Comparative Literature (M.Phil.)

M.Phil/P.Grad.Dip: 1 year full -time / P.Grad.Cert: 1 year part -time 
20 Places


Master’s Degree

This course is designed to provide an understanding of Comparative Literature as a subject of study and a critical practice. The core modules provide the theoretical and methodological basis for comparing texts of various genres and artefacts of different media at an advanced level. Optional modules enable the further development of these competencies and offer opportunities to develop and apply this knowledge and these skills to a range of primary texts from a wide range of languages, cultures, epochs and other contexts.

Applicants would normally be required to have a good honours degree (at least upper second- class honours standard), or an equivalent qualification, in a cognate area. Applicants should normally have an advanced reading knowledge of at least one language other than English among those offered by the School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies at Trinity College Dublin, but this is not a prerequisite.

The course consists of two core modules taken by all students (Theory and Methodology and Moving between Cultures), two options from the range offered in a given year, and a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words whose theme and approach should apply comparatist methods as studied in the programme.

In order to be awarded the degree of M.Phil. in Comparative Literature candidates must satisfy the Court of Examiners by obtaining an overall pass in both the following components:

• the assessment work for core module 1, core module 2, options 1 and 2 (combined) 

• the dissertation

The two core modules each contribute 20% of the overall assessment, the options each contribute 10% and the dissertation 40%.

Postgraduate Diploma

Students on the Postgraduate Diploma will enrol in two year-long core modules to be trained in the use of theory, criticism, and various possibilities of comparison ranging from the application of imagology to interdisciplinary approaches. These core modules are complemented by two term-long option modules with more specific literary and cultural content.

Postgraduate Certificate

Students on the Postgraduate Certificate will enrol in one year-long core module to be trained in the use of theory, criticism, and various possibilities of comparison ranging from the application of imagology to interdisciplinary approaches. This core module is complemented by one term-long option module with more specific literary and cultural content.

Students will be trained in the following areas:

•    Comparative and interdisciplinary research skills

•    An understanding of key terminology (intertextuality, influence, magical realism, etc.)

•    Applying cultural and philosophical theories to literary texts

•    An understanding of literary and cultural histories

•    An understanding of debates surrounding comparative literature and world literature

•    Reading literature in English translation but also in other languages. Ideally the knowledge of languages other than English is desired for this MPhil, although it is not a prerequisite.

•    Some of the cultural theories we engage with include but are not limited to texts by Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze/Felix Guattari, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, as well as theories from other fields including the Environmental Humanities, Psychology, Anthropology, etc.

The content of this programme draws on expertise by staff from the departments of the School, but also on people from outside of the School and Trinity.

Career Opportunities 

Graduates have pursued careers in publishing, editing, project management, cultural outreach, research, as well as academia.

Click Here for further information on modules/subject.

Study Comparative Literature (M.Phil.) at Trinity

This course video is designed to provide an understanding of Comparative Literature as a subject of study and a critical practice.

Course Details

Number of Places

20 Places

Next Intake

September 2023

Course Director

Dr. Peter Arnds

Closing Date

30th June 2023


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Admission Requirements

• A minimum 2.1 (upper-second class) Honours Bachelor’s degree from an Irish university or its international equivalent in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include but are not limited to the following: Languages, Literature, History, Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, Human Geography, Sociology, Religious Studies, Gender Studies, Textual and Visual Studies, Visual Arts, Art History, Economics, Political Science.

• Proficiency in English: All candidates who are not native English speakers and have not completed a degree through the medium of English are required to prove their proficiency with the language. Trinity prefers IELTS, but will accept alternative tests provided by international organisations, such as TOEFL.

Application and next steps

Applications are normally open from November until June and you may apply at any point. Places are offered to the best applicants on a first-come first-served basis. Places are limited, and for that reason, it is recommended that you apply as early as possible. The deadline for applications is June 30th.

Required Materials

For this course, you will need to submit the following materials to apply:

A) Sample of Academic Writing: As part of your application, you also need to submit a sample of no more than 2,500 words (excluding bibliography) of your best academic writing in English.

When we assess your application, we will pay particular attention to:

•    your ability to build and present a logical, cohesive argument

•    your ability to analyse and evaluate the arguments of others

•    your ability to adhere to the norms of academic writing (referencing, quotation, avoiding plagiarism* and other forms of academic misconduct, and bibliography)

•    your command of academic English

* We make use of Turnitin and other software to check for plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct in the samples submitted. An application may be rejected if samples of work submitted are found to include instances of such misconduct.

