This Joint Honours course you will deepen your understanding of English literature, and give you the opportunity to gain fluency in the language of your choice - French, German, Italian or Spanish.
Whether you start at beginners’, advanced or native-speaker level, you will study the core language components for the language you have chosen, gaining skills in writing, reading, speaking and listening. All our teaching is led by native speakers.
The remainder of your modern languages study will give you an opportunity to explore the literature, art, culture and history of the language area you are studying, from seventeenth-century French theatre to representations of childhood and youth in German culture, and from Italian fashion and design to visual arts from all the corners of the Spanish-speaking world. As a modern linguist, you will develop excellent communication and research skills, and combine lingusitic proficiency with cross-cultural perspectives.
In your third year you will have the opportunity to spend a year working, teaching or studying abroad, where you will immerse yourself in another language and culture, truly broadening your horizons in the process.
- On graduation you will have language and analytical skills in a modern language together with additional knowledge of culture, society and history, culture and society that will give you a valuable competitive edge in an increasingly globalised world.
- 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).
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 original insights into 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.
Core ModulesYear 1. All languages we teach have a beginners', post-A Level, and native speaker level pathway, allowing you to study one ab initio (from scratch). As a Modern Languages student you will take:
- Critical Analysis for Linguists
- Introduction to Translation: Professional Skills
In this module, you will develop your core skills in French without prior knowledge of the language. You will look at the basic French grammatical structures and examine the diversity of culture in Francophone countries. You will gain confidence in conversing everyday matters with clear pronunciation and read simple written texts in French. You will become familiar with writing short paragraphs in French on everyday matters, or in answer to reading comprehension questions, and enhance your comprehension skills to understand simple recordings and conversations.
In this module you will develop your skills in writing, speaking and comprehending the French language, building a wide and specific vocabulary. In written French, you will look at a range of themes, including French Institutions, the French Revolution, 'Laïcité' and 'La francophonie'. In spoken French, you will discuss and present on a variety of audio-visual materials as well as texts, with topics linked to French current affairs, media, cultural issues in French and other Francophone countries. In the practice seminars, you will gain enhanced listening comprehension skills, oral skills and knowledge of grammatical structure.
In this module you will develop an understanding of both French-English translation and critical analysis of French-language material. You will look at a range of source material, which may include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and/or newspaper and magazine articles. You will closely examine the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of French-language text types, and explore published translations of French material to discern the translation strategies adopted. You will consider a range of translation issues, including cultural specificity, untranslatability, intercultural communication, as well as stylistic features, idioms, techniques of linguistic compensation, and word order.
In this module you will develop your ability to understand common phrases and expressions in written and spoken German relating to basic personal and familial information, employment, and local geography. You will look at the structure of the German language and learn to write complex texts. You will also examine the culture and diversity of German-speaking countries.
In this module you will develop a broad general vocabulary and be able to understand natural, idiomatic spoken German. You will become familar with reading simple written passages of authentic German, identifying and analysing the syntactical and grammatical structures in these. You will look at a range of modern written styles and conventions, writing your own short passages on a variety of set topics, and discuss personal and cultural issues in written and spoken German.
In this module you will develop an understanding of both German-English translation and critical analysis of German-language material. You will look at a range of source material, which may include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and / or newspaper and magazine articles. You will closely examine the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of German-language text types, and explore published translations of German material to discern the translation strategies adopted. You will consider a range of translation issues, including cultural specificity, untranslatability, intercultural communication, as well as stylistic features, idioms, techniques of linguistic compensation, and word order.
- Intensive Italian for Beginners
- Advanced Italian I
- Italian Language: Culture and Translation
- Intensive Spanish I
- Spanish 1
- Spanish Language: Culture and Translation
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to think, read and write as a critic. You will look at the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to the ‘disciplinary consciousness’ of English Literature, considering periodisation, form, genre, canon, intention, narrative, framing and identity.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form. You will look at a range of contemporary, eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels and learn to use concepts in narrative theory and criticism. You will consider literary history and make formal and thematic connections between texts and their varying socio-cultural contexts. You will examine novels such as 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe and 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, analysing their cultural and intellectual contexts.
