London Experience

image of London

Villanova University, College of Liberal Arts and Science, London, England

This spring-semester program is designed for students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program combines small academic seminars taught by a faculty member from Villanova’s distinguished English Department with classes offered at a leading British university, Queen Mary University of London.


The Villanova London Experience offers versatile coursework  to address both the academic interests and curricular needs of students with major and/or minors in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students who will be sophomores and juniors in 2018-19 are invited to apply.

Villanova Courses

The two Villanova courses are Writing/London (offered as an English elective or as ENG 1975, the required Core Literature and Writing Seminar), and Shakespeare in London: From the Globe to Virtual Reality (ENG 3250).

Taught by Dr. Lauren Shohet, Professor of English, both courses draw on the extraordinary resources of London. As a 2016 student in the program said, “We use the whole city as our classroom.”


Writing/London - ENG 1975 or ENG Elective*

In this course (which can fulfill the CLAWS requirement or count as an upper-level elective), we will explore widely ranging representations of London and create some of our own. Our focus will be on ways that different forms -- novels, poems, paintings, films, photographs -- give artists ways to claim a place in environments that are new, unknown, unwelcoming, or unreadable. How can art make habitable places out of abstract spaces? How do paintings or stories negotiate immigrants’ passages from “elsewhere” to “here,” and how do artists think about what remains the same and what is transformed within themselves and their art? Novels will include Virginia Woolf’s Post-World-War-I Mrs Dalloway, Andrea Levy’s Small Island (a tale of Jamaican immigrants during and after World War II), Alan Hollinghurst’s Thatcher-era Line of Beauty, and Kamila Shamshie’s 2017 Antigone adaptation Home Fire (about a second-generation immigrant London family in the era of global jihad). We will read London poems by natives, visitors, and immigrants. We’ll study the films My Beautiful Laundrette84 Charing Cross Road, and Kind Hearts and Coronets. We’ll consider both painting and the activity of collecting artworks as a way to engage, transform, or escape place. We will explore maps and photographs, thinking about how their choices of subject, layout, and code shape their reception. Assignments will include both analytic papers and short creative projects.

*For students who have already taken ENG1975, this course will count as an English elective or Free Elective.

Shakespeare - English 3250 

Visitors today come from around the world to London to see the plays of William Shakespeare. They did in Shakespeare’s day as well. Four hundred years ago, the London theater was wildly popular entertainment, where working people who had splurged for standing-room entry would heckle comic improvisors while snacking on hazelnuts. Today, Shakespeare inspires a high-culture hush, with students studying footnotes to follow the intricate language.

In this class, we’ll think about the Shakespearean theater in Shakespeare’s time, in ours, and in between. With the abundance of enthralling performances on offer in London, we can begin to understand why people flocked to London theater the way we binge-watch Netflix series. In the finer grain, we will explore how the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries shaped ideas we have inherited about love, gender, social order, justice, politics, humanity, and the natural world. We’ll develop techniques to unpack language that can be challenging for modern students. We will explore uses of Shakespeare in nineteenth-century factory life and in twentieth-century prisons. Considering similarities and differences in how these issues worked in Shakespeare’s day and in ours, we also will compare and contrast ways that American, British, and other cultures think of “Shakespeare.”

The selection of plays is anchored by performances we will attend. It will be supplemented by a study of film adaptations, historical theatrical sites, and a wide variety of contexts (prisons, stock exchanges, shipping wharves, palaces) in Tudor-Stuart London. We will visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, see plays in venues ranging from re-created Renaissance theaters to virtual-reality immersive spaces, and will explore how Shakespearean plays have been deployed in historical moments from the 1603 coup attempt against Queen Elizabeth, to Winston Churchill in World War II, to contemporary debates about Brexit.

Elective Courses

You will select your remaining three courses from a variety of options taught at Queen Mary University of London. You can choose from courses on a wide array of topics including (but not limited to) literature, communications, film, history, politics, international relations, sociology, geography and art history.

You can browse possible course options (referred to as modules) through the QMUL Module Directory. Be sure to select Semester 2 and Associates 'Yes' to filter those classes that will be available to you in the spring semester. QMUL offers classes at three main levels to visiting students: Level 4, Level 5, and Level 6. Level 4 classes typically have no pre-requisites, while Level 6 classes are considered higher level classes and may require pre-requisites. 