B) English Language Qualifications: Unless you have completed a degree through the medium of English or are a native speaker, you are required to prove your proficiency with the language. Please upload your certificate as part of your application. We highly encourage you to submit IELTS results that have at least a 6.5 score in each category of proficiency. 

C) Degree Certificate(s): You will need to provide degree certificates (in PDF format) that prove you have completed all of the degrees you mention in your application. If you haven’t yet completed your degree, you can still apply and supply these documents when you have them. If your certificates are not in English, and are not issued by Trinity, please obtain an official translation into English and upload both the translation and the original to the system.

D) Degree Transcripts: You will need to provide official transcripts (in PDF format) showing all of the components you have completed as part of your degree(s). If your transcripts are not in English, and are not issued by Trinity, please obtain an official translation into English and upload both the translation and the original to the system.

E) Two Reference Letters: You will need to provide reference letters from two referees who can provide references written in English, explaining why you would be a strong candidate for the course. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact their referees and inform them of their intention of applying for this programme. Referees listed by the applicant on Trinity's online application system will automatically receive an electronic reference request, providing them with a Trinity reference template and a link to upload their references.


Course Fees

Click here for a full list of postgraduate fees.

Get in Touch

Telephone Number

+353-1-896 1501


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"I've always gravitated towards the subjects of literature and history and I love to explore the distinct literary approaches of different cultures. Through Trinity's Comparative Literature program I got to do just that: I had the privilege of meeting many professors who each covered topics through an expert cultural lens, allowing me to view many different viewpoints and ideas on a common subject. Through this style of teaching I was able to further branch out into more regional studies and take a more diverse and interdisciplinary approach to my writing."

Olayinka Gbonegun


"The learning of this course enabled me to gain access to the skill of applying cultural theory to world literature, sharpening my critical and analytical skills, doing research and writing essays (form a hypothesis, structure an argument and build an essay, reference outside sources), doing research and presenting a paper (forming a hypothesis, structuring an oral presentation; maintaining and sustaining relations with the listeners, giving an overview of sources. All of the skills guarantee, in a large sense, the qualification of a researcher in further comparative literature studies. As a Comparative Literature major, I have realized throughout my learning process the importance of an international and multicultural perspective for the mastery of the multidisciplinary subject. Besides, going abroad offers me a brand-new perspective both for the diverse cultures through being submerged in cultures utterly different from my home culture and for the status quo of the rapidly changing world through gaining an insight into a variety of world affairs from different channels."

Yimeng Man


"Some of the greatest writers and thinkers have walked the campus of Trinity College Dublin, so studying here was a true honor and a privilege. The Comparative Literature program not only exceeded my expectations but also proved me to never stop questioning and appreciating cultures and societies the world over, and also to never stop reading great literature!"

Sophie Morris


"A once in a lifetime opportunity to be introduced to a rich range of literatures and academic traditions by lecturers from around the world. The Masters of Philosophy in Comparative Literature is about so much more than comparing great works; it enables one to truly gauge to what extent national boundaries can be arbitrary, becoming conscious of how much cultures are in constant dialogue with each other."

Louise Sampagnay


"Studying Comparative Literature at Trinity was a very meaningful experience for me. The MPhil program in Comparative Literature is a perfect transition between the undergraduate study that has just been completed and the career that has not yet begun. The program aims to equip students with a solid theoretical and methodological basis, on which they are able to conduct research effectively and efficiently, comparing texts of various genres and cultural products of different media from an interdisciplinary and intercultural perspective. Meanwhile, I also enjoy the process of exploring how cultures differ from one another through analyzing primary texts from a wide range of languages and epochs, so as to pursue a global vision of literary and cultural study. In addition to the improvement of academic competence, the program also helps students to get themselves qualified for the employment of future jobs. Indispensable skills such as academic writing skills, critical analytical skills and communication skills will put one in demand at the job market, which can be transferred from academic life to career work. I believe these transferrable skills will enable me to handle my work more confidently and efficiently in the future."

Chenxi Tnag


"Comparative Literature is an interesting course to study. It is comprehensive as we learn not only literature, but also its connection with other subjects. The lecturers and staffs are helpful and inspiring. I’ve had a great time studying Comparative Literature in Trinity College Dublin."

Yifan Zhao