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World Literature - BA (Hons)

UCAS code Q203

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


Offered by the Department of Comparative Literature, World Literature takes the same approaches to compare and contrast international texts and cultures, but broadens the scope to include non-Western literary sources, such as Asian, African, Arabic and Latin American texts. 


The programme includes a wide range of modules on which you can study literature from Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and Ancient and Imperial China, as well as works from English and American, Arabic, African, Asian, Latin American, and European literary traditions.

You develop an understanding of historical and cross-cultural literary traditions and the ways in which they interact, while broadening your critical knowledge of literature and your appreciation of questions of translation and transmission. You also have the opportunity to explore concepts such as ‘genre’, ‘theme’, ‘fictionality’, ‘literariness’, ‘canon’, ‘reception’, and ‘literary movement’. As a result of encountering writers and texts from all over the world, you gain a truly global perspective on literature and its cultural contexts.

You do not need to be able to read a foreign language to take this programme as we study translations into English of a great range of major literature from other countries alongside literature originally written in English.

This programme includes the option to spend a year abroad, between Stages 2 and 3.

Independent rankings

In the National Student Survey 2016, Comparative Literature, which includes World Literature, at Kent was ranked 3rd in the UK for student satisfaction and quality of teaching.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a Year Abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year.  The Year Abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities.  Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme.  For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad.  The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Teaching and assessment

For most modules, you have one two-hour seminar per week. Your Final-Year Dissertation is based entirely on your private research but is supervised by a tutor and includes workshops and the chance to participate in an undergraduate conference.

Assessment varies according to the module, from 100% coursework to a combination of examination and coursework; for details click the 'read more' link within each module listed in the Course Structure.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

  • promote the study of world literature, ranging from that of ancient Mesopotamia, Asia and Classical Antiquity (Greece and Rome) to present-day English and American, Latin American, Arabic, African, Asian, Western and Eastern European literature
  • enable students to develop a systematic historical and cross-cultural understanding of a wide range of different national literary traditions and the ways in which they interact
  • develop students’ abilities to evaluate critically the mechanisms involved in the international circulation and reception of literature
  • encourage students to identify and develop their own interests and expertise in fields of literary study
  • encourage students to engage critically and systematically with cross-cultural approaches to literary studies
  • develop students’ understanding and critical appreciation of questions pertaining to translation
  • offer generous scope for the study of literature and its aesthetic specificities within an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural context
  • develop students’ abilities to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
  • develop further students’ intercultural competencies
  • offer students the experience of a variety of teaching styles and approaches to the study of literature
  • develop students’ independent critical thinking and judgement
  • provide a basis for the study of literature at a higher level
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach literature, including a broad frame of cultural reference
  • provide students with the opportunity to develop more general skills and competences so that they can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • a wide range of authors and texts from different periods and different cultures, from the beginnings of literature to the present day, including texts from Arabic, Asian, African, American, European and Russian writers
  • the cultural, national and historical contexts in which literature is written, transmitted and read
  • concepts such as ‘world literature’, ‘genre’, ‘theme’, ‘fictionality’, ‘literariness’, ‘canon’, ‘reception’, and ‘literary movement’
  • the problems inherent in interpreting ‘the translated text’
  • traditions in literary criticism
  • literary history
  • the transnational mechanisms of circulation and reception of literary texts
  • critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
  • the study of literature in its relation to other disciplines.

Intellectual skills

  • listening to, and absorbing of, the oral transmission of complicated data
  • careful reading of literary works and theoretical material
  • reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, using power of analysis and imagination
  • marshalling a complex body of information
  • remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
  • constructing cogent arguments
  • formulating independent ideas and defending them in a plausible manner
  • presenting arguments in written form in a time-limited context.

Subject-specific skills

  • enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts
  • a critical understanding of transcultural modes of reception and circulation
  • improved intercultural competencies
  • informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
  • ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to literary studies
  • sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
  • sensitivity to the problems of translation and cultural difference
  • well-developed language use and awareness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
  • articulate responsiveness to literary language
  • appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
  • understanding of how cultural norms, assumptions and practices influence questions of judgement
  • appreciation of the value of collaborative intellectual work in developing critical judgement.

Transferable skills

  • developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
  • enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
  • developed critical acumen
  • the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
  • competence in the planning and execution of essays and project work
  • enhanced skills in critical analyses
  • enhanced capacity for independent thought, intellectual focus, reasoned judgement and self-criticism
  • enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work, including more finely tuned listening skills
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
  • research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • IT skills: word processing, PowerPoint, email communication, the ability to access electronic data.


Comparative Literature at Kent, which includes World Literature, was ranked 2nd in the UK for the percentage of students who found professional jobs after graduation in 2015 (DLHE).Studying World Literature, you develop key transferable skills essential for the graduate job market, such as close reading, effective communication, and expressing your ideas. 

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level
Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate
34 points overall or 15 at HL




International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.


General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.



The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact