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

Comparative Literature and Culture and English BA

Please note that information shown below may be subject to change.

UCAS code
Year of entry
View 2018 entry »
Course length
3 years full time
Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures »
English »

This joint honours course in Comparative Literature and Culture and English gives you access to a world of literature, allowing you to compare and contrast the English literary tradition with an international canon of works. It willl provide you with the opportunity to combine the study of global literature, philosophy, film and art with the rigorous critical study of English literature, developing you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker, with impressive communication and presentation skills.

Comparative Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to study 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.

You can choose from an exceptionally wide range of fascinating options, spanning continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, covering novels, poetry, philosophy, cinema and art. You will read, watch, and compare texts from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York, from Cuba to Korea, from epics to crime fiction, and from tragedy to the avant-garde. Comparative Literature and Culture also enables you to study a varety of foreign texts originally written in many languages, all translated into English.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

  • You will gain a solid knowledge of the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • Study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

You will be taught by world-class experts who genuinely want to get to know you. We create a supportive environment, often using group work so you can try out new ideas and participate in lively discussions. Throughout your studies, you will receive personal guidance to ensure your course is aligned to your strengths, interests and career plans. As part of our close-knit international community you will be able to get involved with an array of cultural initiatives that take place on campus, and make the most of being within easy reach of London and its many events and attractions.

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Core modules

Year 1

The core modules in Comparative Literature and Culture are:

Reading Texts - Criticism for Comparative Literature 
Tales of the City - Introduction to Thematic Analysis

The core modules in English Literature are:

Critical Foundations - Thinking as a Critic

The aim of this module is to help you make the transition into university level work by introducing you to reading, writing and thinking as a critic. The module focuses on developing the abilities and skills of literary criticism and introducing the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to English as a discipline, including questions about interpretation, periodization, form, genre, canon, value, intention, narrative, voice, framing and identity. 

Re-orienting the Novel

This module introduces you to the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form through a range of contemporary, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels. Organised thematically, the module considers earlier novels in relation to contemporary examples. 

Introduction to Poetry

This module is designed to introduce you to a variety of major poems in English from the Renaissance to the present day. By the end of the course you will be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a wide range of poems from Shakespeare to the present; a familiarity with a variety of poetic forms; an understanding of how poetry functions; and the necessary skills for analysing poetic technique.

Year 2

The core modules in Comparative Literature and Culture are:

Histories of Representation
Critical and Comparative Approaches

You must also pick two options from modules which typically include the following:

International Film 2 - Readings and Representations
A Special Theme in the Novel - Transgessions
Visual Arts 2 - Genre and Movements
Gender and Clothing in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture
Deviance, Defiance and Disorder in Early Modern Spanish and French Literature

The core modules in English Literature are:

Introduction to Medieval Literature

This module introduces you to the earliest literary writings in English, covering a span of eight hundred years, from 700 to 1500. You will cover an extensive range of genres and texts - from Beowulf to Arthurian romance, and dream vision to religious drama, and think about issues of vital concern and interest to medieval writers and audiences: religion, love, violence, the supernatural, and kingship and society.


This module facilitates a deeper - as well as a more pleasurable and rewarding - understanding of the range of Shakespeare’s work. You will be encouraged to think about the plays as theatre as well as printed literature, although a main feature of the course will be its close attention to the extraordinary fertility and force of Shakespeare’s dramatic language. While paying close attention to Shakespeare’s very different historical context in the Renaissance, the module will be equally concerned with the question of whether the plays are still relevant to us today.

Year 3

You must pick two options in Comparative Literature and Culture from modules which typically include the following:

From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde
The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction
Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film
Humans and Other Animals in Twenty-First Century Fiction and Thought

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

Optional modules in Comparative Literature and Culture include:

The Individual and Society - Key Works in French Literature

In this module you will develop an understanding of how questions of social change, social mobility, success and failure, ambition and honour, oppression and alienation have been portrayed in key French literary texts. You will look at a number of key authors, considering the broad historical and cultural context of their writing. You will also examine the meaning and implications of key terms in the literary-historical tradition, such as romanticism, realism, and existentialism.

French History Through Film

In this module you will develop an understanding of the medium of film as a means of both conveying and constructing history. You will look at the relationship between film and history, notably the representation of key historical moments in French history such as war. You will consider how national identity is created and sustained through the visual representation of history, exploring technique of textual analusis and personal judgement to critically examine a range of cinematic texts and genres including narrative fiction, documentary and propaganda.

The Visual Image in French Culture and Society

In this module you will develop an understanding of the complexity and richness of the visual image. You will look at the relationship between word and image in a variety of contexts and media, critically examining primary and secondary material using techniques of textual analysis and personal judgement.

Introduction to German Studies
German History and Culture - Past and Present
Politics, Religion, and Love - The Italian Three Crowns (Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio)
Fascist Italy
Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage
Culture and Identity in Latin America
Comparative Hispanic Culture
International Film 1 - Contexts and Practices
The Birth of Film
Visual Arts 1 - An Introduction to Visual Media

Optional modules in English Literature include:

Introduction to Medieval Literature




Year 2

Optional modules in Comparative Literature and Culture include:

Writing Romance and Desire
Cinema in France from Modernism to the Postmodern
Death, Desire, Decline - Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka
Love and Marriage in Major Novels by Theodor Fontane
Representations of Childhood and Youth in Modern German Culture
Post-War Italian Cinema
Renaissance Florence
Italian Crime Fiction
Constructing Identity in Contemporary Spanish Film
Twentieth Century Mexican Visual Arts and Film
Rebels, Revolution and Representation in Latin America

Optional modules in English Literature include:

Middle English Poetry


Medieval Drama


Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism


Medieval Dream and Vision


Medieval Epic and Romance


The Gawain-Poet


Myths of Origin in Old English Literature


Old English Riddles


Love, Honour, Obey' - Literature, 1525 to 1670


Intensive Shakespeare - Comedy, History, Tragedy


Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642


Theatre and The City, 1590 to 1625


Early Modern Bodies


Paradise in Early Modern Literature


Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century


Eighteenth Century Bodies


The Age of Oppositions - Literature, 1660 to 1780


Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel


Fictions of Sensation


Victoria Literature




Creative Writing - Structure and Style


Writing Migrant Identities


Enivornmental Literatures


Four National Poets - Gillian Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead and Paula Meehan


Literature of The Fin de Siècle


British Drama from Shaw to Priestly


Dark Reform - Scandal and Satire in American Culture


Contemporary Debates in Literary and Critical Theory


Modernist Literature


Year 3

Optional modules in Comparative Literature and Culture include:

Research-based Dissertation
Visual Arts Dissertation
Image, Identity and Consumer Culture in Post-war Fiction and Film
Text and Image in France - From Cubism to the Present
Ethics and Violence - Murder, Suicide and Genocide in Literature and Film
Villains and Villainy in Early Modern French Theatre
Narrative and Identity - The German Novel
Dark Tales - E.T.A. Hoffmann and German Romanticism
National Socialism and the Third Reich in German Film and Visual Culture from 1933 to the Present
Dante - The Divine Comedy
Shooting History - Dictatorship, Terror and Crime in Italian Film
The Postmodern in Italian Literature - Pioneers, Practitioners and Critics
Contemporary Mexican Cinema
Devotion, Deceit, Desire - Literature of the Spanish Golden Age
Horror Cinema in the Hispanic World

Optional modules in English Literature include:

A Marriage of Minds?


