The actor, who has also been cast in War Horse, would play the orphan Pip, whose rise through society is aided by an unknown benefactor.
Mike Newell, who helmed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, will direct from a screenplay penned by Rowan Joffe.
Helena Bonham Carter is also in negotiations to take on the role of Miss Havisham, who is jilted at the altar by her fiancé.
Great Expectations will be produced in time for Dickens's bicentenary celebrations in 2012.
The young British actor was hand-picked by Stephen Spielberg for the adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel War Horse.
His only previous on-screen appearance is on the television series Life Bites.