SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

World Literature in London

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • How to Apply


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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

World Literature in London capitalizes on SOAS’ location at the heart of central London, close to historic literary locations and a range of world class . Accordingly, as a World Literature student you will undertake field-work involving on-site research in venues such as the British Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This gives students a chance to occasionally leave the classroom, get out and about on London’s streets and engage directly with London’s history and character as an imperial and global city. Using the city as our canvas we examine how cities broadly, and London in particular, have inspired a range of texts from various corners of the globe.

The focus of this short course incorporates key literary genres which have shaped world literatures, encompassing modern, postmodern and postcolonial texts reflecting contemporary debates around race, gender, sexuality and class. Emerging issues and themes such as migration, urban life, the modern self, money and climate change inform our readings of a broad range of texts. Important Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Joseph Conrad are placed alongside urgent new voices such as the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Dominican-American novelist Junot Diaz and the course gives students the opportunity to examine texts which explore how characters negotiate complex transnational realities and transcultural linguistic spheres.

Students are required to complete a short Independent Study Project. This task is designed to allow you to engage actively and creatively with the materials and ideas informing the course. You will choose a writer of interest to you and whose work is relevant to the themes and issues studied on the course. You will be supported and guided as you prepare a short oral presentation on this writer’s work. Through exploration, comparison and contrast students will be supported in lectures, seminars and on-site fieldwork sessions as they learn to think independently and engage critically and creatively with a range of exciting and important literary texts.

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


English language recommendations for students choosing subject courses: Students will need at least an intermediate level of English in order to understand the lectures, which are delivered at undergraduate level, and to engage in lively discussion in the seminars and tutorials. See our brochure for further details of appropriate language test scores.


Week One: World Literature and Western Identities

Lecture One. The Revolution of the Self

• Folklore and Folk Culture
• The Individual in Society
• Politics and the Emergence of Modern Literature
• The American Revolution in Literature
Core Reading: Washington Irving, The Legend of Rip Van Winkle

Lecture Two: Poetry and Democracy: Remaking the Modern Self
• Modernism and Poetry
• Poetry and politics in the 19th and 20th Centuries
• Imagism and modernism
• The city and the poem
Core Reading: poems by Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Frank O’Hara
Case Study I: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: A Field Trip
Case Study II: London Literary Walk: City Literature

Week Two: World Literature and Empire

Lecture One. Empire in Africa
• The impact of European Empires on global cultures
• 19th century nationalism and revolution
Core Reading: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Lecture Two. Africa Writes Back
• The transition from the imperial to the post-imperial world
• Colonial and Post-colonial literatures
• Chinua Achebe and African Literature
Core Reading: Extracts from Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart

Case Study III: British Museum Field Trip – The Colonizers and the Colonized

Week Three: Transnational Spaces in World Literature

Lecture One. London – City of Strangers

• The impact of industrialisation on society and culture
• The growth and influence of global cities
• Literature of the city
• The city and the self
• The figure of the stranger in modern literature
Core Reading: Extracts from Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot

Lecture Two. Migrants

• Post-Colonial cultures
• Transnational identities and migration
• Hybridity and subjectivity
• Gender and sexuality in contemporary literature
Core Reading: Short stories by Junot Diaz and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Oral Presentation: Special Author Study



How to Apply



(31st March 2020): Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are unable to run the Summer Programme in 2020 and it is, unfortunately, cancelled. The information below is for reference only and we expect to provide details of the programme for 2021 from October onwards.


2020 Course Fees
  • 3 weeks (1 block): £1,500 GBP
  • 6 weeks (2 blocks): £2,900 GBP (save £100*)
  • 9 weeks (3 blocks): £4,000 GBP (save £500*)

*compared to the cost of a 3-week block

Accommodation Fees
  • per 3-week block: £790 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 IFCELS Summer Programme 2020 Application Form (pdf; 147kb)   and post it to:

Head of Department, International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

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

Summer Pathway Preparation Course PCI 2020 (pdf; 163kb)