This interdisciplinary MA is taught on an interdepartmental basis by staff who cover an exceptionally wide range of expertise. The flexible nature of the programme enables students to develop their own interests whilst gaining a thorough understanding of modern literary theory and comparative literature.
Modes and duration
Part-time students will normally take half of their courses in Year 1 and the other half, including the dissertation, in Year 2.
Tuition fees (2019/20)
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.
Fee deposit: All full time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £1,000 for this programme. All part-time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £500.
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
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:
About this degree
Students develop a thorough understanding of modern theories of literature, the contexts of literature and the interaction between literatures, and gain practical experience in comparative literary studies. The programme also develops the critical and analytical skills necessary for research in this field.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. There are two pathways through the programme: taught and research.
Taught: two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits). Research: two core modules (60 credits), one optional module (30 credits), and a dissertation (90 credits).
Core Course: Literature (30 credits: Term 1); Core Course: Literary Theory (30 credits: Term 2)
- Modern Literary Theory
- Comparative Literary Studies
There are three compulsory modules: Comparative Literary Studies (30 credits, Term 1); Modern Literary Theory (30 credits, Term 2); and the Dissertation (60 credits, Terms 3 & 4)
Options may include the following:
- Revolutions in Literature: Writing China's Twentieth Century
- Apocalypse Literature
- Consumer Culture in Literature
- Readings in Twentieth Century Chinese Literature and Culture: Family, Childhood, Gender
- Performance, Visual Media and Popular Culture in Africa
- Theoretical Issues in History and Literature
- Language, Culture and History
- Topics in Cultural Studies
- Translation Studies
- Comparative Medieval Literature
- Literary and Cultural Theory
- All Quiet on the Eastern Front: Culture, Politics, and Everyday Life in Central and Eastern Europe from Stalin to Present
- Literatures of Rupture: Modernism in Russia and Eastern Europe
- Modern Chinese Literature in Translation
- Introduction to Hermeneutics: How to Read and Interpret Texts
The MA in Comparative Literature is highly flexible and courses can be taken in a number of units including, for example, SELCS, SSEES and SOAS.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words (taught pathway) or 18,000 words (research pathway).
Teaching and learning
Teaching and supervision are organised on an interdepartmental basis. Teaching sessions are envisaged as interactive, with a limited amount of lecturing and an emphasis on student participation and critical discussion. Assessment is based on a combination of shorter and longer essays and the dissertation.
All prospective students can apply for the UCL Graduate School Open Scholarships.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Publishing, academic teaching, research and journalism are the most common destinations for graduates with an MA in Comparative Literature but the civil service, teaching or employment as a translator or copywriter are becoming increasingly attractive alternatives.
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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
With its exceptional range of modern and ancient languages and cultures, UCL provides a comprehensive environment for comparative literary study.
Departments housed in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities cover Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Yiddish. The School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) deals with all the major languages, literatures and cultures of Central and Eastern Europe. A co-operation agreement with SOAS, University of London, covers teaching as well as research and ensures global coverage.
Many UCL staff have comparative and interdisciplinary research interests in addition to their subject specialism. We are particularly interested in innovative approaches to literary and cultural studies, and in research with a comparative, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary focus, including research in the following fields: world literature, literary and cultural theory, material and visual cultures, reception studies, themes and genres, cultural history, comparative gender and performance studies, translation studies, diaspora and migration studies, and new media.
What our students and staff say
"UCL has a great library as well as a fantastic location to access the Institute of Classical Studies, the British Library and British Museum, and art galleries, museums and theatres that are hosting the latest classical performances or exhibitions."
Professor Maria Wyke
Professor of Latin
"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
"My research focuses on two main areas: relations between England and Spain in the early modern period (1500–1700), and secondly the Spanish Empire. I aim to change conventional understanding of the Tudor period by demonstrating how Mary Tudor's reign was far from being an anomaly, but in fact saw many developments, cultural, economic and political that laid the foundations for her sister Elizabeth I's celebrated reign. In relation to the Spanish Empire, I hope to offer an account that unites both the Atlantic world and the Americas with colonial adventures in Europe from Holland to Naples, as well as the Far East, from Goa to the Phillippines. I most enjoy the variety of activities that I am involved in, from spending time in the archives bringing to light documents and letters that have lain there for over four centuries to communicating about my research to new audiences whether at Shakespeare's Globe or doing stand up comedy for UCL's Public Engagement Bright Club."
Dr Alexander SamsonEarly Modern Studies MA, Comparative Literature MA, Medieval and Renaissance Studies MA, Hispanic Studies MA
Lecturer in Golden Age Literature
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.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
The programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in a language and literature subject, or in a related subject such as English, History, Cultural Studies or Media studies. A sophisticated understanding of cultural diversity is essential. A reading knowledge of at least one language other than English is normally expected, but not obligatory.
- All applicants
- 26 July 2019
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.
We are also interested in candidates who demonstrate evidence of leadership.