In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of major poems in English. You will look at key poems from the Renaissance to the present day. You will engage with historical issues surrounding the poems and make critical judgements, considering stylistic elements such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, diction and imagery. You will examine poems from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath and analyse topics such as sound, the stanza and the use of poetic language.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the theories of communication and translation, and the key trends and tendencies within these fields. You will look intercultural communication and its political, economic and social implications, considering how meanings are carried between and affect different cultural contexts, undergoing shifts in the process. You will also examine broader questions of language and representation in the globalised world.
In this module you will further develop your ability to communicate effectively in French, in writing or orally, with good grammatical and lexical accuracy. You will look at texts from a variety of sources and examine authentic recordings from a range of subjects. Much of the content is delivered in French, with the exception of grammar classes, which are taught in English.
In this module you will further develop your ability to communicate effectively in French, enhancing your linguistic and analytical skills. You will learn to write concisely, accurately and effectively, paying particular attention to style and register as well as to specific methods of analysis. You will study key themes, such as 'Le travail en France', 'le malaise socia', and 'les jeunes et la société', gaining an enhanced understanding of contemporary French cultural and social issues. You will read and analyse texts from a variety of sources, ranging from literature to journalism, with a particular focus on how to structure an argument. You will also look at the techniques of film analysis.
In this module you will develop an understanding of translation from French to English through sustained translation practice. You will look at the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific problems generated when translating from French source text to English target text in a range of translation scenarios and across a range of text types. You will consider common translation challenges, such as conversion, transfer, compensation, gloss, exoticism, deceptive cognates, lexical gaps and cultural specificities, as well as examining the constraints of character count and house style.
- Intensive Beginners’ German II
- German Language II
- Advanced German Translation: Skills and Practice
- Advanced Italian II for Post Beginners
- Advanced Italian II
- Advanced Italian Translation: Skills and Practice
- Intensive Spanish II
- Spanish II
- Advanced Spanish Translation: Skills and Practice
You will spend the third year of this degree programme abroad, either studying, working, or both. It is usually expected that you will spend at least 9 months in a country where the native language is the same as the language you are studying. The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures will support you in finding a suitable study or work placement, but you will also be expected to explore opportunities independently. Alternatively, you may choose to enrol for modules at a partner university in your chosen country. This year forms an integral part of your degree programme. If you undertake a placement then you will be asked to complete assessed work which will be credited towards your degree, while in the case of those studying at a university, marks obtained for modules taken will be credited towards your degree. The same applies to your practical oral assessment on return to Royal Holloway from your year abroad.
In this module you will enhance your ability to analyse and compare written material from different sources. You will develop competence in accurate and discursive French, and extend your oral presentation skills, with particular emphasis on the formal spoken register. You will look at extracts from French documentaries and feature films, and listen to recordings and podcasts, such as the France Inter and France Culture programmes. You will also look at a range of cultural questions and examine the key features of French culture and society.
- German Language III
- Advanced Italian III
- Spanish III
Optional ModulesYear 1. Optional cultural modules in Modern Languages include:
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key tenets of film theory and learn to apply these to a selection of important pre- and post-war European and international films. You will look at aspects of film style, genre and national and international contexts.You will consider canonical works from a century of cinema history by filmmakers such as Joseph von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Pedro Almodovar, and examine significant examples of technique and style.
- Reading Texts: Criticism for Comparative Literature
- Tales of the City: Introduction to Thematic Analysis
In this module you will develop an understanding of the early phase of film history between 1895 and the early 1930s. You will look at the invention of motion pictures through to the establishment of sound cinema. You will consider a cross-section of American and European films made during this phase, when film-making was largely national but the absence of the spoken word gave film a truly cosmopolitan dimension, with directors, actors and technical personnel moving freely across national boundaries. You will examine the development of film as art, with its links to the Avant-garde, and cinema as an entertainment industry in which genre (horror and crime films) helped to drive innovation.
- Visual Arts 1: Artists and their Materials
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 French Literature: Critical Skills
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.
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.