Special Author Project - Joseph Conrad


Special Author Project - Virginia Woolf


Special Author Project - Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales


Special Author Project - The Brontes


Special Author Project - John Donne


Special Author Project - Charles Dickens


Special Author Project - Thomas Hardy


Special Author Project - J.M. Coetzee


Special Author Project - Samuel Beckett


Special Author Project - Christopher Marlowe


Special Author Project - Oscar Wilde


Of Circumference - Reading Emily Dickinson


Rewriting Mythologies in 20th Century Literature


Character - Literary Persons, Selfhood and Interiority in Early Modern Literature


Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture


Special Topic - The Girl in the Book


The Post-Colonial Novel - the Art of Resistance


The Pre-Raphaelite Movement in Art and Literature


Byron, Modernity and Europe, 1780 to 1830


Sex, Death and Celebrity - Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama


African-American Literature


Science Fiction


The Literature of Chicago


Theatre and the City - 1590 to 1730


Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century


The New York Schools - Poetry, Painting and Music in the 1950s


The Nineteen Thirties, Fiction and the Road to War


Vernacular Writing


Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism


Old English Riddles


Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642


Paradise in Early Modern English Literature


Middle English Poetry


Medieval Epic and Romance


Beowulf and The Critics


Literature and Philosophy


Fictions of Sensation


Writing Migrant Identities


Advanced Romanticism - The 18teens


Children's Literature


The Art of Noise


A Year in the Life of Victorian Fiction - 1855


The Lives of Writing


Ethics and Aesthetics in the novels of J.M. Coetzee


Reading Beowulf


Medieval Drama


Old English Literature


Advanced Shakespeare - The Problem Plays


Early Modern Bodies


Medieval Dream and Vision


Painting / Writing


Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century


Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel


Everyday Literature


Queer Histories - Contemporary Gay and Lesbian British and Irish Fiction


Odysseus' Scar - Time in Modern Literature and Film




Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century


The Great American Novella


Exploring James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake




Literatures of Genocide and Atrocity


Shakespeare in Stages - Shakespearen Adaptation across Four Centuries


Shakespearean Echoes, Off shoots and Responses


Special Topic: Ideas in Contemporary Fiction


Poetic Practice


The Brontës


Reading The Waste Land


The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units the rate of four per year, including both core and optional units.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and small seminar groups, where you will be able to try out new ideas by giving presentations and participating in lively discussions in a supportive environment. 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.

We use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. 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

How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.
  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required/preferred subjects Required:  A-Level grade B English Literature or English Language and Literature and at least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics
Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5, at Higher level including Higher Level English with 32 points overall
BTEC National Extended Diploma

Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject including distinction in all essay units plus grade A in GCSE English Literature.

Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus Grade B in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature.

BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus A-level Grades BB including B in English Literature or English Language & Literature.

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

ABB including B in English Literature 

Scottish Highers

AABBB including B in English Literature 

Irish Leaving Certificate

H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 including English Literature

Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass with at least 24 level 3 credits at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit. All level 3 English studies units must be passed with Distinction.  Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant 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. 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.

On completion of your Comparative Literature and Culture and English degree at Royal Holloway you will have proven analytical skills and be an adaptable and critical thinker with impressive communication and leadership skills - all of which will appeal to future employers. Your degree not only gives you the directly relevant knowledge to enter the literary, creative, media and arts sectors, but also a range of valuable transferable skills, thereby allowing you to keep your options open, crucial in today’s world of flexible careers. You may also choose to continue your studies by means of a postgraduate degree.

We’re committed to helping you enhance your employment and prepare for the choices ahead.  Some of the tailored opportunities you are encourage to take up include work placements, specialise training workshops, networking events and our annual festival of culture.

  • Our recent graduates have very successfully entered a wide range of careers including law, journalism, publishing, finance, business, teaching, marketing and the media, as well as gone onto postgraduate study in a variety of fields.  

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

International students tuition fee per year**: £16,500

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 about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations, and for students starting a degree in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates has not yet been confirmed for students starting a degree in the academic year 2019/20.

**Fees for international students starting a degree at Royal Holloway in the academic year 2019/20 have not yet been set, and those for 2018/19 are shown for reference purposes only. Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and 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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