UCL is a global leader in the thriving field of comparative literature, building on the great strength of its well-established language-specific literary and cultural degrees. With its exceptional range of modern and ancient languages, UCL provides an ideal environment for comparative inquiry. We actively support interdisciplinary research across languages and cultural periods, and welcome comparative projects that may benefit from joint supervisory support.
Modes and duration
The PhD requires a minimum of three years' full-time study (minimum four years' part-time). The MPhil normally requiring two years' full-time (four years' part-time)
Tuition fees (2021/22)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Advanced
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
Research students can specialise in any aspect of comparative literature for which suitable supervision is available. Potential supervisors’ disciplinary perspectives are drawn from language departments including the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, Greek & Latin, Anthropology, Geography, literary studies and queer studies and across UCL.
We invite proposals with a comparative, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary focus, including comparative studies of themes, genres, and periods, and research in the following fields: world literature, literary and cultural theory; material and visual cultures; reception studies; cultural history; comparative gender studies and performance studies; diasporas and migration studies; new media.
About this degree
Students are normally required to make a presentation on their plans to the departmental staff in the summer of their first year. All UCL research students have to submit a substantial report and defend their research plans in an Upgrade Exam in order to transfer from MPhil to PhD registration status, normally within 9 to 18 months of first enrolment.
The maximum length of the PhD thesis is 100,000 words. The ideal length of a PhD thesis in Comparative Literature is 80,000 words.
Depending on staff availability, there is provision for a small number of students to pursue the Documentary Track pathway, which allows suitably qualified PhD students to submit a thesis of 60,000-70,000 words and a within-copyright filmed documentary of 20-30 minutes in length in place of the standard requirement of a thesis of 80,000-100,000 words in length.
The documentary-track PhD is researched in a twofold manner as a text and a film project and developed in two parallel but interdependent modes of discourse. Thus the two projects are intended to overlap closely such that the documentary is part of the integrated whole of the argument of the thesis. An example of a research project which might be pursued using this methodology would be the study (in the form of an academic thesis) of the works of a living author or artist or film director along with a creative, research-led documentary film on the same individual’s work. It is expected that the two parts of the research project will form a composite whole. It will also be necessary for the candidate to provide a statement explaining the research question and aims addressed by the documentary film including written production notes, and a discussion of the stages of research and choice of methodology.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
There is no compulsory placement in this programme, but we encourage students to apply to the Yale-UCL exchange programme that offers students to pursue their Comparative Literature studies for one term at the University of Yale.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Depending on eligibilty students can apply for a fully funded LAHP studentship. For information about available funding and scholarships please visit our Funding and Scholarships webpage.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
PhD students may go on to academic careers or careers in research, in publishing or in creative writing.
Skills acquired as a result of taking this programme include: ability to conduct research in library archives and electronic archives; ability to synthesise and summarise large amounts of information; abliity to use evidence in order to construct a convincing argument; ability to work with texts in more than one language; acquisition of sensitivity to the cultural register of texts; ability to plan workloads efficiently and meet deadlines.
There are many opportunities for networking whilst undertaking this programme, namely in areas within membership of cultural institutions like the British Museum. There are also research organisations such as the British Library and cultural organisations, Cervantes Institute, and there are research hubs at UCL (IAS or the SAS) all available for great networking opporunities.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The Comparative Literature programme draws on the collective expertise of specialists in the Faculties of Arts & Humanities, Social & Historical Sciences, the Institute of Education, the School of Slavonic & East European Studies (SSEES). This includes the study of Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian and Yiddish. A co-operation agreement with the nearby School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) ensures global coverage.
We are especially interested in creative critical research and in proposals that articulate and examine new developments in literary and cultural studies, in the English-speaking world and beyond.
Training programmes are designed on an individual basis by the student's supervisor, and generally involve participation in activities offered by the department of the primary supervisor. Students also take advantage of training provided by the UCL Doctoral School and our departmental research student seminars.
What our students and staff say
"I am interested in the novel, narrative technique, literary theory and theories of gender. I have worked on the interaction of fact and fiction in the novel, on the relationship of female and national identity, and on the representation and ethics of shame. I’m currently working on an interdisciplinary project with German historians looking at the reverberations of the Second World War in Europe. I have benefited particularly from being in a department (German) that is in itself interdisciplinary, as well as from the growing interactions between colleagues within and across the faculties. These interactions are becoming more possible, not least through the establishment of the Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry (CMII), of which I am currently Chair, but, crucially, the impact of the Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (FIGS), now extended to two faculties, Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences. "
Professor Stephanie BirdGerman MPhil/PhD, Comparative Literature MPhil/PhD, Film Studies MPhil/PhD, Language, Culture and History MA, Comparative Literature MA, Film Studies MA
Professor of German
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
All applicants must identify and contact potential supervisors before making their application. For more information see our 'Need to Know' page.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Comparative Literature at graduate level
- why you want to study Comparative Literature at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to this programme
- how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
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