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Comparative Literature and Linguistics

QQ21 BA (Hons) 3 years


On this programme, you divide your time equally between the two subjects. Comparative literature is about making comparisons – and connections – between challenging themes and motifs in different literatures and cultures. As well as having the opportunity to study a range of genres, time periods, and national literatures (all of which can be studied in translation), you can cross nationalities and even time periods. You could also examine links between literature and a whole range of other art forms: such as music; film; popular culture or visual arts.

Linguistics complements the study of literature, allowing you to gain an understanding of how language works and how we communicate with each other. You will develop systematic ways of looking at examples as diverse as youth language in our multicultural and multilingual cities, or the English used in the media and politics. You will consider how new technologies shape the form of English and whether the spread of English in the world is changing or even killing other languages.

In your first year you will follow foundation modules introducing you to various aspects of linguistic and literary theory alongside modules focusing on particular aspects of both subjects. Advanced options in second and final years permit you to concentrate on the areas of literature and linguistics that interest you the most.

Why study Comparative Literature and Linguistics at Queen Mary?

The School of Languages, Linguistics and Film are consistently highly praised for the quality of the research being carried out by staff. In particular, Linguistics was ranked 1st in the UK (Research Excellence Framework 2014). While at many universities, comparative literature often sits within the English department, at Queen Mary it is an invigorating, growing and dynamic department in its own right – a reflection of our commitment to the subject. This means that you will be taught by leading specialists of international standing whose cutting-edge research informs their high-quality teaching.

We also did well in the latest National Student Survey, with 94 per cent of students of Comparative Literature were satisfied with the quality of the programme overall; 89 per cent of students of Linguistics gave the teaching on their programme top rating.


Year 1

Compulsory modules:
  • Introduction to Literature: Texts and Context
  • Introduction to Comparison
  • The Scene of Teaching
  • Foundations of Linguistics

Options include:

  • Languages of the World
  • English in Use
  • Language Acquisition
  • Introduction to Phonology
  • Brief Encounters: Short Stories and Tall Tales
  • The Opposite of Science: How to do Things with Poems

Year 2

Compulsory module:
  • The Scene of Reading
  • Options include:
  • Art and Revolution
  • Approaches to Fairy Tales
  • Literature and Philosophy
  • Sociolinguistic Variation and Change
  • Language and the Media
  • Language and Ethnicity
  • Aspects of Meaning

Year 3

Compulsory module:
  • The Scene of Writing

Further options include:

  • Faust in Legend, Literature and the Arts
  • Poetry and Poetics of Resistance
  • Touch and Read: The Five Senses in Literary Modernism
  • Lost in Translation?
  • Formal Semantics
  • Ethnography of Communication
  • Structures of Spoken English
  • Bilingualism
  • Sex, Gender and Language

Entry requirements

General Information

We welcome applicants whose first language is not English; you must obtain a grade B in GCSE English language or equivalent, or will be required to have IELTS 7 (with grade 7 in writing).

Excluded subjects: General Studies and Critical Thinking.


Typical tariff or grades required: 320-340 UCAS points from 3 A-levels including B in a relevant subject.

International Baccalaureate

Subjects and grades: 34 with 5 in relevant. HL 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 Entry requirements page for more information.

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

Learning and Teaching

Teaching takes a number of forms. Lectures are used to convey information, to introduce students to the basic concepts of the discipline and to develop sustained interpretation and argument. Seminars and workshops allow students to put into practice the concepts and approaches presented in lectures. We give our students individual attention and every student has an Adviser who can help with academic or personal problems.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete a further 5-6 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.


Assessment methods vary from module to module, and include a mixture of exams and coursework or coursework only. Assessment of linguistics work may take different forms, such as diaries of your own research, or poster presentations.

Fees and finance

Tuition fees

Fees are charged at a Home/EU rate for UK and EU nationals, and an overseas rate for International students - find out more about how your tuition fee status is assessed.

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:

English Teacher

Madani Girls School

PR Account Manager

Celebrity Chef Consortium


Weekly Times Newspaper

Freelance Events Manager

Tate Movie Project, BBC

Training Centre Co-ordinator

ESI International

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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