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History and Comparative Literature

VQ12 BA (Hons) 3 years


Comparative Literature makes connections between literary texts of different times, places and traditions and between literature and film, music, the visual arts and popular culture, while History complements the study of literature enabling you to gain an understanding of the intellectual, political and social context in which literature is conceived. The History programme covers all the main themes in medieval, modern and contemporary history, ranging from British to European, American, Asian and African topics. Advanced module options in the second and final years permit you to concentrate on the areas of literature and history that interest you most. You will divide your time equally between the two subjects, and you will be able to focus on the intersection of both in a research project in your third year.

Why study History and comparative literature at Queen Mary?

Comparative Literature is taught in the thriving School of Languages, Linguistics and Film. In the Government ’s most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), we were ranked highly for the quality of the research being carried out by staff. In particular, Linguistics was ranked 1st in the UK, and Russian and Iberian Languages were ranked in the top 10. This means that you will be taught by people who are breaking new ground in their fields, who will be able to pass on their passion and knowledge to you. We also did very well in the 2011 National Student Survey, with 91 per cent of students satisfied with the quality of the course overall; 95 per cent stating that the course is intellectually stimulating; and 97 per cent agreeing that staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching.

The School of History at Queen Mary, is one of the largest, friendliest and most distinguished history departments in the capital. The School prides itself on top-quality teaching from leading academics in their fields, including the President of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, three recipients of the French distinction of the Ordre des Palmes académiques, and four Fellows of the British Academy. (In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise Queen Mary was ranked in the top 15 research universities in the UK. The School of History, having entered all academic staff, performed outstandingly well with nearly a third of our research rated as 'world leading' and nearly two-thirds as 'internationally excellent' or better.)

Through strong engagement with the world outside, many of our staff in the History department contribute regularly to television, radio and the print media. We also count an MP and a member of the House of Lords among our academic body, and through our famous Mile End Group think tank we have strong links to the worlds of journalism and politics.


Year 1

Comparative Literature core modules:
  • Introduction to Literature
  • Introduction to Comparison
  • The Scene of Teaching

Options include:

  • Brief Encounters: Short Stories and Tall Tales
  • History compulsory modules:
  • History in Practice

Options include:

  • Europe and the Wider World since 1800
  • An Age of Revolution
  • Building the American Nation: The US 1765-1890

Year 2

Comparative Literature core modules:
  • The Scene of Reading

Options include:

  • Approaches to Fairy Tales
  • Photography and Narrative
  • European Tragedy: Renaissance to Twentieth-Century

History options include:

  • Race in the United States: Slavery to Civil Rights
  • Anglo-American Relations
  • Britain and Europe 1945-1963
  • A Century of Extremes: Germany since 1890
  • Anxieties of Empire: Rumours, Rebellion and the Imperial Imagination
  • Arabic for Historians

Year 3

Core modules:
  • The Scene of Writing
  • History Special Subject, including research dissertation

Options include:

  • Comparative Literature Research Project
  • Touch and Read: The Five Senses in Literary Modernism
  • Art since 1965: from the Rejection of Modernism to Post Modernism
  • British Horror: Film Television and Literature
  • Narratives of the Raj
  • Japanese Film: History, Culture and Fantasy

Entry requirements


Typical tariff or grades required: 320 points from 3 A-levels, equivalent to ABB at A-level, with a B  in History and a B in another relevant subject.

Excluded subjects: General studies and Critical Thinking.

International Baccalaureate

Subjects and grades: 34 points overall, with 5 in higher level History and 5 in a Higher level relevant subject.

Vocational and other qualifications

The College accepts a wide range of qualifications such as; Access and Foundation programmes, vocational awards, Irish Leaving Certificate, Scottish Highers and other Baccalaureates. Please visit our further information page below.

Further information on our entry requirements

Admission is based on academic merit and on the proven ability of the applicant to achieve success on their chosen programme of study. Every application to Queen Mary is considered on its individual merits with personal statement and reference taken into consideration.

Information for applicants from outside the United Kingdom, including English language qualifications

Learning and teaching

You will typically have eight hours of lectures and seminars per week, with class sizes ranging from 20 to 70 students. Large lectures are normally accompanied by smaller seminar groups or small working groups. All members of staff have office hours during which you are free to visit for further discussions regarding your work.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete a further 2 - 3 hours of independent study.  Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments.  However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area.  This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


You are assessed by a mixture of exams and coursework or by coursework only. Assessment in the final year will include the completion of a research project. This offers you the chance to carry out independently and in depth a sustained piece of research on a subject or case study of your own devising.

Fees and finance

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2017 entry
Full-time £9,250

Tuition fees for International students

2017 entry
Full-time £14,500

You can either take out a Tuition Fee Loan (see Funding section below) to pay your fees or, if you are paying them yourself, you can pay in instalments.

Tuition fees for a year abroad or placement year on a full time undergraduate course will be a proportion of the full fee for the year in which you commence your time abroad or placement.

For information on field trip and other course related costs which are not included in your tuition fee, please contact the relevant Department/School.

