UCL Summer School


Literary London

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session One
Module leader
Alistair Robinson, Alex Grafen
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation (25%), Essay (75%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
Literary London

Module overview

This module introduces students to the life and literature of London from the eighteenth century to the present day, from Jonathan Swift to Zadie Smith. As we read some of London’s greatest poems, short stories and novels, we will walk the streets of London, visiting some of the great landmarks and museums, as well as looking into its lesser-known histories.

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.


  • 10-minute presentation (25%)
  • 2,500-word essay (75%)

Module leader

Dr Alistair Robinson is a Postdoctoral Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge, a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD from University College London. His work has been published in the Journal of Victorian Culture and the Review of English Studies.

Alex Grafen teaches Narrative Texts on UCL’s BA English. His research looks at the Whitechapel Boys, a loose collection of artists and poets from the Jewish East End active in the early twentieth century. He is also one of the organisers of the Literary London Reading Group.

Application information

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