SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

World Literature in London

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • How to Apply


Featured events

This course allows students to experience the literature of the modern world. Through extensive reading and critical writing, students will gain insight into the forces that continue to shape literature and culture around the world. An essay, reflections, discussions and projects will be required.

Statue of Charles Dickens and Little Nell by Bruce Andersen (Bruce Andersen) [Public domain, GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The period covered will extend from 1789 to present-day literature. A selection of prose works and poetry from various countries and traditions will form the core of the course. Representative texts by key writers such as Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami, Walt Whitman and Salman Rushdie will feature on the syllabus. The range of work aims at uncovering themes and concepts which recur across a wide range of cultures and extend across various historical time frames. London as a great world city and London’s impact on world literature will feature at various points during the course. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of London’s literary heritage and museums as part of their research.

Students will be required to undertake online and library research in order to offer each other necessary context for the regions we are focusing on during a particular seminar. This will include historical background on authors and brief summaries of important social and cultural contexts.
Students will have to prepare and deliver a presentation on a specific author or literary movement chosen in consultation with their tutor.

Click on the structure tab for more details and to see what structure the lectures will follow


Week One: Empires and Revolutions
Lecture One. Empire and Revolution
 The impact of European Empires on global cultures
 19th century nationalism and revolution
Extracts from: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness; W.B. Yeats, ‘September 1913’; ‘Easter 1916’; Ian Sinclair.
Lecture Two. End of Empire: the transition from the imperial to the post-imperial world.
 Colonial and Post-colonial literatures

Extracts from Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle; Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children; Chinua Achebe; Things Fall Apart;

Week Two: World Literature and World Cities
Lecture One. Great Expectations I: London - the modern self in the modern city.
 The impact of industrialisation on society and culture
 The growth and influence of global cities such as London, New York, Bombay and Tokyo
 Literature of the city
 The city and the self
Extracts from Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot

Lecture Two. Great Expectations II:  The Global City
 Post-colonial cultures
 Magic realism
 Hybridity and subjectivity
 The growth and influence of global cities such as London, Cairo and Bombay
Extracts from Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children (see Rushdie extracts from Week One); Junot Diaz, Alaa Al Aswany (The Yacoubian Building); Julia Alvarez and Amy Tan.

Week Three: Popular Culture and World Literature
Lecture One. Cowboys and Detectives: Modernity, Masculinity and Consumptio
 The relationship between high-brow and low-brow culture in the modern world
 Modernism and Postmodernism in popular culture
 Gender and popular fiction
 Global literature and genre fiction
Extracts from F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby; Owen Wister: The Virginian; Raymond Chandler.
Lecture Two. Pulp Poetry: democratic poetics: remaking the modern world
 Modernism and Poetry
 Poetry and politics in the 19th and 20th Centuries
 Imagism and modernism
 The city and the poem
Extracts from Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Frank O'Hara




How to Apply



3-weeks (1 block) course £1,290 GBP,

6 weeks (2 blocks) course £2,490 GBP

9 weeks (3 blocks) course £3,590 GBP


per 3 week £730 GBP

We recommend you apply early, especially if you want accommodation in the SOAS Halls of Residence. 

You will be sent an invoice and receipt for the course fees when you have accepted the offer and paid for your place on the course. A letter of registration will also be provided for visa purposes when you have paid the full fees. Refunds of accommodation and course fees are only made at the discretion of SOAS in exceptional circumstances.

If you have any queries, please email


Please fill in the online application form or print off the Summer: Application Form 2016 (pdf; 173kb) and post it to:

Head of Department International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS (University of London)
23/24 Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

Please ensure you send a scanned copy of the photo/issue page of your passport with the application

Pre-Course Information