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Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture BA

UCAS code Q8Q2
Year of entry 2017
  View 2018 entry »
Course Length 3 years full time
Department Classics »
Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures »

Studying a Joint Honours degree in Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture allows you to examine both ancient and modern culture through a variety of texts and media, all taught using their modern English translations.

If you are captivated by classical literature and philosophy and are keen to understand more about ancient history and classical archaeology, Classical Studies is ideal.

Classical Studies offers a great deal of choice in subjects related to the ancient world, immersing you in lots of aspects of ancient Greece and Rome – its literature, history, philosophy and archaeology – even its languages; Greek and Latin can be studied at whatever level you’re at and for one, two or three years.

As a student of Classical Studies you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience.

  • The Department of Classics is a centre for excellence in both teaching and research, 98% of our research is recognized as world-leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognized (REF 2014).
  • A thriving Classics Society contributes to the friendly and sociable atmosphere of the Classics department.

Comparative Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to study global literature as well as to explore film, philosophy and visual arts. CLC combines a fascinating breadth of material with a focus on contexts – places, periods, and genres – to explore how key cultural shifts transform how we see, represent, and make sense of our changing world. CLC at Royal Holloway is a unique and intellectually stimulating degree which will develop you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker.

We’ve developed this degree so that you can tailor it to suit your own evolving interests, choosing from our exceptionally wide range of fascinating options, ranging across continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, novels and poetry to philosophy, cinema and art. We will read, watch, and compare from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York, from Cuba to Korea, from epics to crime fiction, and from tragedy to the avant-garde. CLC enables you to study texts originally written in many languages, all translated into in English.

Core modules

Year 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: International Film 1 - Contexts and Practices

This module will introduce you to some key tenets of film theory and apply them to a selection of important pre- and post-war European and international films. It will familiarise you with the analysis of aspects of film style, genre and national and international contexts. The set films on the module will include canonical works from a century of cinema history, by filmmakers such as Joseph von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Pedro Almodovar, and significant examples of technique and style.

Comparative Literature and Culture: Reading Texts - Criticism for Comparative Literature

This module will introduce you to the theory and practices of textual analysis and comparative textual analysis as well as to the major debates about the theory and practice of comparative literature in a transnational context. You will be given extracts from a variety of historically, geographically, culturally, and stylistically diverse texts and introduced to a range of analytical techniques and approaches. In addition to developing close reading skills and acquainting yourself with key examples of classic and contemporary literature from across the world, you will encounter important critical issues, first in connection with practices of reading more broadly, and secondly, in relation to the history and practice of comparatism. All passages from non-English-language works will be given in English translation.

Comparative Literature and Culture: Tales of the City - Introduction to Thematic Analysis

This module will introduce you to a range of literary and filmic texts depicting different aspects of the city. The focus on a common thematic ground allows you to develop skills of comparison and analysis, while encouraging you to reflect on wider questions of urban space, public and private spheres, and alterity. The works to be studied on the city explicitly engage with three periods and aspects of the modern city: early twentieth-century modernity; post-war industrialisation and urbanisation; and the contemporary transnational metropolis and multiculturalism. Themes that run through the module include: money/poverty, technology, migration, crime, gender and sexuality.

Comparative Literature and Culture: Introduction to Literary Genre - Tragedy

Murder, passion, ambition, cruelty, suicide, jealousy, anguish: over the centuries, tragedy has explored the extremes of human experience and emotion. This module introduces you to a range of tragedies from ancient Greece onwards, exploring how dramatists have combined themes, characters, plot, stagecraft and emotion to produce some of the most compelling, enduring and powerful literary works we know.

Year 2

Comparative Literature and Culture: Histories of Representation

Comparing short stories from different periods and geographical areas is a great way of exploring how literature evolves structurally and thematically in response to different ideas and contexts. In this module you will read short stories - and look at examples of visual art - from the eighteenth century to the present day to discover what structural and symbolic elements characterize major movements of Western art, including the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism and Postmodernism. All non-English-language texts are in English translation.

