Comparative Literature, MLitt

Comparative Literature, MLitt


Study of literary texts in transnational, global and postcolonial contexts. Engage with literary and cultural texts from different language backgrounds using an exciting range of methodological approaches.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
Location of Study

The programme provides a solid grounding in practices, theories, and methodologies of Comparative Literature. You will engage with texts in English translation and/or in the original language (as language competence allows), drawing on expertise in studies relating to translation and different languages, cultures, and societies. Through the programme, you will immerse yourself in diverse literary works across various styles, genres, and periods, developing new understandings of our interconnected world.

You will be taught by highly qualified tutors and experts from different languages and related disciplines, diversifying your skillset and research knowledge in literary studies. Our varied courses examine fascinating interdisciplinary approaches to literature, tracing recent developments and methodologies in decolonial studies, gender studies, and environmental and medical humanities. Beyond exploring works of literature, we offer the flexibility to advance your study interests or specialisms in related media, such as film or visual culture.

We deliver a structured approach to build analytical and critical skills in these areas and help you transition to guided independent research by the end of the programme. Throughout your study, you obtain solid preparation to progress into further research at PhD level or an exciting range of careers in publishing, cultural heritage, journalism, public policy, translation, teaching and more.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

  • Comparative Literary Studies
Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Critical Skills: Reading and Engagement (PD50C2)

This course will equip you with the essential skills required to engage with your postgraduate studies. Through a series of lectures, interactive seminars and authentic materials, you will build on your critical thinking skills with fellow PGT students from across the school. Critical Reading, essay writing and presentation skills will be offered as part of this course, providing students with skills fundamental to PGT and workplace contexts.

Critical Skills: Research and Dissemination (PD55C1)

This course will equip you with core research and dissemination skills. Centred on an interdisciplinary approach to research, the course will allow you to engage with peers from various research backgrounds to contribute, discuss and share in an interactive academic community. The course will detail key research techniques and communicative modes for successful dissemination. Communication skills specific to engaging with industry stakeholders will also be covered as part of this course in order to boost employability.

Optional Courses

Choose ONE of the following:

Locations and Dislocations: the Role of Place in Literature (EL50C1)

30 Credit Points

This course examines the social, political and cultural construction of place in literary texts. The imaginative co-ordinates of places such as ‘Scotland’, or ‘England’ exist in a constant state of flux, refusing to yield an essential, authentic image. Using core texts from the early modern period paired with more recent literary responses we explore the idea of place in its various forms. Key themes and issues to be discussed will include the rural and urban divide; literature and nationhood; the nature of community; the significance of emigration, and displacement; walking texts, metropolitan literature, and ideas of the “new world”

The Novel: Environments and Encounters (EL50C5)

30 Credit Points

This module explores how the evolution of the novel form has allowed, and required, authors to find new ways of depicting spaces, places and interactions (between characters in particular environments, but also between characters and their environment). This chronologically wide-ranging course moves from the early days of the novel form through to contemporary fiction, allowing for an opportunity to study the many literary tactics that authors have employed to create the settings for their works – from vast historical backdrops, to natural spaces, to urban environments, to smaller domestic and private places. It also us to consider how different cultural moments have prompted authors to rethink how they represent characters’ encounters with the world around them, and with the other cultures, races, species and genders that inhabit that world. As well as narrative theories, students will have the chance to study canonical and less well-known texts from angles informed by current critical approaches such as ecocriticism, animal studies, postcolonial and queer theory.

Key Concepts and Methods in Translation Studies (LN5009)

30 Credit Points

The course introduces and critically evaluates some of the major concepts in translation theory, focusing on their application to translation practice. It analyses translation as a social and cultural phenomenon. Students will develop the skills necessary to reflect critically on their own translation practice in order to enhance its breadth and sophistication. In the second semester, the course will also provide training in research methodology in preparation for the dissertation.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Renaissance (EL50D4)

30 Credit Points

This core course is aimed at providing an introduction for students who have chosen the MLitt in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and want to study the Renaissance and early modern period from around 1450 to 1750 through a variety of interdisciplinary approaches.

Fundamentals of English Language (EL50D2)

30 Credit Points

This core course introduces students to advanced study of the English language. Three key aspects of the structure of English are introduced: the sound patterns of English (phonology); the structure of English words (morphology) and the structure of sentences (syntax). We then consider the relationship between the semantic meaning of linguistic constructions and their pragmatic implications. The course will enable students to refer confidently to the structure and use of the English language in their own research projects, whether the focus is literary or linguistic.

