Houses of Parliament in London, UK

Columbia in London

Language of Instruction: English
United Kingdom
Term: Fall

Look into the eye of London by engaging with its literary culture

Program Notifications Sign-Up

Notify me when the application for this program is available

Study major works of English and Anglophone literature in a London context. Learn from Columbia faculty whose work engages the city's literary culture. View London as your classroom through regular outings to urban sites. Experience British university life and pursue your academic interests at the prestigious Queen Mary University of London.

Program Overview

The Columbia University in London Program, under the direction of Columbia's Department of English and Comparative Literature, is in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The program is offered exclusively in the fall term. It is open to Columbia and Barnard undergraduates from all disciplines.

Night view of London Eye in London, UK

London Eye

One faculty member from Columbia's English and Comparative Literature department leads the program. That faculty member crafts and teaches a version of the program's Global Seminar, London as Literature, that draws upon their areas of expertise. The Global Seminar gives you the opportunity to study and contextualize literary texts in their immediate geographical and cultural settings. This allows you not only to deepen your understanding of the works, but also the city itself. The Fall 2018 Global Seminar will also fulfill a Global Core requirement.

In addition to the Columbia-taught Global Seminar, you enroll in two or three QMUL courses. QMUL offers coursework across a broad range of disciplines, including physical and natural sciences, business and management, engineering, humanities, and social sciences.

Eligibility and Application

  • Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student in good academic and disciplinary standing at Columbia University or Barnard College
  • Must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • All qualified students are welcome to apply for the program. Students do not need to major in English and Comparative Literature, but they should demonstrate the motivation to study the topic taught in the global seminar.


Want to apply? Click the “Apply Now” button above. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications.You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Personal Statement
  • Letter of recommendation from someone who has taught you at the university level who can attest to your academic skills
  • Official transcript(s)


A full course load for the Columbia University in London Program is 16 points, which is equal to approximately four courses. All students are required to enroll in the Columbia Global Seminar. To complete your academic program, you select courses from Queen Mary University of London's (QMUL) expansive course offerings.

With respect to your QMUL coursework, you take a total of 45 QMUL credits. This usually means you will enroll in three QMUL courses as most are worth 15 QMUL credits. Fifteen QMUL credits are the equivalent of four Columbia points.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

Columbia Global Seminar

The exact topic of the Global Seminar rotates depending on the Columbia faculty member who is teaching for that particular term. The fall 2018 Global Seminar will be:

ENGLISH OC3815. London in Postcolonial Fiction: "We are here, because you were there." 4 points
Prerequisites: none
Instructor: Jennifer Wenzel

This course will consider London as a postcolonial metropolis and former seat of empire and the transatlantic slave trade. Most of our course texts will be novels by writers from the West Indies, Africa, and South Asia, who made London their home and the setting of their work.

Taking London as a focus for postcolonial fiction allows us to consider the mid-twentieth century history of decolonization from the vantage point of the former imperial center. Some of the writers we'll read arrived in London between 1948 and 1981 -- that is, between two iterations of the British Nationality Act, the first of which opened British citizenship to colonial subjects, and the second of which consolidated several restrictions on immigration from the former colonies that had been imposed in the 1960s and 70s. "Postcolonial London" has thus been shaped by the history of empire, these waves of migration, and resistance to them. We'll consider the importance of the "Windrush generation" -- writers from the West Indies (e.g. George Lamming, Sam Selvon, Beryl Gilroy) who began to arrive in 1948, to the tradition of "Black British" writing, as well as the work of later arrivals and second-generation writers.

Although the primary focus of the course will be on prose fiction, we'll read selections of poetry that also give voice to postcolonial London (e.g. Linton Kwesi Johnson or Warsan Shire).

We'll also look back to accounts of London written during London's long imperial heyday, by Olaudah Equiano in the late 18th century, Solomon T. Plaatje in the 1910s, or C.L.R. James in the early 1930s. These earlier accounts by colonized subjects will complement our in situ consideration of London as both imperial center and postcolonial metropolis, through visits to sites like Lancaster House and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Kew Gardens, Greenwich Observatory, Museum of London Docklands, the Imperial War Museum, the British Museum, the British Library and the Royal Geographic Society, as well as relevant cultural programming to be held in Fall 2018.