Comparative Literature and Culture: Critical and Comparative Approaches

The module takes the form of a chronological account of the major trends and currents in post-war western literary and critical theory. It will show in clear, accessible terms, how critical and literary theory has evolved, from an essentially universalist notion of the author/work/critic relation to one informed by semiology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, questions of sexuality and gender, race, and the history of post-colonialism. The set text includes examples of different types of theory applied to literary texts, and further case-studies will be supplied by individual tutors. You will be encouraged to attempt different theoretical readings of chosen literary material through coursework and group presentations at the end of the module.

Year 3

All modules are optional

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: Pratique du Français 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: Intensive French for Beginners 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: The Visual Image in French Culture and Society

Comparative Literature and Culture: Key French Texts - the Individual and Society

Comparative Literature and Culture: French History Through Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: German Language 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: Intensive Beginners' German 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: Introduction to German Studies

Comparative Literature and Culture: German History and Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture: Intensive Italian For Beginners

Comparative Literature and Culture: Visual Arts 1 - Artists and their Materials

Comparative Literature and Culture: The Heritage of Dante and The Renaissance

Comparative Literature and Culture: Building the Italian Nation - Heroes and anti-Heroes from Pinocchio to The Leopard

Comparative Literature and Culture: Fascist Italy

Comparative Literature and Culture: The Birth of Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Visual Arts 1 - Artists and their Materials

Comparative Literature and Culture: Intensive Spanish 1

Comparative Literature and Culture: Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage

Comparative Literature and Culture: Text and Image in the Hispanic World

Comparative Literature and Culture: Culture and Society In Modern Spain

Comparative Literature and Culture: Culture and Identity in Latin America

Comparative Literature and Culture: Authors and Readers in 20th Century Spanish American fiction

Comparative Literature and Culture: Comparative Hispanic Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture: Visualising Cuba - Text, Image and Representation

Year 2

Comparative Literature and Culture: Writing Romance and Desire

Comparative Literature and Culture: Cinema In France - From Modernism to the Postmodern

Comparative Literature and Culture: Death, Desire, Decline - Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka

Comparative Literature and Culture: Love and Marriage in Major Novels by Theodor Fontane

Comparative Literature and Culture: Representations of Childhood and Youth in Modern German Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture: Dante's Comedy - Themes and Ideas

Comparative Literature and Culture: Postwar Italian Cinema

Comparative Literature and Culture: Art and Literature In Renaissance Florence

Comparative Literature and Culture: Renaissance Transgressions - Aretino, Cellini, Bruno

Comparative Literature and Culture: Italian Crime Fiction

Comparative Literature and Culture: International Film 2 - Readings and Representations

Comparative Literature and Culture: A Special Theme in the Novel - Transgression

Comparative Literature and Culture: Boccaccio - Decameron

Comparative Literature and Culture: Visual Arts 2 - Genres and Movements

Comparative Literature and Culture: Deviance, Defiance and Disorder in Early Modern Spanish and French Literature

Comparative Literature and Culture: Gender and Clothing in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture: Constructing Identity in Contemporary Spanish Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Myths of the Feminine in the Spanish Novel

Comparative Literature and Culture: Twentieth Century Mexican Visual Arts and Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Love in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel

Comparative Literature and Culture: Rebels, Revolution and Representation in Latin America

Year 3

Comparative Literature and Culture: Arthurian Romance - Chrétien De Troyes

Comparative Literature and Culture: Repression And Rebellion - The Father and The Father's Law

Comparative Literature and Culture: Image, Identity and Consumer Culture in Post-war Fiction and Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Text and Image in France - from Cubism to the Present

Comparative Literature and Culture: Ethics and Violence - Murder, Suicide and Genocide in Literature and Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Wanton Women - Artists and Writers of the French avant-garde

Comparative Literature and Culture: Blindness and Vision in French Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture: Doubles, Devils, and Deadly Spiders - 19th-Century German Gothic Literature

Comparative Literature and Culture: Narrative and Identity - The German Novel from the 18th to the 21st Century