Contemporary Issues in Aesthetics (MU5016)

30 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the work of key contemporary texts in aesthetics relating to music and the other arts. Texts will be studied, discussed and related to one another. While selected texts will vary from year to year, readings will be taken from writers such as Adorno, Badiou, Benjamin, Barthes, Bloch, Boulez, Deleuze (and Guattari), Dahlhaus, Derrida, Dufrenne, Eco, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Jameson, Jencks, Lachenmann, Lyotard, Nancy, Nietzsche, Rancière, Rihm, Sartre, Schoenberg, Serres, Sloterdijk, Spivak, Stockhausen, Vattimo, Wittgenstein, Zizek.

Examples of issues and questions that may be covered include the nature of modernity, post-modernity more idiosyncratic variable theorisations of recent aesthetic history; the nature and purpose of the contemporary artwork; the beautiful and the sublime; relationships between the arts; the materiality of contemporary art forms; musique informelle.

Research Methods in Film and Visual Culture (FS5022)

30 Credit Points

This team-taught course will introduce students to key research methods in the field of film and visual culture as utilised in the research and practice of faculty members in the department. Each week students will engage with a range of written and visual materials relating to a specific approach to the study and/or production of visual culture. These may include: approaches to working with living artists and documents of ephemeral art; theories of the animal gaze; approaches to practice-as-research; documentary; memory and memorialisation; the relationship between film, art and history; close reading; bricolage; walking; intermediality; and projects in art and science among others. Throughout the course students will explore important theoretical concepts and artistic paradigms in these areas, applying them in weekly exercises and seminar preparations, and ultimately using one (or more) of them in their assessed work.

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

  • Specialist Literary Study 1 (15 credits) AND Specialist Literary Study 2 (15 credits)

Optional Courses

Choose ONE 30 Credit Course or TWO 15 Credit Courses from the following:

  • LN5513 Literary Translation
Places and Environments: Critical Dialogues (EL55D3)

30 Credit Points

This course introduces students to a range of critical, theoretical, and philosophical approaches to environment and place, as well as aligned research methods. Students will read key works of ecocriticism, ecofeminism, environmental philosophy, cultural geography, and related areas. Close reading and discussion of central texts will provide a foundation for further research, including the dissertation. Students will have the opportunity to discuss these ideas in relation to both literary and social contexts. This course is restricted to students on the MLitt Literatures, Environments, and Places, or by permission of the School.

Infinite Scotlands: Scotland and the Literary Imagination (EL55C7)

30 Credit Points

This course explores the ways in which place is negotiated in a range of Scottish texts. Looking at a selection of texts about rural, urban, and diasporic experience across the centuries, and including both canonical and lesser-known works, this course will acquaint students with key debates in the study of regional and national fiction. Place in these texts is something to be praised and scorned, embraced and abandoned, but always remains central in any discussion of individual and communal identities. Major themes and issues to be discussed include: the idea of ‘home’; the role of nostalgia and longing in Scottish fiction; the nature of community; the significance of emigration and displacement.

Writing the Self (EL55C2)

30 Credit Points

What is at stake in writing autobiographical texts? What are the forms writers have used to write themselves? Is autobiography simply, as Oscar Wilde states, the lowest form of criticism? Looking at a range of texts from the Medieval period to the present, with a special focus on women’s writing, this course examines the formal, ethical, political, and aesthetic choices writers make when writing themselves.

Approaching English Language and Literature (EL55D1)

30 Credit Points

This core module takes a chronological approach to the development of English literary language (placing this within the context of language as a whole). Four canonical authors in English are used to facilitate the introduction of key concepts and terminology from across stylistics, sociolinguistics and literary studies. It is intended to equip students from the MLitt in English Language and Literature with the knowledge of these disciplines needed to produce a summer research project on their chosen topic. 

Public Engagement for Arts (EL5596)

30 Credit Points

Art and culture are integral to our daily lives, and the ways in which these are experienced are continually changing. Whether it is in a street performance, a public gallery, an academic festival, a webcast, a documentary or in social media, the relationship between the creative artist and those who consume it, is complex and can itself be a creative process. This course explores the many ways in which creative materials can be brought to public view, and how different forms of communication, aural, verbal and visual, can enhance public engagement with aesthetic experiences and the discourses around these.

