How do different cultures and societies think about the present, remember the past, and imagine the future in and through literature? And how has literature itself been understood and theorised across historical periods and geographical boundaries? In the RMA Comparative Literary Studies we approach literature as a cultural medium from a comparative, theoretical perspective.

student rating of the RMA programme
Keuzegids Master's Selection Guide 2023

A strong focus

At Utrecht we focus on modern and contemporary literature from different language areas. What sets the Utrecht programme apart is a strong focus on literary and cultural history and memory, literary theory and criticism, and world literature. As a student in this programme you will learn to analyse the ways in which literature interacts with (and reflects on) its cultural and social environment against the background of globalisation and new media technologies.

A unique comparative approach

The programme offers a unique comparative approach to literature, which includes comparisons across languages, across media, across time, across forms of knowledge, and across disciplines. The ‘comparative’ approach characteristic for Utrecht is understood to involve comparison between literary phenomena along four principal axes:

  1. Transculturality: how does literature reflect and negotiate cultural differences and operate across national borders?
  2. Mediality: how does literature work as a medium and how does it interact with other media? how are literary phenomena adapted to other media?
  3. Memory: how do stories and cultural forms survive across generations and how are they transformed across time?
  4. Discursivity: how does literature function as a m ode of knowledge production and how does it relate to other forms of knowledge, both scientific and creative?
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Am I eligible?

Comparative Literary Studies is a selective Master’s programme. Do you want to know if you are eligible for this Master?

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Why this programme in Utrecht?

Our students & alumni share their experiences with the RMA programme with you

International orientation

All core seminars are taught in English, but you will be reading literatures from different language areas (in the original and in translation). In your electives, you will also have the possibility of specialising in one of the other European languages on offer in the department (French, German, Italian, Spanish). In your second year, you will have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad and are strongly encouraged to do so. Roughly half of our students come from outside the Netherlands, and we encourage applications from international candidates.


You will not only learn about recent debates on the specificity of literature; you also will have the opportunity to connect literary studies to interdisciplinary debates in fields such as cultural memory studies, media studies, postcolonial studies, gender studies, animal studies, and disability studies. You are encouraged to think through the links between mediality, textuality, materiality, and representation, and to experiment with different theoretical and methodological approaches to researching a particular topic. For example, in the core course 'Literature in the Postcolony', our students contribute to a growing archive of “cultural maps” with an original research project. You can have a look at the archive

A vibrant research environment

As a student in Comparative Literary studies, you will be taught by internationally active researchers. In the core courses and especially in the Masterclass module and tutorials, you will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in ongoing research projects. You also have the possibility of participating in the many workshops and international conferences we organise at Utrecht University.

Esprit de corps

The Comparative Literary Studies programme has a close-knit community of students and faculty from all over the world. We regularly organise academic and social events, such as the Modern and Contemporary Literature Seminar and the monthly Comp Lit Stammtisch. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet current and former rMA students, visiting scholars, affiliated PhD students and researchers, as well as faculty members, have a drink and socialise. We are a small programme and we place an emphasis on fostering a sense of community. The fact that many of our former students continue to come to our social events attests to the esprit de corps that exists here.

A teaching team with wide-ranging expertise

Our international academic staff have a wide range of expertise in the fields of comparative literature, modern languages, literary theory, media theory, postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, animal studies, disability studies, and cultural memory studies. 

Meet our teaching staff

After graduation

Comparative Literary Studies prepares you for a range of different careers, both academic and non-academic, that require advanced research skills along with expertise in the fields of literary and cultural analysis. 

More on career prospects

The small seminar groups in which the courses are taught have also made it possible to have lively discussions in class and to develop a friendly and close-knit intellectual community within our cohort.

Key facts

Literary Studies (research)
Language of instruction: 
Mode of study: 
Study duration: 
2 years
Tuition fees: 
Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee, full-time) 2024-2025: € 2,530

Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee) 2024-2025: € 20,043

More information about fees
Croho code: 
Accredited by the NVAO
Graduate school: 
School of Humanities