- German History and Culture
- 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
- Visualising Cuba
- International Film 2: Readings and Representations
- A Special Theme in the Novel: Transgressions
- Histories of Representation
- Critical and Comparative Approaches
- Visual Arts II: Genre and Movements
- Deviance, Defiance and Disorder in Early Modern Spanish and French Literature
- Gender and Clothing in 20th-Century Literature and Culture
- Approaches to Translation Work
- Socio-Political Issues of Contemporary France in Fiction and Translation
- Writing Romance and Desire
- Cinema in France
- 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
- Postwar Italian Cinema: the Auteur Tradition
- Art and Literature in Renaissance Florence
- Italian Crime Fiction
- Constructing Identity in Contemporary Spanish Film
- 20th-Century Mexican Visual Arts and Film
- Rebels, Revolution & Representation in Latin America
Develop your skills in the close reading and critical analysis of Middle English poetry, focusing on set passages from three important fourteenth century texts: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The module invites you to think about how poets understood the status of Middle English as a literary language, in comparison with Latin and French.
The Lord of the Rings regularly shows up in lists of 'The Best Books of All Time', and Tolkien continues to inspire interest and imitation for all kinds of reasons. You will examine Tolkien’s work from the perspective of his engagement with Old English poetry, a subject which constituted an important part of his scholarly activity. You will look at his three main Old English poems (in the original and in translation) and Tolkien’s two most popular works of fiction, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
In this module you will explore a major literary genre which attracted all the great poets of late medieval England: the dream vision. It considers the use of the genre in the works of Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain-poet, as well as examining the visions in mystical writing. These authors’ treatments of the genre repeatedly ask us to reflect on the relationship of literature to experience, poetic authority and identity, and the development of English as a literary language.
Romance was one of the most popular genres of secular literature in late medieval England. You will begin by looking at the Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes, before going on to consider works by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Sir Thomas Malory. You will examine romances set in the mythical British past, in the classical cities of Troy, Thebes and Athens, and in the more recognisable landscapes of medieval England and France. Attention will be paid throughout this module to the often inventive and unpredictable ways in which medieval romance works to articulate specific historical and cultural anxieties.
An introduction to the literature of the English Renaissance, beginning in the 1590s with erotic narrative poems by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and concluding with John Milton's drama, Samson Agonistes, first published in 1671. Marlowe and Thomas Middleton represent the extraordinarily rich drama of the period, while John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the most famous of the so-called metaphysical poets. A feature of the module is the attention given to situating these works in their historical and cultural contexts.
This module explores in-depth three supreme examples of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and historical drama: Richard III (1592-3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-6), and Macbeth (1606).
The texts covered in this module span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares. Non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study, including news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, and popular ballads.
Charting a progression from Galenic humoral theory to Cartesian dualism, you will consider the representation and significance of corporeality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Reading Renaissance plays and poetry alongside anatomical textbooks, manuals of health, erotica, and philosophical essays, the module seeks to contextualise the period's literary treatment of the body.
This module offers the opportunity to study one very important and characteristic aspect of Milton’s Paradise Lost: his depiction of Eden, the paradise that was lost at the fall. Throughout his account of Paradise, Milton works to make the loss of Paradise poignant by lavishing on it all his evocative powers as a poet. You will spend at least three sessions looking at Milton's epic, covering aspects such as Edenic sex and marriage, Eden’s fauna and flora, and work in Eden. Throughout the module images of Paradise will be given attention, starting with Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delight'. Alongside artworks, you will look at some of the Bible scholarship which tried to locate the site of Paradise, and deduce its fate.
An introduction to English literature from the Norman Conquest to the birth of Chaucer. This period has been described both as a period of political crisis and also as a period of cultural renaissance. It saw the conquest and colonization of England, the rise of new forms of scholarship and spirituality, and, according to some accounts, the development of new ways of thinking about national and individual identity
Between the English Revolution and the French Revolution, British literature was pulled by opposing cultural forces and experienced an extraordinary degree of experimentation. The eighteenth century is sometimes called The Age of Reason, but it is also called The Age of Sensibility. It was dominated by male writers, but also facilitated the rise of the woman novelist and the emergence of coteries of intellectual women. It continued to be an essentially rural nation, but London grew to be the biggest city in the world and industrialisation was beginning to herd workers into towns. This module explores some of the tensions and oppositions which were played out in the literature of this period.
Explore the Victorian concept of the 'sensational' across a range of novels dating from the height of the sensation period in the 1850s and 60s. Together, we will examine some of the magazines in which these novels were originally serialized. Issues such as the role of public spectacle, the first detectives, advertising, domestic crime and the demonic woman will be explored in relation to the cultural and social context of this novelistic genre.
