Frequently asked questions
What is Comparative Literature?
Comparative Literature is the study of the similarities and differences between literature written in different places and times. Instead of dividing books according to where or in what language they were written, we explore them by theme, genre, or historical period. For example, you might compare 18th century novels written in English, French, and Italian, or you might compare the idea of the nation in 20th century texts from India, and Australia.
Unlike many other programmes, our degree extends beyond the modern literatures of Europe to the Americas, Australia, the Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, and to the roots of Western and Near Eastern literary traditions in classical antiquity and the Bible. We also consider the relationships between literature and other art forms, such as visual art and film.
What degree programmes do you offer?
What literatures will I be able to study?
What is the language requirement?
Our teaching and research expertise encompasses modern European literature, including German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Greek; modern non-European literature, including Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and African literature in English and French; and classical literature and the Bible.
All Comparative Literature modules are taught in English translation, though students are encouraged to read in the original language if they are able to. Students with the relevant language skills can also take modules in Modern Languages at King’s (French, German, Spanish and Portuguese) or in the Classics Department.
What modules can I take?
All BA applicants must be studying for an A-level (or international equivalent) in English and a Modern or Ancient language. More information about entry requirements is available on the Online Prospectus.
During the degree, students on the BA in Comparative Literature must take at least 15 credits (one module) per year in which they use another language. You can also choose to study a new language at the King’s Modern Language Centre to satisfy this requirement, or study to improve your skills in a language you already know.
Students on the BA in Classical Studies and Comparative Literature take 30 credits of Classical language in the first year, and will use their languages in Classics modules in their second and third years.
Students on the BA in Comparative Literature with Film are encouraged to use another language in their studies, but there is no specific credit requirement.
What career options will I have?
In addition to core modules in the theory and practice of comparative literary study, students in the BA and MA programmes in Comparative Literature can choose from a wide range of optional modules in Comparative Literature, Classics, Digital Humanities, English, Film, Greek and Byzantine Studies, and Modern Languages.
Take a look at our lists of undergraduate and postgraduate modules to see what we currently have on offer.
What funding is available?
Why study Comparative Literature at King's and in London?
Our graduates go on to careers in journalism, teaching, marketing, arts publicity, publishing, film and television, and more. Many of our students also go on to postgraduate study. Our students acquire a wide range of critical skills and are able to think across national, linguistic, and cultural boundaries in innovative, rigorous and productive ways, making them particularly well suited for today’s increasingly globalised world.
You can find out more about graduate destinations on our employability page.
Where can I find out more about Comparative Literature?
King's is recognised worldwide for the quality of its Arts and Humanities research and teaching. The College is consistently ranked among the world’s top 30 universities (QS World University rankings). The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is among the top faculties in the UK (QS World University rankings), and it has one of the largest cohorts of research students in the arts and humanities in the country.
London is a global, multilingual, and multicultural city, which makes it particularly well suited to the study of Comparative Literature. Students are able to draw on a wealth of cultural and archival resources, including the British Library, the British Museum, the National Theatre, and the British Film Institute, all of which are on our doorstep here at King’s. You can find out more about the School's collaborative links with many of London's foremost cultural institutions on our collaborations and partnerships page.
Comparative Literature is at an exciting moment in its history as a discipline. If you would like to get an idea of what Comparative Literature is like, and of its more recent developments, the following books, articles and journals are well worth reading:
- Susan Bassnett, Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction (1993)
- David Damrosch, What is World Literature? (2003)
- Gerald Gillespie, By Way of Comparison: Reflections on the Theory and Practice of Comparative Literature (2004)
- Franco Moretti, ‘Conjectures on world literature’, New Left Review 1(Jan-Feb 2000) pp. 54-68
- Haun Saussy ed., Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (2006)
- Robert Weninger ed. Comparative Literature at a Crossroads? Comparative Critical Studies 3, 1-2 (2006)