do them more superficially."
The changes propose a less prescriptive approach to the teaching of pre-20th century literature.
Currently, four of the eight texts students have to study have to be published before 1900. Under the proposals, only two of the 12 texts have to be from this period, although a third must have been published before 1914.