Comparative Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to study literature from across the world, as well as exploring film, philosophy and visual arts. This course 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. Comparative Literature and Culture at Royal Holloway is a unique and intellectually stimulating course that will develop you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker.
We’ve developed this course so that you can tailor it to suit your own evolving interests, enabling you to choose from our exceptionally wide range of fascinating options. These span 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 variety of foreign texts originally written in many languages, all translated into English.
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 with 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.
Studying Comparative Literature and Culture will broaden your horizons, interests and passions, and give you a critical edge in a competitive global marketplace.
- Gain global cultural awareness and an internationally prestigious degree.
- Our teaching methods are diverse, ranging from lectures and small group seminars to e-learning.
- Become a creative, flexible and critical thinker.
- Shape your programme according to your own interests.
- Available as a joint honours degree with a wide variety of subjects.
- Consider a year abroad or studying a language
Core ModulesYear 1
- Reading Texts: Criticism for Comparative Literature
- Tales of the City: Introduction to Thematic Analysis
- Histories of Representation
- Critical and Comparative Approaches
You will also take two from the following:
- 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
You will take two from the following:
- From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde
- The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction
- Transnationalism, Diaspora and Globalisation in Contemporary Film
- Humans and Other Animals in Twenty-First Century Fiction and Thought
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
- Heritage of Dante
- 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
You may also choose to study French, German, Italian or Spanish. All languages we teach have a beginners', post-A Level, and native speaker level pathway.
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
- 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
If you studied a language in Year 1 then you may choose to continue studying that language in Year 2.
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
- 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
You will be taught through a combination of lectures and small seminar groups, where you will be able to try out new ideas by giving presentations and participating in lively discussions in a supportive environment. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle, which provides a variety of supporting materials.
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 take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year. In your final year you will have the opportunity to write a research-led dissertation.
You will also have your own Personal Advisor, a member of academic staff who will help you through your studies and guides you in tailoring your course. 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 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.
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 to take advantage of other work experience opportunities, for example by participating in Royal Holloway’s Community Action volunteering programme or by becoming 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, journalism, arts administration, fashion, international management, the civil service, accountancy or teaching. Alternatively, you may choose to continue your studies.
“Comparative Literature and Culture has helped me develop several key skills, including my analytical skills and my ability to work in a team. I’ve also developed as a person” Hope Dinsey
“I’d recommend Comparative Literature and Culture to anyone who is interested in broadening their horizons and being open to all kinds of literatures, media and cultures – in fact, I’d recommend it to anyone, full stop! The lecturers are truly passionate about their subjects and so knowledgeable, but they’re also approachable and engaging; it’s a pleasure to be taught by them.” Natalie Ford
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
International students tuition fee per year**: £16900
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students who started a degree in the academic year 2018/19, it was £9,250 for that year, shown here for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK undergraduates starting their degree in 2019/20 or 2020/21 has not yet been confirmed. The Government has also confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2019/20 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. The fee status for EU nationals starting their degree in 2020/21 is under consideration.
**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.