Comparative Literature and 20th Century Political History

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Olga Sobolev TW3 6.01A and Dr Angus Wrenn TW3 6.01A


Available as an outside option to all undergraduate and General Course students. Students can take this course in any year of their studies following approval from the teacher responsible and subject to their own programme regulations.


Although an A-level pass or equivalent in Literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement (especially for General Course Students).

Course content

Comparative literature of the twentieth century leading up to and including the Cold War. (a) Study of major authors (prose, poetry and drama, in English translation where relevant) on both sides of the Iron Curtain with a focus on the recurrent cultural themes: Fabianism; Utopia/Dystopia; Socialist Realism/Art with a Social Function; Cold War (b) Use of video-recording related to the texts (c) Several related trips to galleries and theatre productions during the year; (d) Students encouraged to draw upon background in their main discipline, and to read widely.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Two hours per week, featuring (a) Lectures on a range of authors and themes; (b) classes including students' presentations; (c) revision workshops; (d) tutorials. Structured activities during the reading week

Formative coursework

Two essays per year; presentations.

Indicative reading

H. G. Wells The Time Machine; A. Huxley Brave New World; G.B. Shaw Annajanska the Bolshevik Empress; E. Zamyatin We; G. Orwell Animal Farm & 1984; M. Bulgakov The Heart of a Dog; W. H. Auden poems; V. Mayakovsky poems; A. Solzhenitsyn A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; A. Makine A Life's Music; M. Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Ian Fleming From Russia with Love; T. Stoppard Professional Foul; S. Dovlatov The Suitcase; B. Chatwin Utz.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 29.8
2:1 64.9
2:2 3.5
Third 0
Fail 1.8

Key facts

Department: Language Studies

Total students 2016/17: 24

Average class size 2016/17: 8

Capped 2016/17: Yes (24)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 79%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)