Comparative Literature MA (joint degree)
2017 entry

Comparative Literature at St Andrews gives you the chance to explore a range of literatures (including Arabic, Persian, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish) in English translation, allowing you to gain insight into the different cultural traditions, socio-political and historical forces that have helped to form national and transnational canons. A focus on close reading and an introduction to issues surrounding literary translation as well as comparative methodologies will develop your analytical, descriptive, and evaluative skills. You will have the opportunity to read, discuss, and present reasoned arguments, and work on writing with precision and clarity.

Whilst St Andrews does not offer Comparative Literature as a single Honours degree, you can take Comparative Literature in combination with a wide variety of other subjects as part of a joint Honours degree.

If you are taking Comparative Literature with a modern language, you will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year to a country in your other chosen language.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Course type

Master of Arts (joint degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB
GCE A-Levels AAB
IB points 36

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

Applications for 2017 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of this subject is required.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.  

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Arts entry requirements.

Course information

The Comparative Literature portion of the four-year joint Honours degree course is run by the School of Modern Languages.

In the first two years, you will gain awareness of different genres and themes as they appear in a range of literatures and across a variety of languages (including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Latin American) and address the issue of how to study literature comparatively, especially when reading in translation. This will equip you with the range of literary experience and critical skills necessary for more in-depth study of specialist subject areas at Honours level.

Specialist subject areas include:

  • influence and reception
  • world literature
  • cultural translation
  • literary translation
  • cultural memory
  • cultural studies
  • intermediality
  • adaptation.

Find out more about studying Comparative Literature at St Andrews.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in Comparative Literature along with modules from your chosen joint subject.

Typically, you will take one Comparative Literature module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year (all texts are read in English translation):

  • The Nineteenth-Century Novel: introduces the study of Comparative Literature through nineteenth-century novels from France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK.
  • Drama in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries: introduces the study of Comparative Literature through plays written in the twentieth and twenty-first century from France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Russia, Spain, the UK and the USA.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year (all texts are read in English translation): 

  • Good and Evil: examines a broad range of texts from a number of national literatures, periods and genres in which the theme of good and evil is explored in different literary, social, political and historical contexts. Work on comparative theories and methodologies and on the importance of translation prepares students for Honours modules.
  • Journeys: explores a broad range of texts from different national literatures, periods and genres offering variants on the theme of journeys, explored in a range of literary, social, political and historical contexts. Work on comparative theories and methodologies is pursued, as is an exploration of the importance of translation.

If you decide to take Comparative Literature in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, each based on at least three national literatures.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Issues in Comparative Literature
  • The Literary Canon
  • Issues in Cultural Studies
  • Found in Translation
  • Cultural Memory and Literature
  • Autobiography and the Visual Arts
  • Folk and Fairy Tales.
  • Literature and the Bible
  • Crossing the Mediterranean.

In fourth year, students also undertake a 5,000 or 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

Comparative Literature modules involve traditional lectures supported by small discussion seminars. Lectures provide information, stimulate thought, and suggest directions for further reading and personal study. Small group seminars allow you to work together with each other and with your tutors to discuss texts and issues in detail.

Sub-honours Comparative Literature modules are delivered through lectures (100 to150 students) and small-group tutorials (10 to 15 students). At Honours level, lectures are replaced by tutorials of 5 to 15 students.


Comparative Literature sub-honours modules are assessed by 50% coursework, and 50% written examination. Assessment at Honours level varies, with many modules being assessed entirely by coursework.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School provides feedback on every assessment, with a view to improving your performance in future.


Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Faculty of Arts scholarship

The Dr Lawrence M Wodehouse Scholarship provides financial assistance for students studying in the Faculty of Arts who are academically gifted but would otherwise struggle with the cost of studying at St Andrews.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Comparative Literature as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

It is possible to combine a degree in Comparative Literature with two modern languages. Any combination of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish is available.

  • Ancient History
  • Arabic
  • Art History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • Classics
  • English
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • International Relations
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Management
  • Mediaeval History
  • Modern History
  • Philosophy
  • Russian
  • Social Anthropology
  • Spanish

Your future


The skills you gain through studying Comparative Literature are marketable in many career areas and your capacity to process and assimilate complex material from a range of cultures will make you highly employable.

Recent graduate career paths include:

  • publishing
  • journalism
  • business and commerce
  • marketing
  • media and the arts
  • civil service
  • IT development.

Graduates may also go into postgraduate study, either at St Andrews or to other universities.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of Comparative Literature may be interested in joining the following student societies:

  • Literary Society organises readings, socials, creative jam sessions and a book club.
  • Inklight is a creative writing society which runs poetry slams, open mic nights, workshops and an annual journal of student writing.

The School of Modern Languages is situated at the very centre of St Andrews in the Buchanan Building on Union Street. 

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of Modern Languages
University of St Andrews
Buchanan Building
Union Street
St Andrews
KY16 9PH

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2953

Modern Languages website