Best Colleges and Universities in the World for English Literature (British and Commonwealth)
When it comes to studying English literature, there are few better places to do it than the United Kingdom and its former colonies. From Shakespeare to Austen to Naipaul, the British and Commonwealth literary canon is rich and varied, and there are many institutions around the world that offer top-quality programs in the field. Here are five of the very best.
1. University of Oxford, UK
There’s no question that Oxford is one of the greatest universities in the world, and its English faculty is particularly renowned. Students have access to the Bodleian Library, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious collections of books and manuscripts, and can take classes with some of the most esteemed scholars in the field. Oxford’s English program is also distinctive in its emphasis on literary criticism and theory, making it a great choice for students who want to explore the intellectual side of the discipline.
2. University of Cambridge, UK
Like Oxford, Cambridge is one of the UK’s most esteemed universities, and its English program is world-renowned. The faculty is famous for its work in medieval and early modern literature, but also offers courses in contemporary and postcolonial literature. One advantage of studying English at Cambridge is that the university’s colleges are almost all located in the city center, making for a truly immersive academic and cultural experience.
3. University of Toronto, Canada
If you’re looking for a great English program outside the UK, the University of Toronto should be at the top of your list. Located in the vibrant city of Toronto, the university’s English department is one of the largest and most diverse in North America. Its faculty is particularly strong in Canadian literature, which is an important and distinctive part of the Commonwealth literary tradition. Students also have access to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, one of the country’s greatest literary archives.
4. University of Melbourne, Australia
For students looking to study English literature in a sunny, cosmopolitan city, the University of Melbourne is an excellent choice. The faculty is renowned for its work in postcolonial and transnational literature, and the university has a long tradition of supporting Australian writers and poets. Melbourne is also home to a vibrant literary culture, with many bookstores, festivals, and events to keep you engaged with the world of letters outside of the classroom.
5. University of Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa’s literary scene is incredibly rich and diverse, and the University of Cape Town is one of the best places to study it in detail. The university’s English program covers not only South African literature, but also the literatures of other African countries, making it a great choice for students interested in exploring the continent’s diverse cultural traditions. Cape Town itself is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Africa, with a storied literary history of its own.
Whether you’re a fan of the classics or are more interested in contemporary literary trends, these five institutions offer some of the best English programs in the world. From Oxford’s centuries-old traditions to Melbourne’s modern outlook, there’s something for everyone in the world of British and Commonwealth literature.