Documentary Theory and Practice (FS5533)

30 Credit Points

The module offers a comprehensive look at how documentary has interrogated, and in some rare cases even influenced, politics, social values, and even popular culture. Students will be expected to look at how documentary filmmakers have built upon the famous Griersonian quote – ‘the creative treatment of actuality’ – to evolve the form’s style and scope as well as to challenge the very notion of filmic truth and reality. Attendees to the module will also learn how to identify the key documentary modes and be expected to analyse and understand how the movement’s use of transgressive visual images, no matter how apparently ‘genuine’, is frequently presented through a cinematic perspective that is not always objective. Furthermore, the module will require students to produce a short documentary or individual video essay (in documentary form) and, in doing so, explore the challenges of objective presentations.

Additional Language - Specific Translation Portfolio (LN5512)

15 Credit Points

This course is based on supervision of practical experience. Students and supervisors will select texts to be translated and discuss approaches and other practical issues. The remainder of the course is dedicated to self-directed study, in which students compile a portfolio of work. Feedback on the portfolio is discussed in detail with the supervisor. Additional translations are set beyond the portfolio itself, giving students the opportunity to enhance and polish their skills with a wider range of materials. Students will normally be translating one document per week and will receive oral feedback.

Professional Skills for Translators (LN5522)

15 Credit Points

The course introduces and critically discusses the roles and processes involved in professional translation. Topics studied will vary from year to year, but are likely to include at least some of the following: project management, marketing one’s services as a freelance translator; career and entrepreneurial opportunities for language specialists; fee structures and pricing for freelance translators; working for agencies and large organizations; professional ethics; client communication; pitching translation projects to publishers; evaluation of networking, professional organizations and CPD opportunities for translators; translation and the law.

Intercultural Communication (LN5510)

15 Credit Points

In this course a range of theories for exploring cultural norms and practices will be explored. Cultural Dimension Theory, Cross Cultural Pragmatics and Language socialization will be considered core areas of study. Other areas of relevance that will be covered and discussed include: Social Identity Theory and Language, English as a Lingua Franca the effects of Globalisation on language policy and communication, Intercultural Communication in Specific Professional Contexts, Intercultural Communication in Health Care ”The case of migrant patients and native speaker Doctors/health care staff, Intercultural Communication in Business Meetings” overcoming cultural barriers and negotiating meaning.

Translation Technology (LN5521)

15 Credit Points

In order to take this course, a windows-based laptop is required (the translation software programme used on the training sessions works on windows as its operating system). Students will need to install the translation software programme license, provided as part of this course, on their own laptops - help and guidance will be given to students to do this. Students will need to bring their own laptops to the training sessions.

This course equips students with a critical appreciation of the role that technology can play in certain domains of translation, and equips them to use such technologies in a variety of contexts. Students will use different software/cloud-based technologies to construct termbases, translation memories, deliver translated texts and make use of the various quality-assurance tools and task reports that such technology offers. The course will also explore machine translation technologies, and the import and export of files between different software/cloud packages.

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

  • Dissertation in Comparative Literature.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £11,100
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Peer Learning
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

You learn through a mix of teaching methods and supervision to challenge your thinking and put your critical skills to the test.

Why Study Comparative Literature?

  • Study literature beyond language boundaries, with attention to transnational processes and encounters.
  • Access non-English texts through translation, drawing on expertise in translation studies, or in the foreign language, as appropriate.

  • Build research specialisms and capacity, transitioning smoothly to more independent research.

  • Engage with cutting-edge debates in the arts and humanities in areas such as decolonial studies, gender studies, environmental, medical, digital humanity or intermediality.
  • Pursue interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies, thinking beyond traditional disciplinary categories.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

You should have a 2:1 degree (or international equivalent) in Modern Languages, English Literature, or a cognate discipline. We also recommend you have reading proficiency in at least one language besides English.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


You will develop transferable skills in communication, critical analysis, language, and cross-cultural understanding to support your professional aspirations. Our programme provides excellent preparation to enter a range of careers across different work settings. These roles include and are not limited to:

  • Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Education
  • Research
  • Law

2nd in Scotland for Linguistics

We are ranked 2nd in Scotland for Linguistics by The Complete University Guide 2024.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Fransiska Louwagie
Professor Nadia Kiwan
Programme Coordinator
Dr Tara Beaney

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX