Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Comparative Literature

This degree offers you an opportunity to engage critically with the study of comparative literature. The primary focus is on English-, French-, German-, Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking cultures, and while we welcome students able to work in these and other languages, you may work exclusively through the medium of English. Students with a particular interest in French or German culture and/or with high-level French or German language skills are encouraged to apply, as it is possible to take a French or German pathway through the programme. You will have the opportunity to develop your understanding of key critical concepts associated with the comparative study of literature and cultures, such as literary history and the canon, genre, theme, influence, intertextuality and translation across genres and media. You will gain practical experience of working with these concepts in your reading of texts. You will also be given a grounding in 20th- and 21st-century literary theory, exploring its development in a cross-cultural context and investigating how it can change the way we read texts and the cultures that produced them.

Entry requirements

Good 1st degree, or equivalent, in a humanities subject. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course modules

You take 2 10-week core modules. In each session of reading across cultures, we take 2 or more texts from different cultures as our starting point and read them in relation to one another, focusing on a particular critical method and/or theoretical approach appropriate to the comparative study of literature; understanding theory familiarises you with a variety of theoretical perspectives, allowing you to explore theoretical and literary-critical concepts, and enables you to work with them in your analysis of texts. Option modules give you the opportunity to engage with specific aspects of comparative literature in more depth and/or to explore comparative literature in the context of a variety of different historical, philosophical or cultural frameworks. You also take a 10-week research skills module and undertake a 15,000-word dissertation.

Sponsorship information

The School of Arts offers a small number of bursaries. Part-time students in their second year who are experiencing hardship may apply to the College for financial assistance.


Qualification Study mode Fee Course duration
MA Full-time £ 5,375 per Academic year (home fees) 1 years
MA Full-time £ 11,500 per Academic year (overseas fees) 1 years
MA Full-time £ 5,375 per Academic year (EU fees) 1 years
MA Part-time evening £ 2,975 per Academic year (home fees) 2 years
MA Part-time evening £ 5,750 per Academic year (overseas fees) 2 years
MA Part-time evening £ 2,975 per Academic year (EU fees) 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus Bloomsbury WC1E 7HX South East

Key information

Department of European Cultures and Languages
Telephone number: 
020 3073 8381