This Joint Honours course enables you to study Comparative Literature and Culture and Philosophy in equal parts. It willl provide you with the opportunity to combine the study of global literature, film and art, with philosophy, 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.
At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.
With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.
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.
Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more
- Compare texts and philosophies from the ancient to the contemporary.
- Tailor your studies to your own interests.
- All Comparative Literature and Culture texts are translated into English.
- Combine both subjects in the study of world philosophies.
- Examine how diff erent philosophical traditions intersect.
Core ModulesYear 1
- Reading Texts: Criticism for Comparative Literature
- Tales of the City: Introduction to Thematic Analysis
- Introduction to Modern Philosophy
In this module you will develop an understanding of how the ‘new philosophy’ of the seventeenth century set the modern philosophical agenda. You will look at the work of some of the most ground breaking philosophers of the period, such René Descartes and John Locke, and consider how later philosophers such as Gottfried Leibniz and David Hume took up and expanded their ideas. You will consider the fundamental questions which became central to the European Enlightenment, including those concerning knowledge and understanding and the relation between science and other human endeavours.
In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.
You will also take one of the following:
In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.
- Histories of Representation
- Critical and Comparative Approaches
In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.
- International Film 2: Readings and Representations
- A Special Theme in the Novel: Transgressions
- Visual Arts II: Genre and Movements
- Gender and Clothing in 20th-Century Literature and Culture
- Deviance, Defiance and Disorder in Early Modern Spanish and French Literature
- 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
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules 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
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.
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
- 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
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.
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
- 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
- Practical Ethics
- Modern French Philosophy
- Major Thinker
- Introduction to European Philosophy 2: The Critique of Idealism
- Philosophy of Language
In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.
- Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy I
- 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 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
- 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
- Devotion, Deceit, Desire: Literature of the Spanish Golden Age
- Horror Cinema in the Hispanic World
You will demonstrate your skills as an independent learner by embarking upon a substantial piece of written work of between 8,000 and 10,000 words in length. You will be guided by a dissertation supervisor, but will choose your own topic, approach, and philosophical sources.
- Practical Ethics
- Modern French Philosophy
- Major Thinker
- Philosophy of Language
- Modern European Philosophy 1: Husserl to Heidegger
- Modern European Philosophy 2: Critical Theory and Hermeneutics
- Radical Political Theory
- The Politics of Toleration
- Social Justice: From Theory to Practice
- Theories of Freedom and Democracy
- Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice.
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. You will be expected to prepare material for lectures and seminars; you will also be able to try out new ideas by giving presentations and participating in lively discussions in a supportive environment. What is more, in your final year you will have the opportunity to write a research-led dissertation.
You will also have your own Personal Advisor, an academic who helps you through your studies and guides you in tailoring your course. And when you arrive at Royal Holloway, you will take specially designed courses to help you develop the academic and writing skills that will benefit your university career and beyond.
A Levels: ABB-BBB
- 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 and Ireland 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: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- 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, you may progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
As a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker, graduating from Royal Holloway will help you stand out in a crowded global marketplace.
Students of Comparative Literature and Culture are attractive to employers because they think quickly and flexibly, communicate effectively, have a rich cultural and transnational awareness and the ability to analyse closely and range broadly.
Choosing to add philosophy into your studies at Royal Holloway not only prepares you well for postgraduate study it also equips you with the skills and qualities that employers are looking for. Philosophy degrees are well-regarded by employers because they give you the capacity to think through issues and problems in a logical and consistent way and to develop critical and transferable skills which can be applied in almost any area of employment.
By the time you graduate, you will have:
- developed your critical and analytical thinking and expression
- learned to analyse, evaluate and process effectively many different kinds of information
- honed impressive written and oral communication skills
- enhanced your ability to solve problems in sophisticated and flexible ways
- developed independent research skills
- acquired teamwork and leadership skills that are highly valued by prospective employers
- gained a critical appreciation of cultural life and cultural diversity
We work closely with Royal Holloway’s Careers and Employability Service to provide tailored events which get you thinking about life after you graduate. These range from one-to-one advice from our subject consultant, to a variety of talks and industry-themed careers weeks.
Our highly-successful micro-placement scheme will help you to fine-tune your job-seeking skills and boost your careers by enabling you in your second year to compete for a prestigious two-week internship, offering you the chance to gain invaluable experience and network with prospective employers.
You may also like take advantage of other work experience opportunities, for example by participating in Royal Holloway’s Community Action volunteering programme or by becomign a Student Ambassador. Your Personal Advisor will be on hand to support you as you decide on your career path.
On graduation you will be ready to pursue a career in a wide range of areas including publishing, marketing, the media, arts administration, fashion, international management, the civil service, accountancy or teaching. Alternatively you may choose to continue your studies by means of a postgraduate degree.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,300
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, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2020/21, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The Government has also confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2020/21 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course.
**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.