Comparative Literature and Culture: Dream Factories - Recent German Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Modern European Philosophy 1 - Husserl to Heidegger

Comparative Literature and Culture: Dante - Divine Comedy 2

Comparative Literature and Culture: Of Women, Knights, Weapons and Loves - the Italian Chivalric Tradition

Comparative Literature and Culture: Shooting History - Dictatorship, Terror and Crime in Italian Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Italian Fashion and Design

Comparative Literature and Culture: The Postmodern In Italian Literature - Pioneers, Practitioners and Critics

Comparative Literature and Culture: From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde

Comparative Literature and Culture: The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction

Comparative Literature and Culture: Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film

Comparative Literature and Culture: Humans and Other Animals in Twenty-First Century Fiction and Thought

Comparative Literature and Culture: Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film - Dissertation

Comparative Literature and Culture: Contemporary Mexican Cinema

Comparative Literature and Culture: Journeys of Discovery in Twentieth Century Spanish American Literature

Comparative Literature and Culture: Devotion, Deceit, Desire - Literature of the Spanish Golden Age

Comparative Literature and Culture: Horror Cinema in the Hispanic World

Comparative Literature and Culture: Dissertation

The course has a flexible structure, whereby students take twelve course units at the rate of four per year, including both core courses to develop your critical skills, and optional course units. 

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Outside classes, you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study, including completing language exercises and reading prescribed and open material. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

In your final year the Classics department provides ongoing support for your dissertation work, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you are experiencing problems and/or if you have specific queries.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take.

Typical offers

Typical offers


The offer given will take into consideration:

  • subjects taken at A level
  • the educational context in which academic
     achievements have been gained
  • whether the Extended Project Qualification is 
    being taken
Required/preferred subjects

Preferred subjects: any Arts or Humanities A levels

Required: One A level in an essay based subject and at least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English. 

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher Level including an essay-based subject with a minimum of 32 points overall  
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject area plus one essay 
BTEC National Diploma Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject plus an A Level Grade B 
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Distinction in a relevant subject plus A Level Grades BB 
Welsh Baccalaureate

Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate

Scottish Advanced Highers AB including an essay based subject plus Higher Level requirements  
Scottish Highers AABBB plus Advanced Higher Level requirements  
Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level including an essay based subject 
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass with at least 30 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit. Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant is 21 or over at the time of application and has had a break from education 

Other UK qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

Please select a qualification

Please select a qualification

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in each remaining subscore

For equivalencies please see here


For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. Royal Holloway offers an International Foundation Programme and pre-sessional English language courses, allowing students to further develop their study skills and English language before starting their undergraduate degree.

Our degree programmes not only promote academic achievement but also the means to hone the life-skills necessary to excel, post-graduation.

Studying Classics involves analysing the cultural, social and political context of the ancient world.  By choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline you will develop a broad range of skills which are highly prized by employers, including:

  • the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently
  • the ability to critically digest, analyse and summarise content
  • time management and the discipline to meet deadlines
  • organisation and research skills
  • problem-solving skills and capability

Being able to understand and process complex issues, to critically evaluate resources and construct coherent arguments both verbally and in writing is why many Royal Holloway classicists become employed in law, marketing, publishing, the media, government and finance. Employers like Channel 4, multinational law firm SJ Berwin, The Guildhall (City of London), accountancy firm KPMG, the Natural History Museum, Customs and Immigration, London Advertising, Broadstone Pensions and Investments and the Armed Forces have all recently recruited Royal Holloway alumni from the Department of Classics. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year 2017/18**: £14,000

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year. This amount is subject to the UK Parliament approving a change to fee and loan regulations that has been proposed by the UK Government. In the future, should the proposed changes to fee and loan regulations allow it, Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for UK and EU nationals annually. If relevant UK legislation continues to permit it, Royal Holloway will maintain parity between the tuition fees charged to UK and EU students for the duration of their degree studies.

**Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for international fee paying students annually. Tuition fees are unlikely to rise more than 5 per cent each year. For further information on tuition fees please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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