UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


Literary London

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session 1
Module leader
Dr Juliette Atkinson
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
10-minute presentation (25%), 2,500-word essay (75%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
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Module overview

This module offers a literary journey through the streets of London, beginning in the 18th century with Jonathan Swift and John Gay, and ending in contemporary London, with Zadie Smith.

Students will inhabit the pages of some of literature’s greatest poems, short stories, novels and paintings about London; and will walk the streets of London, visiting some of the great landmarks and museums, whilst also uncovering many of the dark secrets lurking in the shadows. It is in the crowds, crime and grime of late-19th and early-20th century London literature, students will linger longest, looking in detail at the London of: Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens); The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde); The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson); Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle); and From Hell (Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore).

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be confident and able to discuss, close read and write about poetry, short stories, novels and art
  • Have produced and delivered oral presentations on an aspect of the course that has particularly engaged them
  • Have a strong sense of how London as a European city has grown, developed and changed over the last 300 years
  • Have visited and physically experienced London in a way that is informed by this growing awareness of the past and the constantly shifting permutations of life in the metropolis
  • Be aware of how literature and particular literary forms have developed in order to relate these shifts in urban experience more effectively.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • Each student will give a 10-minute presentation, either individually or as part of a group, on an aspect of the course that has engaged them most (25%)
  • 2,500-word essay (75%)

Module leader

Dr Juliette Atkinson is a lecturer in the English department at UCL. Her research interests lie in the literature of the long nineteenth-century, and in particular Anglo-French relations, life-writing, and book history. Her publications include Victorian Biography Reconsidered (2010, OUP), French Novels and the Victorians (2017, OUP), and editions of The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner for Oxford World’s Classics.

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