Enabling you to study literature and culture across linguistic and national boundaries, this degree offers you the opportunity to read a generous range of works within a comparative context.
Why study BA English & Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths?
- You'll develop an understanding of the depth and breadth of literature, and will be able to practise the skills needed for a confident and effective reading of literary and non-literary texts
- The degree is flexible, allowing you to specialise in the areas that interest you, whether they lie in American, British, European, Caribbean or other postcolonial literatures, historical periods, or literary themes and genres
- Our staff come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, so they're ideally placed to offer their insights as you develop these interests
- The Department is large enough to provide a wide range of modules, but small enough to let you get to know other students and staff
- We host a programme of guest lectures that has included major names in literature, including Alan Bennett, Germaine Greer, and Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Derek Walcott
- Our graduates have a good employment record, and have gone on to work in publishing, journalism, PR, teaching, advertising, and the media
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Carole Sweeney
Modules & structure
What you study
Over the course of the degree you'll:
- read, discuss, and attend lectures on selected works spanning literary culture from Homer to the present day
- be introduced to the study of themes, genres and movements across national literatures, and the relationship between literature and other disciplines
- develop a grounding in the methods and terms used in the analysis of texts
- have the opportunity to familiarise yourself with the short story genre
- look at comparative literature and the arts during three major periods, and examine cross-national influences and affinities in a variety of genres and media
- complete a dissertation on an approved topic
You'll also be able to choose specialised option modules from the wide range available within the Department.
You take four compulsory modules (120 credits) which will introduce you to the key areas, problems, and concepts of their respective disciplines.
|Explorations in Literature||30 credits|
|Approaches to Text||30 credits|
|Literature of the Victorian Period||30 credits|
|Introduction to Comparative Literature||30 credits|
The modules at Level 5 offer a wide range of optional elements and they are designed to allow you to start to specialise in areas of your interest. At the same time, they are characterised by literary-historical and contextual range.
There is one compulsory module worth 30 credits, which must be passed for the degree to be awarded:
Studies in Comparative Literature
You will look at literature and the arts during three major periods of European cultural history, seen as exemplary of a process of circulation, diffusion and adoption of new ideas and styles. Cross-national influences are investigated across a broad range of works and assimilation is observed through translation and imitation in a veriety of genres and media. The three major periods to be covered are the Renaissance, Romanticism and the Fin de Siècle.
You are then able to choose modules worth a total of 90 credits from an approved list. At least one of these modules must be chosen from those designated by the Department as encompassing pre-1800 literature.
The overall list may change from year to year but recent examples have included:
|Level 5||Module title||Credits|
|Drama and Transgression: From Prometheus to Faust||30 credits|
|European Cinema||30 credits|
|Hollywood Cinema||30 credits|
|Inventing the Nation: American Literature in the mid-19th Century||30 credits|
|Literary London||30 credits|
|Literature of the English Renaissance||30 credits|
|Literature of the Later Middle Ages: Society and the Individual||30 credits|
|Old English||30 credits|
|Post-Victorian English Literature||30 credits|
|Restoration and 18th-Century Literature||30 credits|
|Sensibility and Romanticism: Revolutions in Writing and Society||30 credits|
|Varieties of English||30 credits|
You complete a compulsory dissertation (30 credits) of 6,000-8,000 words.
You also take modules worth a total of 90 credits. The modules on offer may vary from year to year, but recent examples have included:
|Caribbean Women Writers||30 credits|
|Creating the Text||30 credits|
|The Emergence of Modern America: American Literature 1890–1940||30 credits|
|Approaches to Language and the Media||15 credits|
|Modern American Fiction||30 credits|
|Modern Poetry||30 credits|
|Modernism & Drama (1880-1930)||30 credits|
|The Art of the Novel||30 credits|
|Oedipus: Myths, Tragedies and Theories||30 credits|
|Postcolonial Literatures in English||30 credits|
|Studies in Literature and Film||30 credits|
|How to Read in Translation||15 credits|
Coursework portfolios, long essays, examinations (various timescales and formats) and dissertation. The dissertation must be passed for the degree to be awarded.
Credits and levels of learning
An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
These requirements relate to 2018 entry. For 2017 entry please check the programme specification.
Grade B in A-level English Literature (or Language and Literature) is required; A-level General Studies is not accepted.
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher), BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%, including a strong grade in English Literature
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2
If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.
For this programme we require:
IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0
If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.
Read more about our general entrance requirements.
English at Goldsmiths is ranked:
2nd in London for creative writing*
18th in the UK for the quality of our research**
In the world’s top 100 universities for English language and literature***
English and Comparative Literature
Cervantes. Bukowski. Dostoevsky. Self. From classical literature and linguistics, to creative writing and contemporary fiction, we take a critical and creative approach to the discipline.
As a department we’re interested in a field of enquiry that extends from Old English to 21st-century literatures in English, French, Spanish and Italian. So you can study texts and films across a variety of periods and genres.
We have a dedicated Writers’ Centre that encourages new writing and stimulates debate about all forms of literature. And we award the annual Goldsmiths Prize (for “fiction at its most novel”), which brings critically acclaimed writers like Ali Smith and Eimear McBride to campus.
We may be one of the largest departments at Goldsmiths but that doesn’t mean you won’t get personal support. Learn from our approachable team of academic staff and become part of the student-run English Society.
As one of the first departments in the UK to offer creative writing, you’ll be part of a hub of literary excellence – our graduates have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Orange Prize for Fiction to the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.
Find out more about the Department of English and Comparative Literature.
*Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
Learning & teaching
On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills.
But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.
This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of that are highly sought after by employers.
Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:
- Independent learning
Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.
Skills & careers
The skills you'll develop
Our degrees open up a wide range of careers by developing critical and analytical skills, proficiency in assessing evidence, the clear expression of ideas, and the ability to bring together insights from a range of subjects – all of which are attractive to a variety of employers. You will learn to solve problems, to think critically and creatively, and to communicate with clarity.
Our graduates have a good employment record: professions include publishing, journalism, PR, teaching, advertising, civil service, business and industry, European Union private sector management and personnel work, and the media. You can read more about the career options open to you after graduation on our English and Comparative Literature careers pages.
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.