This module is framed by the personal: it begins with Queen Victoria’s private diaries of her happiest days in Scotland, and ends just beyond the Victorian period, with one troubled man’s intensely-felt account of his Victorian childhood. You will look at examples of the novelistic form, including sensation, Romantic, domestic realist and sentimental novels. Some of the works you will study are well-known and truly canonical, while others will be excitingly unfamiliar; all, however, will contribute to a sense of the variety and contradictions inherent in being Victorian.
This module will introduce you to a broad range of literatures from the period 1780 to 1830. The module aims to problematise and scrutinise the idea of Romanticism as a homogenous literary movement and to raise awareness of the range of competing literary identities present in the period.
This module will give you the opportunity to work through some issues associated with short-story and/or novel writing. Classes will alternate seminar discussions of aspects of the craft of writing with workshops in which you will interact critically and creatively with others' work.
Examine a range of novels by gay and lesbian writers in Britain and Ireland which have emerged in the wake of the AIDS catastrophe and queer theory. You will focus on interesting though rather peculiar trends in the post-queer novel: queer historical and biographical fictions, and explore the reasons behind the dominance of these approaches in recent gay and lesbian literature.
With the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as the first woman Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom in 2009, poetry by women became publicly validated as never before. Setting fresh horizons for women’s poetry, Duffy joined Gillian Clarke who has served as National Poet of Wales since 2008; Liz Lochhead was appointed Scots Makar in 2011, and Paula Meehan was appointed in 2013 to the Ireland Chair of Poetry. By careful reading of two collections by each poet, you will assess how each poet has moved from a position of rebellion, liminality or minority into the very heart of the cultural institution.
Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.
Explore British drama staged during the first half of the twentieth century against a backdrop of two world wars. The plays studied place the values of their age under scrutiny, to raise questions about social justice, spiritual choices, class and gender inequalities. Theatrical genres were under just as much pressure as the cultural values they sought to convey; the ten plays studies during the course reflect a range of evolving genres, from the well-made play, the play of ideas, social comedy, to poetic drama.
An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.
This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.
Providing an introduction to the study of literary modernism, a period of intense experimentation in diverse sets of cultural forms. This module deals with issues such as modernist aesthetics; genre; gender and sexuality; the fragment; time and narration; stream-of-consciousness; history, politics and colonialism; technology, and the status of language and the real.
- From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde
- The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction: Dissertation
- Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film: Dissertation
- Humans and Other Animals in Twenty-First Century Fiction and Thought
- Comparative Dissertation
- Visual Arts Dissertation
- Final-Year International Film Dissertation
- Advanced Translating Skills
- 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
- Wanton Women: Artists and Writers of the French Avant-Garde
- Blindness and Vision in French Culture
- Villains and Villainy in Early Modern French Theatre
- French Final Year Dissertation
- Narrative and Identity: The German Novel from the 18th to the 21st Century
- 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
- German Dissertation
- Dante: Divine Comedy 2
- Shooting History: Dictatorship, Terror and Crime in Italian Film
- The Postmodern in Italian Literature: Pioneers, Practitioners and Critics
- Contemporary Mexican Cinema
- Spanish American Literature: An Overview
- Devotion, Deceit, Desire: Literature of the Spanish Golden Age
- Horror Cinema in the Hispanic World
- Spanish Dissertation
The fiction of the last twenty years or so is a gigantic and diverse field. Now global in dimension, the range of novels and writers is simply enormous, and the field is growing at frantic speed. It’s very hard to find out what’s going on, to identify trends and significance. The aim of this module is to offer a sense of some of the larger themes and patterns in contemporary fiction.
Investigate a variety of literature produced about Chicago by writers who lived and worked in the city. Although the module will focus on novels, it will also include some poetry and nonfiction prose. You will develop knowledge of the historical development of Chicago in the 20th century, as seen through its writers, from 'muckrakers' such as Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, through the boosterism of Carl Sandburg, the ‘urban naturalism’ of James T. Farrell, Richard Wright and Nelson Algren, to the later interpretations of Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Stuart Dybek and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Examine the representation of murder in literature and popular culture. You will explore how and why writers from different historical periods and national traditions have created aesthetic works around murder, and how those aesthetic works engage with their historical, social and cultural contexts. You will ask why murder has remained a compelling subject for writers and audiences, and what literatures of murder reveal about, for example: the body, the self and its relationship to others, society and its institutions, moral and social responsibility, and faith or its absence.
