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This pathway allows you to study two or more literatures comparatively, either by choosing a designated comparative special subject or subjects in different languages. You will need to apply for the MSt or MPhil in Modern Languages and if you are offered a place, select your special subjects accordingly. The Medieval and Modern Languages programme combines a focus on European traditions of comparative philology and literary studies forged by critics like Erich Auerbauch and Leo Spitzer with contemporary questions around postcolonialism, globalization, and world literature. In the course of your studies, you will develop an enhanced awareness of the complexity of literary communication across linguistic and cultural borders and develop your cultural imagination through understanding the creative modes of transfer that are translation and adaptation.

Students may select courses from individual languages or from the Faculty’s tailor-made comparative special subjects.

The languages are:

* Courses that may be taken in the Faculty of English are normally those shown under List C (Special Options) in the course handbook. Participation is restricted and by prior approval.

Please note: English List C courses have a limited number of places and a large number of students from several Masters programmes selecting from these options. Some courses are heavily oversubscribed and it cannot be guaranteed that you will be allocated a place. Please be prepared for the possibility that you will not be able to take an English List C course, and that you will need to take all of your special subjects from the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages options available in that academic year.

Starting from 2022-23, the Faculty will offer a selection of specially designed cross-linguistic special subjects drawing on the Faculty’s research strengths, including: Contesting Colonialisms, Cultural Studies Seminar, Enlightenment Debates, Writing the Enlightenment, and Posthuman Ecologies.

Course Content

The MSt degree consists of four compulsory components: the Spaces of Comparison methodology seminar (taught across the first and second term), two Special Subjects (taught in the first (Michaelmas) and second (Hilary) term, respectively); and a dissertation.


Michaelmas Term Hilary Term Trinity Term
Special Subject 1 Special Subject 2 Dissertation
(10-12,000 words)
Spaces of Comparison


Special Subjects: You will select what you and your supervisor(s) think are the best essay or essays and submit it or them as a portfolio for examination. Special Subject submissions may comprise one or two essays to a total maximum word length of between 5,000 — 7,000 words.

Spaces of Comparison Seminars: submission of an essay of 5,000 to 7,000 words for examination at the end of the second term.

Dissertation: Submission of a dissertation of 10,000 — 12,000 words in the seventh week of the third term of study.


Applicants may also be interested in the new MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation, full details of which are available from the Humanities Division.