Possible course authors include:

Olaudah Equiano, CLR James, Jamaica Kincaid, George Lamming, Sam Selvon, Andrea Levy, Stuart Hall, Buchi Emecheta, Amitav Ghosh, Beryl Gilroy, Hanif Kureishi, Salman Rushdie, Kamila Shamsie, Diran Adebayo, Paul Gilroy, Zadie Smith, Bernardine Evaristo, Monica Ali, Warsan Shire.

This course is open to non-majors and fulfills a Global Core requirement.

Queen Mary University of London Course offerings

A unique feature of this innovative program is the opportunity to experience the British university system. While at Queen Mary University of London, you will study alongside matriculated QMUL students. To explore QMUL's module offerings (i.e. course offerings), please visit the QMUL Directory of Modules.

QMUL offers coursework in the following subject areas:

Store fronts in London, UK

London storefronts

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Biological and Chemical Sciences (Chemistry, Environment, psychology, genetics, biochemistry)
  • Computer Science (database systems and applications, graphics, multimedia)
  • Economics (finance, management, statistics and mathematics)
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Engineering and Materials (Aerospace, Mechanical, Medical, Sustainable Energy, Materials, Design and Innovation)
  • English
  • Drama (text and performance based modules)
  • Film and Communications (includes scriptwriting and production)
  • Geography (Environment and human geography)
  • History (includes Art and Architectural History)
  • International Relations
  • Languages Learning Unit (includes French, German, Japanese, Italian)
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Hispanic Studies, Art and Architectural History, European Literature and Cultural Studies, Latin American Literature and Cultural studies, Linguistics)
  • Physics (includes Astronomy and Astrophysics)
  • Politics (includes international relations and globalization)
  • Psychology

Note: Columbia cannot provide credit for any courses taken at professional schools.

Academic Schedule

The Columbia Global Seminar is held on Tuesday 1-3 p.m. Course excursions occur Tuesday evening and/or Wednesday afternoon/evening. Timetables for local university courses are scheduled by Queen Mary University of London.

Life in London


Students live in on-campus Queen Mary University of London housing located on campus with other full degree or international students. Accommodations are self-catered apartments, or flats, suited for 4-10 students. Students have single bedrooms with a shared kitchen and dining-area.


Students are responsible for their own meals. You can purchase food at nearby grocery stores and cook for yourself. You can also eat in the many local restaurants and cafes, some of which are on Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) campus. QMUL offers a meal plan option for breakfast and dinner during semester week days.


Ticket for Macbeth performance with the Globe Theater in the background

Ticket for Macbeth at The Globe Theater

Kirby Eckels, BC'18

The Columbia Global Seminar includes guided field trips designed to provide a deeper understanding of the readings and classroom discussions. Trips may include the Globe Theater, the Wanamaker, and the Rose excavation, the Inigo Jones Banqueting House, the Royal Court and the National Theaters, with a field trip to the Royal Shakespeare Company theaters in Stratford-upon-Avon. The QMUL Global Opportunities Office organizes events and activities throughout the semester that take place both within and outside of London. Past events included walking tours, football (soccer) matches, and visits to museums and galleries.

You are encouraged to explore and participate in the more than 60 clubs, societies, and volunteer opportunities offered through the QMUL Student Union. Joining a club is a great way to meet local students and discover all London has to offer!

Daily Living and Schedule

The daily schedule will vary person to person, depending on the classes you take. The Columbia Global Seminar meets Tuesdays from 1 -3pm. Course excursions occur on Wednesday afternoon/evening or other evenings as scheduled.

The U.K. university system differs from the U.S. university system in that modules (e.g. classes) may meet fewer times a week and/or for fewer hours. However, you are expected to supplement your learning with independent reading and research in your free time.


Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is located in the Mile End neighborhood of East London, a vibrant and desirable location for the city's growing and diverse population of young professionals and students. The campus, situated in the heart of London, is close to local landmarks such as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Tower Bridge, and Brick Lane. The Barbican Center, West End, Parliament, Royal Parks and Palaces, and London's incredible wealth of other cultural and historical attractions, are short journeys away by bike, bus, or Tube. When you’re in need of greenery, the campus’ location along the Regent Canal between Victoria and Mile End parks provides the perfect setting.

Canal alongside Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London has a long and robust history as an institution of higher learning. It was founded in 1887 as the People’s Palace, a philanthropic center providing educational opportunities to east Londoners. A rising star among the UK’s Russell Group of research-centered universities, QMUL compares well with Columbia in its curricular structure and in its identity as an international university in an historic global city. Fully 20% of QMUL’s students come from 125 countries outside the UK. QMUL awards degrees at the undergraduate, master, and doctoral levels.


St Paul's Cathedral in London, UK

St. Paul's Cathedral

Kirby Eckels, BC'18

Jennifer Wenzel (Fall 2018 Faculty Director, Instructor for London in Postcolonial Fiction)

Jennifer Wenzel is a literary critic jointly appointed in English and Comparative Literature and MESAAS. She specializes in postcolonial literature and theory. Previous courses taught at Columbia include "Global Bestsellers," "The Novel in Africa," "Literature and Cultures of Struggle in South Africa," "Literature and Oil," and "The Nature of Imperialism."

She completed a Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas at Austin in 1998, with a specialization in Ethnic and Third World Literatures. Her dissertation was a comparative study of contests over land in the work of South African novelist J.M. Coetzee and Bengali writer and activist Mahasweta Devi. From 2003-2014, she taught in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, where she was also affiliated with the Department of Afro-American and African Studies and the Center for South Asian Studies. She has held fellowships from ACLS, FLAS, Mellon, NEH, and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University.

Her book, Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond (Chicago and KwaZulu-Natal, 2009), which examines the literary and cultural afterlives of the 1856-57 Xhosa cattle killing, was awarded the Perkins Prize by the International Society for the Study of Narrative. Additional work on the politics of memory and decolonization appears in "Remembering the Past's Future: Anti-Imperialist Nostalgia and Some Versions of The Third World" (Cultural Critique, 2006), an essay about the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

Her recent work engages the environmental humanities and energy studies. Her article, "Petro-Magic-Realism: Towards a Political Economy of Nigerian Literature" (Postcolonial Studies 2006), theorizes the relationships among fossil fuels, narrative form, and the publishing industry. She is the co-editor (with Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger) of Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment(Fordham 2017), a compendium of keywords related to energy, written by scholars, artists, and activists from across the humanities and social science disciplines and around the world.

She is currently at work on two book projects: "Reading for the Planet: World Literature and Environmental Crisis" and "The Fossil-Fueled Imagination: How (and Why) to Read for Energy."

Bernadette Myers (Fall 2018 Program & Teaching Assistant)

Bernadette Myers is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, where she researches early modern drama, ecocritical theory and environmental history. Her dissertation, titled Urban Ecology and the Early Modern English Stage, investigates how the resources problems plaguing a rapidly-expanding London impacted the performance practices and generic innovations of early modern playwrights, including William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton. Bernadette graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kansas with B.A. English and Italian in 2013. While completing her degree, she participated in a year-long exchange at the University of Bologna in Italy and she also spent a summer studying in literature and art history in London.

Financial Considerations

Many students use a combination of federal student aid and home school grants to fund their undergraduate studies. Many, if not most, of these funds are applicable to studying abroad for a semester or academic year. The costs of studying abroad during the semester or academic year are frequently comparable to those of staying on campus.

All students should work with their home school financial aid office to determine what aid is available for studying abroad.

Program Costs: Fall 2018

Financing Your Studies in London

For more information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Resources for Accepted Students

Fact Sheet

Language of Instruction:
United Kingdom

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Admissions Decision Date: 
Friday, March 31, 2017
Program Dates: 
Saturday, September 16, 2017 to Friday, December 15, 2017
Application Deadline: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Admissions Decision Date: 
Friday, March 30, 2018
Program Dates: 
Sunday, September 16, 2018 to Friday, December 14, 2018
Arrival starts on 9/15/18 and ends on 9/16/18