A comprehensive study of three of Shakespeare's most difficult and most disturbing plays, collectively known as the ‘problem plays’: Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. You will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the plays, both as individual works of dramatic art and as a group of texts sharing distinctive concerns and techniques.
An advanced introduction to debates about the philosophy of literature. This module is structured around three key questions: the ethics of literature, what literature is presumed to reveal and the relationship between literature and its interpretation.
Brexit is not simply a political or economic event. It is a cultural event too. This module uses the cultural event as a lens to analyse some aspects of contemporary literature and theory, and some aspects of contemporary literature and theory to analyse Brexit. These aspects include theories of nationalism; affect theory; cultural memory; postcolonialism and refugee studies; Literature and Human rights; rhetoric.
This module will introduces you to a number of theorists of tragedy, and a number of significant tragic texts (in dramatic and other idioms) from Classical Greece to the present day. All works not written in English are studied in translation. You will explore a variety of theories of tragedy with specific attention to a range of tragic works in various modes: plays, novels, poetry and film.
Focusing primarily on Joyce’s major work Ulysses while putting it into context with Joyce’s other work, you will have the opportunity of getting to know and getting to enjoy what has been described as ‘the greatest novel of the 20th century’. You will examine it in various contexts, including Joyce’s other writings and the various critical approaches that have found inspiration from Joyce, whether new critical, humanist, post-structuralist, politicizing, feminist, historicizing or textualist responses to his work.
This module explores aspects of nineteenth-century literature, science and culture in some depth and brings well-known works like Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Eliot's Middlemarch and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend into conversation with the evolutionary thought of Charles Darwin, the social investigations of Henry Mayhew and nineteenth-century writings on psychology. You will look at a number of genres, including novels, poetry, journalism, science writing, autobiography, history, art criticism and examine elements of contemporary visual culture.
This module uses The Victorian Serial Novel, a web resource, to re-create the reading experience of Victorians over the period Oct 1846 to March 1847. You will read, in real-time, six works published within this time period, as and when they were published and in the format in which they first appeared.
In this module you will examine a variety of literary responses to the First World War 1914-1918: poetry, prose and other modes, from immediate responses to the war written by combatants on the front line and civilians on the home front, through to postwar reconsiderations of what the war meant to civilisation. You will look at the most famous works of wartime poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, and also examine realist novels, Modernist experimentation, postwar memoirs and Fantasy by both British and Continental writers.
Examine fictional representations of the girl across a range of texts, from Charlotte Brontë's eponymous Jane Eyre through to Antonia White's Catholic schoolgirl, Nanda and Ian McEwan's remorseful Briony Tallis. As well as enabling an exploration of female development and subjectivity, you will also engage with a range of questions relating to sexuality and desire, place and belonging, knowledge and resistance, art and creativity.
In this module you will study a broad range of writing for children from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century.
The end of the various colonial empires in the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of literatures from the newly emergent postcolonial societies. Rather than provide a survey of the field of postcolonial studies, this module aims at engaging the recent debates in postcolonial writing, theory and criticism. You will critically examine a range of postcolonial novels from Britain’s erstwhile empire, paying attention to issues such as the boons and contradictions of writing in the language of the colonial powers, the postcolonial reclamation of the Western canon etc. and focussing on genres such as postcolonial realism, modernism, magic realism, and science fiction. You will pay close attention to novels and their historical legacies of colonialism and resistance.
In this module you will consider two immediate, present-day concerns. The first is currently very much in circulation in English political culture and the media: what is and should be the relationship between England and continental Europe? How involved is and should the first be with the second? How close are they, how distant should they be? The second sounds rather more academic or theoretical, but is also at issue in the wider culture and involves us all. Over the past two decades, many thinkers and writers have announced that we have arrived at 'the end of modernity', and many more have declared that we are'post-modern', that we inhabit a 'postmodern condition'. Yet round about us, all the time, we hear of one kind of enthusiastic 'modernization' or another. What sense can we make of this?
In this module you will consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing and consider writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and criticism. You will look at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers becoming familiar with a range of methodologies for making your own poetic practice.
The Middle Ages are often characterised in the popular imagination as barbarous, incredulous, prudish, and naïve. In this module you will look at the presentation and function of violence, sex, and magic in a range of medieval literature, from the Old English Riddles to Arthurian romance. In so doing, you will consider the sophisticated but sometimes alien worldviews that lie behind them as well as the literary achievements of the works that contain them. You will examine texts from a variety of different genres in both Old and Middle English.
In this module you will address the relationship between literature and the visual arts from c.1760 to the 1890s. You will look at theoretical issues of how the visual and the verbal arts are defined and consider their compatibility through a number of case studies of visual-verbal interactions from the period studied. You will also address the rise of the visual as the dominant cultural form of the Victorian period, tracing the development of illustrated media and new visual technologies including photography and early cinema, and the concomitant rise of the new phenomenon of the art critic - the professional interpreter of images - in the 1890s.
This module focuses on a key moment in mid-20th century art and culture: the period when the New York Schools of poetry, painting and composition emerged in parallel. In the postwar period, the city took over from Paris as the centre of contemporary art. Abstract Expressionism quickly achieved global popularity, establishing the Museum of Modern Art as the world’s leading contemporary art museum. However, other cultural currents also made a great impact on their respective disciplines. The witty, fast-moving work of the New York School Poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler) challenged the authority of High Modernism in the field of poetry. The radical music of John Cage and Morton Feldman posed a similar challenge to established European composers. The leading proponents of these tendencies did not work in isolation from other disciplines. The poets, for example, wrote about art and Cage and Feldman were both inspired, in different ways, by painters such as Rauschenberg and Guston. This module examines all three fields and the relations between them.
The 1930s was a decade of extremes: extreme financial instability (after the Wall Street Crash of 1929) and extreme politics, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. British colonialism was showing fractures; there was a war in mainland Europe (in Spain), and the increasing threat of another World War, which eventually came to pass. Could it be that it closely - all too closely - resembles the decade that we’re living in now – with the rise of nationalisms, extreme ideologies, unstable international relations, following on from a colossal crash in the financial markets? What can we learn about our world by reading fiction from the 1930s?
A chronological study of the novels of Virginia Woolf covering the period 1915-1941. These will be supplemented by selections from Woolf’s criticism and other writings. In addition to demonstrating Woolf’s development as a writer and familiarizing students with a range of key critical ideas relating to her work, you will explore Woolf’s relation to Modernism and realism; questions about language, form and consciousness; sexuality and androgyny; Woolf’s feminism and politics; war and subjectivity; nation, Empire and history; mourning and loss; and the maternal.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the middle Ages. Chaucer describes a group of pilgrims, drawn from all parts of late medieval English society, who enter into a tale-telling competition on their way to Canterbury. Their stories include romances, fabliaux, saints’ lives and beast fables, and address themes of love and sorrow, trickery and deception, fate and free will, satire, tragedy and magic, as well as raising questions about the nature and purposes of storytelling itself. In this module you will read The Canterbury Tales in detail in the original Middle English. You will examine how the tales relate to their literary and cultural contexts, and read them in the light of different schools of modern criticism. You will also have the opportunity to read a range of earlier writers who influenced Chaucer, including Ovid, Boethius, Dante and Boccaccio, and later writers who responded to him, including Lydgate, Hoccleve and Dryden.
In this module you will study the complete career of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), looking at eight novels in their historical and cultural contexts. You will examine Dickens's life and times, and the cultural discourses that shaped his fiction; the serialisation and illustration of his work, and the themes, forms and structures of his writing. You will also consider the richness and specificity of Dickens' actual work.
In this module you will have the opportunity to read in detail and in chronological order the full range of works by Oscar Wilde, from his early poetry to his last letters. Wilde’s work has captured the widest possible public attention since his death in 1900, and his readers and audiences are spread across the globe. His work is intensely literary and profoundly political yet it is popular and fleet-of-foot. And just as his output is exceptionally varied, so too the questions which arise from its study will take students in many directions. Aesthetic poetry, the role of the critic, the construction and betrayal of national and sexual identities, symbolist drama, platonic dialogue, fairy tale, farce, satire, wit: these are some of the topics you will examine.
In this module you will explore the works of American author Herman Melville (1819-1891) in breadth and depth. While Melville’s whaling epic, Moby-Dick (1851) is the lynchpin of the module, you will also have the opportunity to study Melville’s early travel writing, his fictions of social criticism, his short stories, and his poetry. You will consider critical approaches to Melville’s work, situating him in mid-century America – a time of social transformation, economic crisis, tensions over slavery, and increasing calls for a national American culture – as well as looking as his works through the lens of post-colonial theory, gender studies, and queer theory.
Often described as the most difficult and influential poems of the twentieth-century, T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" is undoubtedly one of the key Modernist texts. You will you look at Eliot's 1922 poem, along with a selection of his critical writings, engaging in an intensive reading experience in which you will examine ideas about composition, structure, voice, time, myth and intertextuality.
The twenty-first century has seen an explosion of adaptations of Shakespeare around the globe. These performances often draw attention to new theatre traditions as well as new ways of seeing the world. In this module you will examine the adaptations of three plays, considering the power of Shakespeare’s work to unite communities around particular topics, experiences and ideas.
World-literature critics worry that queer theorists foist a Western, elitist approach to LGBTQ+ identities on to the rest of the world, that is, a Western homonormativity performs a similar role as the unequal distribution of power in a globalised world. Queer theorists, on the other hand, are anxious that queer perspectives get lost in world-literature theory and texts, which tend to, they argue, either privilege a masculine nationalist agenda or not pay enough attention to the effects of globalisation on local articulations of race, gender and sexuality. In this module you will explore this productive tension by paying close attention to variety of texts from around the world.
This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. Each focus draws on an individual staff area of interest and expertise, with the focus changing each term. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.
The dissertation is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and so to deepen your understanding of literature, culture and critical theory.
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure, whereby you will take 14 modules at the rate of four per year in years 1, 2 and 4, and two during your year abroad. Some modules are compulsory while others are optional, thereby offering you flexibility and choice. Your first year results don't count towards your final degree award, but those achieved in your second, third and fourth years will.
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 is essential, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor to support your academic and personal development.
In your first year with the English department, you will also work in small groups of just four or five students focusing on study skills such as close reading, essay writing and presentation and self-editing. As you progress through your degree, these tutorials focus on your own personal development, for instance working on your CV.
Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examinations. Coursework includes long and short essays, language exercises, translations, reports, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. Oral presentations and computer-based tests are used in some Modern Languages modules to assess grammar and comprehension skills. You can, to some extent, choose modules which suit your own assessment preferences.
You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This module does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.
A Levels: AAB-ABB
- A-Level grade B in English Literature or English Literature and Language
- Grade B at A-Level in the appropriate language(s) for the advanced-level language pathway. For the beginner-level language pathway there is no language requirement, but only one language can be studied at beginner-level.
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics.
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.
Other UK Qualifications
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 7.0 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 69 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here. 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
Choosing a joint honours degree which combines modern languages and English gives you the best of both worlds through an increased skillset and access to a wide variety of employment opportunities.
Having spent a year abroad you will 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, whether that be in Britain or abroad.
Modern languages graduates have entered a wide range of careers including international management, consultancy, sales and marketing, media and publishing, banking, the arts, politics, teaching, travel and tourism, translating and interpreting as well as language assistants and teacher trainers.
Recent employers include:
- Mazda Motors Europe
- The British Council
- Oxfam Head Office
- Merlin Entertainments Group
- Ralph Lauren
Taking a degree in English sets you up with great prospects for future employability. On the course itself we place a strong emphasis on your future employability, meaning the skills that you gain won’t just be applicable to the study of English.
Although many of our students go on to further study in literature and other fields, skills such as research, presentation, teamwork, negotiation and communication will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities.
In your second year, you'll meet with your personal tutor group, to work on planning your career beyond university. In the past, graduates from this course have gone on to careers in
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
The fee for your year abroad will be 15% of the tuition fee for that academic year if you study or complete work-based placement as part of the Erasmus exchange programme, or study at a university outside of Europe. The fee will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year if you complete a work-based placement in a non-European country.
International students tuition fee per year**: £16500
The fee for your year abroad will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year.
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.
*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. The UK Government has confirmed that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.
**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.