Choosing this course enables you to combine the study of Comparative Literature and Culture (75% of the course) with History of Art and Visual Culture (25%).
Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC) offers you the opportunity to study global literature as well as to explore film, philosophy and visual arts. CLC combines a fascinating breadth of material with a focus on contexts – places, periods, and genres – to explore how key cultural shifts transform how we see, represent, and make sense of our changing world. CLC at Royal Holloway is a unique and intellectually stimulating degree which will develop you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker.
We’ve developed this degree so that you can tailor it to suit your own evolving interests, choosing from our exceptionally wide range of fascinating options, ranging across continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, novels and poetry to philosophy, cinema and art. We will read, watch, and compare from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York, from Cuba to Korea, from epics to crime fiction, and from tragedy to the avant-garde. CLC enables you to study texts originally written in many languages, all translated into English.
History of Art and Visual Culture enables you to explore a rich variety of visual cultures - from paintings to sculpture, photography to film, fashion and beyond - from the early modern era to the present day. Exploring artworks from across the world, you will develop the skills to appreciate, interpret and analyse images and artefacts across cultures. You will benefit from the specialist research, curatorial experience and practice of staff in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and they will guide you as you learn to assess the expressive and stylistic possibilities offered by different media in core modules and a wide range of options which explore key developments in art and cinema.
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
- Make use of Royal Holloway’s exceptional collection of Victorian Art housed in the Founder’s Picture Gallery
- Choose options in Visual Culture from across the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Core ModulesYear 1
This module introduces students to the theories and practices of textual analysis and comparative textual analysis as well as to the major debates about theories and practices of comparative literature in a transnational context. Students will read a small number of core literary texts - influential within comparatism and diverse in cultural, temporal and linguistic origin - alongside a range of historically, geographically, culturally, generically and stylistically varied textual extracts. The core literary texts will be read in their entirety, with particular attention to: the construction and interpretation of genre; transnationalism and translation; cultural and historical context; and questions of authorship, influence and canonicity.
This module introduces students to a range of literary and filmic texts depicting different aspects of the city. The focus on a common thematic ground allows students to develop skills of comparison and analysis, while also exposing them to, and encouraging them to reflect on, wider questions of urban space, public and private spheres, and alterity. The works to be studied on the city explicitly engage with three periods and aspects of the modern city: early twentieth-century modernity, urban development and planning, modernist architecture; post-war industrialisation and urbanisation; and the contemporary transnational metropolis and multiculturalism. In all the periods, the focus will be on how the films articulate the following themes: money/poverty, technology, migration, crime, gender and sexuality.
This module will introduce students to a number of different media encountered in the study of visual culture. By understanding the technical characteristics of a range of art works students will be able to assess the expressive and stylistic possibilities of offered by different media. Students will study a rich variety of visual cultures in Europe and Latin America from the Middle Ages to the present day. Mediaeval illuminated manuscripts, mural decorations in Renaissance Italy, sculpture, photography and fashion and textiles will be among the media that will be the object of our analysis this year.
Comparing short stories from different periods and geographical areas is a great way of exploring how literature evolves structurally and thematically in response to different ideas and contexts. In this module we read short stories – and look at examples of visual art - from the eighteenth century to the present day to discover what structural and symbolic elements characterize major movements of Western art including the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism and Postmodernism. All non-English-language texts are in English translation. These are explored both individually and in comparison, developing skills in close reading and comparative critical analysis and the ability to recognize and contrast different features of fiction and to situate evolving literary aesthetics in their historical context.
This module provides an account of some of the major theoretical trends and currents which inform our thinking and practice of Comparative Literature and Culture. Reading canonical and contemporary texts alongside each other, students will ask questions such as: How should we understand and respond to art in the twenty-first century? Who counts as a subject and how should we understand racial, sexual and species difference? And, how should we conceptualise culture in a globalised world?