Modules with assessment noted as 100% coursework do not have a final exam to sit, which means that students can leave London at the conclusion of the Villanova academic program. There are over 60 possible modules that are available to students with no final exam. Those modules will be assessed through coursework only. For a sample of available modules click here. Villanova cannot guarantee enrollment in any of these modules.  Enrollment will be confirmed prior to departure. 

Students who enroll in modules with a final exam will need to plan to stay in London through early June.  Exam timetables are released in March. Additional subjects (such as psychology, economics, computer science, math, and biology) and an even wider range of course options are available to students who remain through finals period. 

Images of London


Students will live in Queen Mary University of London accommodation on campus, the trendy East End of London, alongside British and other international students. All rooms are fully furnished and specially designed for the student lifestyle. No meal plan is included but students will have access to a kitchen with modern cooking facilities.  Additional information on housing can be found on the QMUL website. 

Queen Mary Housing

Student Life

Throughout the semester, co-curricular activities will guide your exploration of London and beyond. Through Queen Mary University of London Student Union you’ll have access to clubs, fitness centers, sports activities, musical ensembles, theater groups, and other student societies.

The Villanova program will also coordinate activites, events and excursions that use London and the greater Southeast of England as a classroom. 

Queen Mary

Spring 2019 Calendar (anticipated - do not book travel based on these dates) 

Arrive in London: January 2
Orientation: January 2-6
QMUL Classes Begin: January 7
Villanova Classes Run: February 25 through May 10
Villanova Spring Break: April 13 through April 22
Queen Mary Exam Period: April 29-June 7
Depart London: 
May 11, 2019* through June 8, 2018*

*Students enrolled in QMUL coursework that requires an in-person exam may need to stay in London through the entire exam period which ends on June 7, 2019.  Exam schedules are released in March 2019. All students must stay through the conclusion of the Villanova academic program on May 17.

As with all study abroad programs, participants will be charged regular Villanova tuition for the semester abroad. Most Financial Aid applies and can travel with a student abroad. Room costs of $3500 will be charged to the Villanova student account making the cost of this semester abroad similar to a semester on campus.  Meals and other estimated anticipated personal expenses are outlined below. Actual expenses will vary based on personal spending habits. Scholarships are available, please discuss with your OEA advisor. 

Cost Worksheet
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Downloadable Cost Worksheet


Villanova University has the right to make cancellations, substitutions, or changes in case of emergency or changed conditions, or in the interest of the program.

Rolling deadline: 10/15/18

Students will apply through both Villanova and Queen Mary University of London to confirm their participation in this program. Final admission decisions are made by Queen Mary University of London.


2019 Faculty Leader: Dr. Lauren Shohet

Dr. Lauren Shohet

Dr. Lauren Shohet is Professor of English at Villanova University. Her teaching and research interests include early-modern poetry and drama (especially in England, and especially Shakespeare, Milton, and women writers); adaptation studies, the history of material texts, genre studies, ecocriticism, and digital humanities. She led Villanova’s London Experience program in its first two years, and has lived abroad in England, France, Germany, and Italy.

Dr. Shohet has published on what ordinary people knew and thought about theater at court (Reading Masques, Oxford University Press, 2010), about ways that poems about the English countryside shape understandings of history (in Poetics Today, 2014), and about ways we see Shakespeare through YouTube, i-pads, and popular movies. Her edited collection Temporality, Genre, and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare: Forms of Time just came out from Bloomsbury-Arden (2018). She edited Othello for the Luminary Shakespeare i-pad apps, and recently signed on as a general editor of the on-line Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World. This year, she is on research leave to work on a book about media change, literary adaptation, and the Garden of Eden (Yet / Once / More: Mediation, Remedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost).      

Having studied harpsichord performance and comparative literature as an undergraduate (Oberlin College BA 1986, B.Mus. 1987), Dr. Shohet received graduate degrees in English from Brown University (MA 1992, Ph.D. 1995). Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Shakespeare Association of America, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, the Bogliasco Foundation for Humanistic Study, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. She was the first holder of Villanova’s endowed Luckow Family Professorship in English. She loves hiking, finding hidden gardens, and teatime.