Skip navigation to content

About Comparative Literature

Why study Comparative Literature?

Read the best literature from around the world in English and make comparisons and connections across countries, time periods, subjects and genres.

Why do some texts end up on the school syllabus and not others? How does a 21st century German novel about the internet culture compare with an Italian novel of the same period on the same topic? How might Russian folktales have influenced French literature? How are monsters represented in different national medieval literatures? What is lost or gained when texts are translated into English? These are just some of the questions those studying comparative literature might ask.

Comparative Literature allows you to study an exceptionally broad range of literature in English, giving you a European (and indeed global) perspective on a range of literary genres (drama, novel, short story, essay, diary, poetry), themes and movements as they evolve both within and beyond national and cultural boundaries.

Students with a degree in Comparative Literature are highly prized by employers and typically pursue a wide variety of careers around the world. As a graduate in Comparative Literature you will have:

  • a rich knowledge of other cultures and identities;
  • highly sophisticated reading and analytical skills;
  • outstanding language and communication skills in English;
  • the ability to put information in context;
  • excellent team-working and presentation skills from class work and group projects;
  • the capacity to process and assimilate complex material from a range of cultures.

Why study Comparative Literature at St Andrews?

The study of Comparative Literature at St Andrews opens up the richness of the world’s great literature to ALL students, even if they are not are able to read the literature we offer in the original language(s). Students with reading ability in a particular foreign language (or languages) will be invited to read the originals where appropriate and to share the additional insights that this type of comparison brings.

Comparative Literature at St Andrews is taught by experts from the School of Modern Languages – French, German, Italian, Arabic, Persian, Russian and Spanish – alongside members of the School of English. Both Schools have been rated as amongst the best in the UK for their teaching and research. All the lecturers are teaching the texts they know and love from the cultures they have studied and published on; they will share their enthusiasm with you. Lecturers will also work together on many of the courses so you can see comparative literature in action.

You can combine Comparative Literature at St Andrews with English, History, Philosophy, Social Anthropology or International Relations, to name but a few. You can also study Comparative Literature alongside a language from within the School of Modern Languages. If you decide to take a joint honours degree with a language (e.g. Comparative Literature and Russian) you have the option of spending a year abroad. You could decide to study a language you have already started at school or learn something completely new (Arabic, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish).

The St Andrews Institute for Contemporary and Comparative Literature invites international speakers, academics and creative writers from around the world to talk to you about their work.