See more general information about fees.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7676


Queen Mary has a substantial package of scholarships and bursaries which will benefit around 50 per cent of our undergraduate student body.

Scholarships and Bursaries available at Queen Mary for Home/EU Students

There are a number of scholarships and bursaries available each year for home students. Visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page for more information.

Visit our Advice and Counselling website for more information about financial support.

Scholarships available at Queen Mary for International Students

There are a number of Scholarships available each year for International Students including bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas.

Find out more about international scholarships.

Some International students may also be eligible for a fee reduction.

Loans and Grants available to help with tuition fees and living costs

Student Finance England administers all grant and loans for your studies if you normally live in England.

If you live in WalesScotland or Northern Ireland you have an equivalent Student Finance department for your region.

Through Student Finance England, you can apply for (figures relate to programmes starting from September 2016):

  • A Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 to pay all or part of your fees
  • A Maintenance Loan of up to £10,702 to help pay your living costs like rent, food and travel
  • Extra grants if you have a disability or you have children or an adult dependant
  • You might get a grant to cover some travel expenses if you normally live in England but study away from home. If you’re a medical or dental student you might also qualify for help with the costs of attending clinical placements in the UK.

Visit Student Finance Information to find out more about:

  • How to apply for student finance
  • What eligibility rules apply, including if you already have a degree or previous higher education study
  • What the income thresholds are and how much you might personally get for each element of Student Finance
  • What to do if you have problems getting your Student Finance

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

  • Additional sources of funding
  • Planning your budget and cutting costs
  • Part-time and vacation work
  • Money for lone parents

For more information visit the Advice and Counselling service website, or call +44 (0)20 7882 8717.

Graduate Employment

Graduates from Queen Mary’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film go on to work in a wide variety of careers.  Some apply their degree knowledge directly, entering careers such as education and the arts, whilst others transfer skills gained during study into areas such as public relations.

The national 2011 destination survey confirmed that 86.7% of the School’s graduates were in employment and/or study six months after graduation with 73.1% already working/studying at graduate level. Queen Mary graduates have a strong earning power, as reported in the Sunday Times University Rankings.

The broad range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with multiple opportunities for extra-curricular activities and work experience, has enabled students to move into careers such as:

Trainee PR Account Executive

Mission PR


St Peter's Community Centre

English Teacher

Madani Girls School


Weekly Times Newspaper

Freelance Events Manager

Tate Movie Project BBC

Retail Development Executive

Heineken UK

Independent Financial Advisor


Throughout their time at Queen Mary, students have access to a careers programme to prepare them for internships and graduate level work. This includes workshops on job hunting and job applications as well as employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent careers events include an Experience Journalism workshop and a series of Career Conversations with employers working in areas such as the media, publishing and the arts.

Opportunities for work experience are substantial given Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village. Students are encouraged to build their work experience throughout their period of study, through, for example, our QM Projects work experience scheme, QM Temps job agency, Experience Works events and QMSU Provide volunteering services. Over 800 vacancies are available to browse on the QM JobOnline vacancy site.

Queen Mary’s extensive campus also provides over 1200 on-campus job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Gym Instructor and from Society President to Student Mentor.

Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages.


Name: Anja Popp

Studying: BA Comparative Literature

“I wanted to be in a big city and to study at a credible university doing a literature-based degree that was more diverse than your average English degree. Queen Mary ticked all the boxes, as well as being campus based (you can practically roll out of your bed to lessons). It’s also connected to all the other University of London colleges which means you have loads of Students’ Unions and libraries at your disposal!"

“The teaching staff at Queen Mary are so inspiring, they all do tons of research aside from teaching us, so they’re always in the know. They push for us to be able to do less known texts, which not only broadens our horizons, but means we are constantly exploring new topics, rather than repeating the same generic set texts."

“Queen Mary is in a great location. East London epitomises the culture and diversity of the big smoke. It has a chilled out yet happening vibe, and the most delicious curry a woman could ask for. Brick lane and Shoreditch are really funky areas to hang out in, and Stratford is like a city in a city, with all the rejuvenation for the Olympics in 2012."

“I am learning Spanish with the Language Centre, as whenever I go travelling I always feel really ignorant that I only speak English. I’m definitely not a natural linguist, but I’m trying really hard, and plan to join a Spanish conversational class later this year.”

Tom Symmons

BA Film Studies and History

How did you find your academic and social experience at QMUL?

“The critical skills and depth of knowledge I acquired during my BA Film Studies and History provided me a solid foundation for my postgraduate studies. My doctoral research thesis on the New Hollywood of the late-1960s and 1970s is now nearing completion and I intend to pursue a career in academia.

The joint honours degree course is structured to allow plenty of flexibility, and the modules on offer are diverse and well formulated; the interdisciplinary course 'Critical Approaches to Film: Alfred Hitchcock', was a particular favourite. It is also led by academics who are both leaders in their respective fields of research, and take a great deal of pride and interest in providing the best educational experience for their students.”


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