London History & Literature Program

The goal of the London History & Literature Program is to allow students, through a combination of coursework and directed research, to read, write, and live London. It will also help students learn how to conduct advanced research projects and introduce them to the best modern scholarship in their fields—a unique opportunity for students considering advanced study in English or history.

Students undertake research projects in English history or literature with the guidance and the support of faculty, and classroom-based courses offer a broad variety of approaches to the history, literature, and society of London. Students will live in Boston University’s unmatched student housing in London and take classes in the BU London Academic Center, but the real classroom is the city itself—its life and its people through the centuries.

Program Curriculum

Students have one required class and one research seminar in their chosen field (English or history). They will then choose one elective during the first part of the semester (Elective A), and one elective during the second part of the semester (Elective B), for a total of 16 credits.

Required Courses

English Literature Track
CAS EN 340: Visionary Capital: The Writing of London (4 credits)

Using a selection of poems, plays and novels, class explores the imaginative potential of London. Close attention to specific historical development in relation to works by authors from Spencer to McEwan. Syllabus


CAS EN 391: Research Seminar in the Literature of London (4)

Course aims to give an informed sense of the variety of ways available in pursuing interpretation and evaluation of literary texts. Texts in question will all involve the exploration of various aspects of the city of London. Syllabus

English History Track
CAS HI 246: London: Imperial City to World City (4)

(Formerly CAS HI 303.) Course aims to introduce students to the social, economic and cultural history of London since 1666, focusing on how London developed from being the modest-sized capital city of England to capital of the British Empire and world’s largest city. Syllabus

CAS HI 432: Research Seminar and Tutorial in English History (4)

Seminar considers the relationship between the past and the present, and surveys the evolution of key historiographical trends in modern English history.  Includes research methods, lectures and an upper level undergraduate research paper using primary and secondary evidence. Syllabus

Elective Courses

Students choose two 4-credit electives in literature, theater, or other subjects from the BU London curriculum. Suggested electives include but are not limited to:

English Literature Track

Elective A

CAS EN 310: British and Irish Writing: Poetry and the Novel Since 1900 (4)

This course aims to provide the student with an appreciation of texts selected from a variety of representative and influential modern authors. Students will be provided with requisite contextual information regarding biographical, social, and political backgrounds to assist them with the development of the skills and vocabulary that are needed to foster competent and persuasive literary interpretation. Syllabus

CAS EN 387: Writing in Today’s Britain: Meet the Writer (4)

(Formerly CAS IP 406.) Examines very recent texts of many genres in English, by both new and experienced contemporary writers, in the context of both literary history and the marketplace. Issues include: Freedom of speech, roles of literary agent and editor, literary integrity. Condé. Syllabus

CFA TH 508: Contemporary British Theatre (4)

(Formerly CFA DR 507. Enrollment limited.) Provides students with access to contemporary British theater and the critical tools to understand and enjoy theater from the perspectives of the playbooks and the productions themselves. This course surveys and offers explanation of the major developments that have taken place in British theater since 1956. Coursework focuses on students’ theater visits, which occur once every week and include both mainstream and fringe theater productions. The plays are discussed prior to attendance, and students are expected to provide a critique of the works they have seen. Read. Syllabus

Elective B

CAS EN 357: Modern British Drama: A Critic’s Perspective (4)

(Students enrolled in DR 443 are strongly recommended not to take this course.) Offers a broad critical study of the major developments in British drama over the past 50 years. Through the eyes of a leading theater reviewer, the work of specific playwrights is analyzed in detail, and students are expected to produce written and oral critical analyzes of plays read and observed during the course. Sierz. Syllabus

CAS EN 368: Seminar in Shakespeare Studies (4)

This course aims to provide the student with an appreciation of the nature of Shakespeare’s achievement through the study of four plays in class sessions and the option of reading one other play that the student may choose for his or her directed study. The sessions will naturally involve some discussion of the general background of Shakespeare and his works, with time being devoted to the various thematic, structural, and historical issues that arise from a study of his plays. For the greater part of the course however, time in class will be devoted to a close critical reading of various sections of the plays in order to give the student the opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of the verbal and dramatic qualities of Shakespeare’s genius, and of the myriad ways in which meanings are expressed through the language, imagery, structure, and dramatic possibilities of the works themselves.

English History Track
CAS HI 251: Cultural Capital: The History of Popular Culture in London (4)

(Formerly CAS HI 320.) (Prerequisite as of Fall 2010: one undergraduate-level History course.) Traces the development of popular culture in London from the late eighteenth century to the present. Concerned with popular cultural “texts” as well as popular cultural sites. Organized chronologically, from the early origins of modern culture to the present. Peplar. Syllabus

CAS HI 249 / CAS WS 310: London Women’s Social History from Aphra Behn to the Blitz (4)

This course examines the lives of women in London over the past three centuries from a social history perspective. Students will study patches of history from the 1660s and up to and including the role of women during the Second World War. One of the aims is to introduce and broaden students’ experience of working with primary source materials and London is a splendid resource for students who are interested in this aspect of studying and writing history. Atkinson. Syllabus

Program Details

  • Priority will be given to qualified upperclassmen
  • Please note that a visa is not required for this program
  • Admissions requirements for all programs
Program Dates
  • Fall Semester: late August to mid December

    Please note that this program is only offered during the fall semester.

    • Upon successful completion of the program, students earn sixteen Boston University credits. Students must enroll for a total of sixteen credits.
    Application Deadlines
    • Fall Semester: March 15

    Download a description of the London History & Literature Program.

    Program Faculty & Staff

    All Boston University London programs are administered in coordination with our Boston and London offices. In Boston a program manager facilitates the admissions and pre-departure procedures and maintains contact with students prior to their arrival in London. The Boston office also houses administrative personnel who are responsible for everyday operations. In London the staff comprises a resident director as well as administrative, academic, and housing personnel.