Courses and Assignments in London

During the semester in London, students in the Boston-London program take in a broad view of literature, history, and rhetoric–from the industrial revolution right up through the digital revolution. Classes explore art and literature, politics, economies, social change, and rhetorical practices through three classes: CGS HU 104, CGS SS 104, and CGS RH 104. For incoming freshmen in the Class of 2022, all of these courses– 14 credits in total–will fulfill the Boston University Hub’s general education requirements.

Cultural Excursions

Cultural excursions to historic sites are part of the experiential learning that makes the program unique. This semester, students visited Westminster Abbey, the London landmark cathedral founded over 1,000 years ago. They wandered the grounds of the Victorian burial ground, Highgate Cemetery– the final resting place of Victorian luminaries and celebrities such as Karl Marx, the novelist George Eliot, the poet Christina Rosetti, and the pop icon George Michael. They took excursions to Bath and Stonehenge, and went on an evening tour of Jack the Ripper’s East End haunts.

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  • Students on an excursion to Westminster Abbey. Photo courtesy of Lauren Ness

  • The vaulted ceilings of Westminster Abbey. Photo courtesy of Lauren Ness

  • Students on a trip to see the ancient Roman Houses of Bath. Photo courtesy of Lauren Ness

  • A trip to Stonehenge. Photo courtesy of Taylor Brandon

  • An historical artifact from the National Army Museum. Photo courtesy of Eric Liu

  • The view from St. Paul's Cathedral, 528 steps above the streets of London. Photo courtesy of Kirthana Iyer

In their Snapchat takeovers, Eliza Clark (CGS’19) showcased a trip to Highgate Cemetery and Kirthana Iyer (CGS’19) went to Stonehenge and Bath.


CGS faculty integrate the excursions with the course assignments. For example, students might read Virginia Woolf’s essay on visiting Westminster Abbey in rhetoric class, on the week they visit Westminster Abbey. On the week of a visit to Highgate Cemetery, students in one class might read an essay on the “landscapes of memory” as seen in the nineteenth-century garden cemetery, or they might analyze Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam.  Students might study postmodern art in the first part of the week and take an in-class excursion to the Serpentine Gallery in the second half. A week with a Jack the Ripper Tour in London’s East End could include an assignment about an author who’s mapped the East End and analyzed the relationship between poverty and the spatial economy. Students are also assigned to strike out on their own to visit museums and exhibits and to write their own reflections. Marisa Marino (CGS’19) took some photos capturing her visit to the art gallery, Tate Modern.

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  • Photo courtesy of Marisa Marino

  • Photo courtesy of Marisa Marino

  • Photo courtesy of Marisa Marino

The experiential learning works well with multimedia assignments. Master Lecturer of Rhetoric John Regan assigned his students to complete an exploratory research essay, combining their in-class readings and discussion with their own independent research of peer-reviewed sources. Next, students gleaned insights from monuments, memorials, and museums. Then they connected ideas from their peer-reviewed sources with their observations of monuments and artifacts, creating a video essay that pulled all of those elements together.

In her video essay on the women of World War I, Avery Bebon (CGS’19) integrated pictures of London memorials with an analysis of propaganda from the Imperial War Museum and quotes from her research. She said the experiential component of the project helped her find more information and make fresh connections: “Without the face to face component of the Imperial War Museum …  I wouldn’t have seen all the propaganda in person, or the uniforms donned by the women, or the pictures of comradeship.”

A few other examples of typical assignments:

  • Research a social class in Britain and visit different sites in London—monuments or museum exhibits—to conduct social science research
  • Create a podcast or put an essay into video form, with narration and photos
  • Do a rhetorical analysis accompanied by a photo collage
  • Visit a chosen memorial and take photos and videos
  • Visit a Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum

Learn more about the London semester in our other posts about advising, student life, and exploring London and the United Kingdom