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Home > Courses > Courses for 2017 > Undergraduate > Comparative Literature and Culture and Italian
More in this section Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Comparative Literature and Culture and Italian BA

For 2018 entry this course will be replaced by BA Modern Languages and Comparative Literature and Culture.

UCAS code QR23
Year of entry 2017
Course Length
4 years full time
Department Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures »


Comparative Literature and Culture and Italian is a Joint Honours degree which offers you the opportunity to combine the study of global literature, film and visual arts with your passion for the Italian language and literature. You will also spend a year of your degree in Italy.

Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC) 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 English.

As a student of Italian, you will not only learn to speak and write fluently, you will also develop excellent communication and research skills and combine language proficiency with cross-cultural perspectives. 

You will be able to tailor your study of Italian to suit your specific areas of interest, gaining a greater understanding of Italian visual and musical arts, fashion and design, philosophy, literature, politics and history including topics such as Dante or Renaissance art.

You will also have the exciting opportunity to spend a year working, teaching or studying in Italy at a partner university, teaching placement at an Italian school or work placement in business or industry.

  • Whether you are a beginner or advanced student when you start, by the time you graduate you will be fluent in Italian: confident in reading, understanding and analysing text and able to write with ease and accuracy.
  • Our research staff are engaged in research at the highest level internationally; we are in the top 10 of UK Modern Language departments for research quality and the top in London (Research Assessment Exercise 2014).

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.

Italian: Intensive Italian for Beginners

This is your core Italian language module (beginners’ pathway). It comprises a written and an oral component. There are five hours of seminars per week in which a communicative approach is adopted and the teaching is carried out in Italian whenever possible. Grammar is taught in context in accordance with your specific needs as they arise. In the oral component, you will learn to speak about set topics related to everyday matters by completing set activities including listening comprehension and role play.

Italian: Advanced Italian Language 1

This is your core Italian language module in which you will develop your skills in writing, speaking and comprehending the Italian language. There are three hours of seminars per week as well as a grammar lecture taught fortnightly. The lessons are taught using a communicative approach and are conducted in Italian. In all parts of the module there will be a focus on learning in a cultural context, and in addition to formal grammar teaching you will develop your language skills by reading and analysing a variety of texts, articles, films, and recordings. Learning activities will include listening comprehension exercises and role play.

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.

Italian: Advanced Italian 2 for Post Beginners 

This is your core Italian language module (beginners’ pathway). It comprises a written and an oral component. There are five hours of seminars per week in which a communicative approach is adopted and the teaching is carried out in Italian whenever possible. You will continue to develop your Italian language skills through reading comprehension, commentary writing as well as translation from English into Italian. You will also analyse articles from Italian newspapers and podcasts related to social, cultural and political issues in contemporary Italy, and take part in informal debates during which you will practise expressing your opinions in Italian.

Italian: Advanced Italian 2

This is your core Italian language module in which you will continue to develop your skills in writing, speaking and comprehending the Italian language. There are three hours of seminars per week as well as a grammar lecture taught fortnightly. The lessons are taught using a communicative approach and are conducted in Italian. You will practise reading comprehension, commentary writing and translation from English into Italian, and will again analyse articles from Italian newspapers and podcasts related to social, cultural and political issues in contemporary Italy. You will also continue to work intensively on key aspects of grammar.

Year 3

The third year of this degree programme will be spent abroad, either studying or working or both. It is usually expected that students will spend at least 9 months overseas, in countries where the native langauges match the languages the student is studying. Students studying two langauges will be expected to divide their time between two relevant countries, i.e. one for each langauge. The School of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures will support students in finding a suitable study or work placement, but students are also expected to explore opportunities independently and the ultimate responsibility for securing such a placement lies with the student. Alternatively students may choose to enrol for courses at a partner university in the relevant country. This year forms an integral part of the degree programme; students on placement will be asked to complete assessed work which will be credited towards their degree, while in the case of those studying at a university, marks obtained for courses taken will be credited towards their degree. The same applies to the assessment of spoken language on return to Royal Holloway from the period of residence abroad.

Year 4

German: German Language 3

This is your core German language module in which you will continue to develop your skills in writing, speaking and comprehending the German language. There will be three seminar hours per week. In your grammar class you will work on the effective use of written register and style, and the presenting of a convincing argument. Your oral German classes will include debates and presentations. You will also be introduced to advanced translation skills, focusing on a variety of functional, literary, journalistic, factual and academic texts.

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

French: The Visual Image in French Culture and Society


French: Introduction to French Literature - Critical Skills


German: German History and Culture


Spanish: Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage


Spanish: Culture and Identity in Latin America


Spanish: Visualising Cuba - Text, Image and Representation


Italian: Fascist Italy


Modern Languages: Critical Analysis for Modern Linguists


Modern Languages: International Film 1 - Contexts and Practices


Modern Languages: Visual Arts 1 - An Introduction to Visual Media


Year 2

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: 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

Year 4

Comparative Literature and Culture: Arthurian Romance - Chrétien de Troyes
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: 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: 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 modular structure, whereby students take 14 course units at the rate of four per year in years 1, 2 and 4, and two units during the year abroad. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and small seminar groups as well as role play and conversational activities. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources such as Powerpoint slideshows, copies of selected primary and secondary texts, audiovisual materials, class and seminar preparation aids, links to relevant external sites, quizzes and grammar and essay writing guidance, 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 and who holds regular surgery hours at least twice weekly.

We use a range of assessment models to suit different learning styles, from online comprehension tests and individual and group presentations, to coursework and examinations. Coursework includes essays, language exercises, translations and reports. Oral presentations and computer-based tests are used in some course units to assess grammar and comprehension skills. You can, to some extent, choose course units which suit your own assessment preferences.

You will take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

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


  • If Italian is taken at A level grade B is required
  • An A-level in an essay based subject
  • 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 at least 5 at Higher Level in an essay-based subject with a minimum of 32 points overall.
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction,Distinction in a relevant subject.
BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject plus an A Level grade B in an essay-based subject.
BTEC National Extended Certificate Distinction plus A Level grades B, B including B in an essay-based subject.
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 subjectAB 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 at Higher Level.
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass with at least 30 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit in a relevant subject area. Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable 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. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Your future career (word count 163)

On completion of your Comparative Literature and Culture and Italian degree at Royal Holloway you will be equipped to operate successfully in a fast-changing and increasingly globalised and multi-cultural environment. You will have excellent communication, analytical and research skills combined with the proven ability to communicate fluently in Italian - all of which will appeal to future employers. Having spent a year abroad you will also have developed the kind of sensitivity to different cultures that is highly prized in the workplace. This experience and the skills gained will make you highly employable  and ready to pursue your chosen career.

  • Full time employment or further study achieved by 80% of graduates within six months of graduation (Unistats 2015). 
  • Recent graduates have launched careers in diverse roles as film, content writing, photographic editorial, journalism, sales and marketing, teaching, publishing and retail buying.  Others have pursued careers in a range of language-related fields, such as: international management, consultancy, sales and marketing, media and publishing, banking, the arts, politics, the Civil Service, teaching, travel and tourism, translating and interpreting.

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***: The cost of your year abroad will vary by country. Typical living costs to consider will be accommodation, food and household items, entertainment, travel, books and bills (including your mobile phone). You'll also need to budget for travel to and from your country of study. Additional costs compared to studying in the UK will also depend on personal choices and it is important to research the cost of living before the year commences.

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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