This module will focus on six novels dealing with the theme of transgression. It will also look at the genre of the novel and at whether the novels studied transgress its formal parameters. The module will be comparative in focus, studying the set texts not only individually, but also looking at thematic and formal convergences and divergences between them. The books to be studied will be: DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover; Alain Robbe-Grillet, La Jalousie/Jealousy; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Esther Tusquets, Stranded; Emile Zola, Thérèse Raquin; Juan Rulfo, ‘Talpa’.
This module involves an examination of gender as it is expressed, maintained, or challenged by clothing. It investigates a variety of Anglophone, Francophone, and German-language twentieth-century texts, including novels, fine art, and film, in which clothing and gender are closely linked. The module introduces a range of experimental and challenging texts, encouraging critical and comparative thinking about the place of fashion and clothing in culture and society.
This module introduces students to a range of important texts and authors, both canonical and non-canonical, from early modern Spain and France. Yet it does so through a selection of outsider figures – characters whose aberrant or idiosyncratic identity, outlook, or behaviour sets them at odds with their society. The characters on this module thus challenge some of society’s most deeply entrenched but often unwritten codes – of reason, gender, decorum, sexuality, class, and religion – and can thus offer important insights into the workings and values of the society whose norms they transgress. As we shall see, though, the treatment of such figures can vary widely. Whereas the outsider’s departure from the norm is often apparently ridiculed or censured, it can sometimes be celebrated or rehabilitated – whether by other characters within the fiction or by the literary work itself. Indeed, the period’s fascination with marginal or transgressive characters and behaviour betrays throughout a deep unease about the validity of its own norms and standards.
- Visual Arts II: Genre and Movements
The module is divided into two parts, the first exploring crucial issues of filmmaking, film studies and the ‘transnational’ from the perspective of largely contemporary Latin American cinema, the second focusing on a range of European films from the 1970s to the present. The introductory two weeks of the module will introduce students to these concerns; the final two weeks of the module will bring both parts together and establish some conclusions (for example, what, if anything, constitutes a ‘European’ or ‘Latin American’ or ‘transnational’ film).
- Visual Arts Dissertation
- Humans and Other Animals in Twenty-First Century Fiction and Thought
This module engages critically with theories of World Literature to examine how literary texts are translated, transmitted, and circulated, and how they conceptualise ‘the world’ from multiple perspectives and subject positions. Moving between the Iberian Peninsula, England, Latin America, and the Middle East, it encompasses textual production in a variety of languages (including Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Quechua), to be studied through English translations, thus decentring traditional euro-centric approaches to the study of ‘Hispanic’ literature.
- From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde
- The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction
- Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film
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
This module examines images of French society through a selection of key literary texts and concentrates on how questions of social change, social mobility, success and failure, ambition and honour, oppression and alienation have been portrayed. Delivered by the appropriate specialist in the School of Modern Languages, the classes will offer a taste of the literature of the relevant periods, along with a discussion of its distinguishing stylistic features, and an overview of its intellectual, social, and historical background. Terms that often confuse or put off students new to literature (such as Romanticism, Realism, or Existentialism) will be explained and briefly contextualised. By the end of the module, students will have acquired an insight into a range of representative texts from a variety of periods and an understanding of the ideas and social structures they portray.
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 has always played an important role in society, as a source of enjoyment and pleasure, and also as a means of communicating values, celebrating beauty, shaping thought and challenging assumptions. This module aims to develop understanding of the ways the visual image functions and the concepts and techniques needed to analyse it.
This module will introduce students to key areas of interest in contemporary German Studies, including literature, film, and history.
The module presents key developments in German history through the lens of literature and the visual arts, in a lively and accessible way. Students will gain an insight into German culture and history from the Middle Ages to the present, and acquire skills and knowledge that will serve them throughout their degree. Works by numerous writers and artists will feature.
