SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

World Literature in London (2021 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Apply


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

This course explores World Literature from a London perspective. It is based around the location of SOAS at the heart of London, close to historic literary locations. 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. We will use online resources from institutions like the British Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

The focus of this 3-week 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. 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 that writer’s work. Through exploration, comparison and contrast, students will be supported in lectures and seminars as they learn to think independently and engage critically and creatively with a range of exciting and important literary texts.

We use short extracts from relevant text, not the whole books. The language in the texts is made accessible through the integrated English classes.

Mode of Attendance: Online Learning

Entry requirements

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This 3-week course explores the following topics:

Week One: World Literature and Western Identities

Lecture One – What is World Literature?

  • The emergence of literature in ancient civilisations
  • Defining World Literature
  • The power of stories to shape people, civilisations and history

Core Reading: Selected stories from Arabian Nights

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

Week Two: World Literature and Empire

Lecture Three - Empire in Africa

  • The impact of European Empires on global cultures
  • 19th century nationalism and revolution

Core Reading: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Lecture Four - 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

Week Three: Transnational Spaces in World Literature

Lecture Five – 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 Six - 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

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Subject courses with English support are taught by two teachers, a subject specialist and a language expert. The subject classes use lectures, seminars and cases studies, whereas the integrated language classes focus on skills development (especially speaking and listening) using the subject content.

This is a full-time course with interactive live classes every day (mornings UK time), plus daily independent guided study. Students work towards delivering a presentation at the end of the course. You can expect to strengthen language skills and deepen subject knowledge, whilst gaining greater confidence in communicating in English in an academic setting.

All teaching takes place online using easy-to-use platforms. You will need a computer with a webcam and mic.

The maximum number of students per class is 15.

You will receive a certificate for successful course completion.

Students will also have access to SOAS library including our wide range of e-books and e-journals.

Entry Recommendations

Students should be at an intermediate level of English in order to follow and participate in classes. We do not require proof of English level, but as a guideline IELTS 5.5, TOEFL IBT 76 (or equivalent) are recommended.


For further information please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Fees and funding

2021 Tuition Fees

• 3 weeks (1 block): £1,200 GBP
• 6 weeks (2 blocks): £2,250 GBP (save £150*)
• 9 weeks (3 blocks): £3,075 GBP (save £525*)

*Compared to the cost of multiple individual blocks. The reduced fees for multiple blocks above are available for 2 or 3 blocks booked at the same time. The fee for any additional blocks booked after the initial application will be £1,200 for one extra block and £2,250 for two.


How to Apply

Apply through the Summer Online Application, or if you have problems with the online form, the application form is also available in PDF and Word format to download on the right side of the main Summer Programme Page.

Please ensure you send a scanned copy of a suitable identity document (see form for details).

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. Refunds of the course fees are only made at the discretion of SOAS in exceptional circumstances. If you have any queries, please see the FAQs or email

For instructions on how to pay, see IFCELS Fees. Please also see the full Terms and Conditions