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Comparative Literature (MA)

Course Description

This Master's 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 twentieth- and twenty-first-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.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
Explore literature from a comparative perspective and in the context of other cultural forms.
Examine the ways in which literary and cultural theories can change how we read cultures and the texts they produce.
Follow a pathway in French and/or German culture and language, if this is your specialist interest.
Courses taught in English by subject specialists from a variety of language areas.
Ideal if you wish to embark on doctoral research, further your career prospects (particularly in arts-related fields), or build on a personal interest.
You will have access to outstanding specialist libraries, including the collection of the Institute of Modern Languages Research at Senate House.
The departments involved in teaching this programme run a series of research events for both their taught and research postgraduates.

Visit the Comparative Literature (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

Student Profiles

Aaron Sims Scholarship - 8 Awards

Instituted under the will of Dr Aaron Sims, a former student of the College, this scholarship is intended to provide financial support for part-time postgraduate language (French, German, Portuguese or Spanish) students in Birkbeck’s School of Arts.This scholarship is open to part-time postgraduate students in 2014/15 who are studying for: - An MA in Comparative Literature with a substantial French or German component in the School of Arts (normally at least 60 credits in the language subject-area; students should normally have the ability to access the materials in the target language)
- MA Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Cultural StudiesPlease note that preference will be given to students who are graduates of a Birkbeck undergraduate degree and the number of scholarships available is strictly limited.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Applicants must:
- be enrolling on the first year of an eligible, postgraduate taught degree course
- be studying on a two year part-time taught course
- would normally be expected to complete a language placement test (French and German only)
- have made sufficient financial provision to meet the remaining costs associated with fees and other course costs
- Demonstrate academic excellence (at least a 2.1 or equivalent in an undergraduate degree)

Application Procedure

Please download a copy of the application form Word icon. Your completed application and supporting statement should be emailed to Lorna Bowden at: [email protected]

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Good first 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 Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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