The first term begins with an introduction to themes and ideas in the literature of the Middle Ages – autobiography, love, writers and readers – to provide a firm basis for the study of the three great writers of the Italian Middle Ages. The module then continues with a brief introduction to Dante’s writings, and a close, detailed reading of his earliest work, the Vita Nuova in which he tells the story of his love for Beatrice. In the second term the module covers a selection of the stories from Boccaccio’s most famous work, the Decameron, and a selection of the poems Petrarch wrote for his lady, Laura, which later inspired lyric poetry all over Europe. Visual and dramatic interpretations of the work of these three authors will also be included in the module.
Students will learn about the causes and consequence of the Fascist rule in Italy between 1922 and 1945, and study the political and cultural developments of the period. Topics include: ideas of Fascism, Futurism and Fascism, the Cult of Mussolini, and popular culture.
- Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage
Students on this module will be introduced to some of the most important literary, visual and cinematic works from twentieth century Latin America. The works from selected writers pertaining to the Latin American Literary Boom will feature on this module, as well as some of the Nobel Prize winning poets from Latin America. Students on this module will be provided with samples of the artistic wealth (both in styles and techniques) from artists across the Latin American continent. Attention will be paid to the question of identity as reflected in the cinemas of Cuba and Mexico; two of the most important film industries from Spanish speaking America.
The module provides a selective but wide-ranging introduction to culture in the Hispanic world from the 15th to the 21st century. It explores a broad range of cultural manifestations from different socio-historical contexts both independently and comparatively from a topic-based perspective. Materials may include plays, narratives, poems, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions and architectural works, while topics may be drawn from (but not be limited to) the following: ‘Discovery’, ‘Destruction’, ‘Subversion’, ‘Self-fashioning’, ‘Power’ and ‘the Body’.
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.
The purpose of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the early phase of film history. Broadly speaking, the module will be concerned with the period between 1895 and the early 1930s, from the invention of motion pictures to the establishment of sound cinema. During this phase, 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. Nonetheless distinctive national film cultures emerged, with Italy specialising in dramas set in the ancient world, France making ample use of theatre and popular literature, Germany developing the new medium within broader artistic phenomena such as Expressionism, the Soviets pioneering political montage, and, of module, Hollywood, and its studio system, popularising stars and genres across the world.
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.
This module develops your command of both French-English translation and critical analysis of French-language material by exposing you to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles. In weekly seminars, you will focus closely on the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of French-language text types.
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.
The module develops students' command of both German-English translation and critical analysis of German-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles. In weekly seminars, students will focus closely on the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of German-language text types.
- Intensive Italian for Beginners
- Advanced Italian I
The module develops students' command of both Italian-English translation and critical analysis of Italian-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.
- Intensive Spanish I
- Spanish 1
The module develops students' command of both Spanish-English translation and critical analysis of Spanish-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.
This module will focus on four texts dealing with love and desire taken from French literature; these will be studied in the light of their common themes and will be used to explore issues around the representation and understanding of passion and romance in the literary text.
This year-long module examines key examples of French cinema from its beginnings to the present day, focusing on the avant-garde and surrealist films of the 1920s, social realist films of the 1930s, the New Wave which began in the late 1950s, and its ‘postmodern’ legacy in the 1980s followed by a return to realism in the new millennium. The module entails close, critical analysis of film style, though no prior knowledge of film theory is required.
This module introduces students of German and CLC to two key figures in twentieth-century German literature, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. Through an examination of the work of these writers, it explores such issues as the individual vs society, the role of the artist, and the nature of desire. Mann’s work evinces a fascination with disorder and decadence even as it remains bound to bourgeois ideals of respectability and sobriety. In Kafka’s work, the everyday world of bureaucracy and officialdom is invaded by fantastical and bizarre elements. The module focuses on the unsettling and disruptive elements of these writers’ works, asking what they tell us about life in the twentieth century.
- Love and Marriage in Major Novels by Theodor Fontane
Childhood and youth - the formative periods in our lives - are obviously crucial for individuals, society and culture. They are also contested and controversial concepts. Children and adolescents have long been the subject of social, familial and educational pressures against which they have often rebelled in an attempt to assert their individuality and develop their own identities. This module introduces you to a range of literary and cinematic responses to the lives of children and young people in the context of the German speaking countries from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing on a range of classic and recent texts and films, it explores the historical contexts of the theme and considers the social, political and ethical issues involved in the representation of young people and of institutions such as the school and the military.
