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

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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.

In addition to the 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, London as Literature. 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: London as Literature

The exact topic of the Global Seminar rotates depending on the Columbia faculty member who is teaching for that particular term. The fall 2017 Global Seminar will be:

ENGLISH OC3815. London Theater 1590-2017. 4 points
Prerequisites: none
Instructor: Jean Howard

Columbia in London students looking at original manuscript at Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, UK

Analyzing manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Kaitlin Hickey, CC'18

This course will examine changes in London theater culture from the late Elizabethan to the contemporary moment. We will explore the types of theaters, acting troupes, dramatic genres, and performance conventions that were popular at particular historical periods, devoting two weeks each to late Elizabethan, late Restoration, Edwardian, 1970s, and contemporary theater. Representative dramatists will include Shakespeare and Jonson, Wycherley and Congreve, Shaw and Maugham, Bond and Brenton, Churchill and Stoppard. The playwrights might change, however, depending on what is playing in London during the term the class meets. As much as possible, we will make use of live performance and theater history research projects to immerse members of the class in the past and present theater culture of London. We will visit The Globe, 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. Students will be introduced to research resources such as the V&A Theater and Performance Archive. Assignments will include a two-page performance review; a five-page research presentation on a key company, theater, production, or actor from the first four periods we will study; a five-page critical paper; and a weekly 500-word blog post on “My Life with London Theater.” This course fulfills an English major requirement. This course is open to non-majors.

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 Monday 1-3 p.m. Course excursions occur Monday 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 Monday afternoon. Course excursions occur Monday evening and/or Wednesday afternoon/evening.

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

Jean Howard (Fall 2017 Faculty Director, Instructor for London Theater 1590-2017)

Jean Howard is the George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities in Columbia’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. Professor Howard began teaching at Syracuse in 1975, where she received the first University-wide Wasserstrom Prize for excellence as teacher and mentor of graduate students; she has also received Guggenheim, NEH, Mellon, Folger, Huntington, and Newberry Library Fellowships. In 2010 she gave the Columbia University Schoff Memorial Lectures on 'Staging History: Imagining the Nation' on playwrights William Shakespeare, Tony Kushner, and Caryl Churchill. Her teaching interests include Shakespeare, Tudor and Stuart drama, Early Modern poetry, modern drama, feminist and Marxist theory, and the history of feminism. Prof. Howard is on the editorial board of Shakespeare Studies and Renaissance Drama. She has published essays on Shakespeare, Pope, Ford, Heywood, Dekker, Marston, and Jonson, as well as on aspects of contemporary critical theory including new historicism, Marxism, and issues in feminism. Her books include Shakespeare's Art of Orchestration (1984); Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology, edited with Marion O'Connor (1987); The Stage and Struggle in Early Modern England (1994); with Phyllis Rackin, Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare's English Histories (1997); Marxist Shakespeares, edited with Scott Shershow (2000); and four generically organized Companions to Shakespeare, edited with Richard Dutton (2001). She is a co-editor of The Norton Shakespeare (2nd ed. 2007) and General Editor of the Bedford Contextual Editions of Shakespeare. A recent book, Theater of a City: The Places of London Comedy 1598-1642 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), won the Barnard Hewitt award for Outstanding Theater History for 2008. She has just published, with Crystal Bartolovich, a monograph on Shakespeare and Marx in the Great Shakespeareans series for Continuum Press (2012) and is currently completing a book entitled Staging History that uses Shakespeare's history plays as a starting point for considering Tony Kushner and Caryl Churchill's use of history in framing debates about current political issues. A book on early modern tragedy is in the works. From 1996 to 1999 Professor Howard directed the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia; in 1999-2000 she was President of the Shakespeare Association of America; from 2004-2007 she served as Columbia's first Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives; and from 2008-2011 she was Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Currently, as a Trustee Emerita of Brown University, she chairs the Brown University President's Diversity Advisory Council and serves on the Advisory Board of the Pembroke Center; she is also a Senator of Phi Beta Kappa.

Danielle Drees (Fall 2017 Program & Teaching Assistant)

Danielle is a doctoral candidate in Theatre at Columbia University and has previously taught in the Columbia University Writing Program and at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her research explores the relationship between contemporary performance, political economy, and feminist theory. Danielle has previously published on the immersive theatre production Sleep No More, and her dissertation will focus on performances of sleep in modern British drama.

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 2017

Financing Your Studies in London

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

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