- Postwar Italian Cinema: the Auteur Tradition
Florence in the 15th century was one of the most vibrant and innovative artistic and cultural centres in Italy and Europe. The cultural, philosophical and artistic life of Renaissance Florence is the focus of this module which combines the analysis of Renaissance painting, mural decoration and sculpture with that of writings on art from the time. We look in detail at a number of works of world famous Italian Renaissance artists such a Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. We also take a close look at texts discussing the role of the arts and artists, and the comparison between the arts by theorists such as Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Giorgio Vasari.
The module will introduce you to the birth and development of Italian crime fiction and analyse the way in which this foreign imported genre was reshaped and appropriated by successive generations of Italian postwar writers. The module aims at familiarising you with the theory—both foreign and Italian—of crime fiction. It also focuses on the way in which the most pressing issues that dominated Italian society in the postwar period were represented by crime writers.
In this module students will study films from the last twenty years in Spain. The films selected will in different ways express representations of identity in Spain. We will explore issues such as national and regional identities, linguistic diversity and national identity, Spanishness, cultural memory, history on screen, urban versus rural experience, cultural diversity, immigration and the portrayal of gender within new family paradigms.
During the module attention will be devoted to analysing samples from early Twentieth century Mexican visual arts. Students will study the Mexican Mural Movement and will analyse the work of its most prominent members. Attention will be paid to the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. The first part of this module will also cover the photographic works of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tina Modotti, Mariana Yampolski, Araceli Herrera and Graciela Iturbide. During the second part of this module students will be introduced to some of the most significant cinematic works from Mexico’s century of filmmaking. Students will analyse some of the most important filmic genres from a wide range of directors and periods in Mexican cinematic history. On this module students will be introduced to some areas of film theory and will learn how to apply theoretical concepts to a reading of Mexican visual arts and films.
On this module students will examine the ways in which critical historical moments in Latin America have been represented visually in a global context. We will explore how political unrest in Latin America has been memorialised by both filmmakers and photographers, with the aim of re-thinking how global imaginaries concerning the rebel and revolution have been constructed in film and photography.
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 written French, the module builds on techniques acquired in first-year language modules through a particular focus on techniques of analysis, writing and rewriting, in particular on learning to construct arguments and exposés in authentic, accurate and appropriate French. Themes studied help as preparation for the year abroad (themes may vary, examples include : Le travail en France, être jeune en France, la contestation sociale).
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.
This module is designed to follow on from and to build on the knowledge and skills established in the first year. It will establish, through intensive practice and through the use of a range of learning materials, more advanced comprehension skills in written and spoken German. The emphasis throughout will be on everyday language and day-to-day situations.
- German Language II
The module enhances understanding of and skills in translation from German to English through sustained translation practice as well as through commentary on and discussion of translations. In weekly seminars, students will discuss the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific problems generated in the module of translating from German source text to English target text in a range of translation scenarios and a range of text types.
- 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
- 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
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at 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
On completion of your Comparative Literature and Culture with History of Art and Visual Culture degree at Royal Holloway you will have proven analytical skills and be an adaptable thinker with impressive communication and leadership skills - all of which will appeal to future employers. Your degree will demonstrate that you understand other values and cultures, a quality that will equip you to operate successfully in a fast-changing and increasingly globalised and multi-cultural environment.
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.
- Recent graduates have launched careers in diverse roles as film, content writing, photographic editorial, journalism, sales and marketing, teaching, publishing and retail buying.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,700
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.
For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. At Royal Holloway, we are currently reviewing the implications of this announcement for our applicants and will provide further information on the fee you can expect to pay shortly.
**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. Fees shown above are for 2020/21 and are displayed for indicative purposes only.
***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.