London Experience

image of London

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

This spring-semester program is designed for sophomore students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. An eighteen-week overseas study experience, the program combines small academic seminars taught by a faculty member from Villanova’s distinguished English Department with classes offered by the Arcadia University London Centre and our partner institutions, Queen Mary University, Goldsmiths University of London, and City University.  Second semester freshman may be considered on a case-by-case basis.


The Villanova London Experience is designed to provide versatile coursework  intended to fulfill both the academic interests and curriculum needs of students with major and/or minors in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Core Courses:

While in London, you will have the unique opportunity to complete Villanova’s Core Literature and Writing Seminar (ENG1975), as well as a creative writing course (ENG2003) that will focus on memoir, poetry, flash fiction, and flash creative non-fiction. Both courses will be taught by a Villanova professor, Dr. Lisa Sewell, and are linked to London’s extraordinary resources via individualized co-curricular activities. As one spring 2016 student put it, “We use the whole city as our classroom.”

Literary London: Crises and Transformations -- ENG 1975 or *UL ENG Elective

The city of London has famously endured fire, plague, wars, pollution, rampant crime, acts of terror, and social upheaval, but it has survived, continuing to change, grow and even thrive. At least part of what we know about these events, and about the city and people who lived through them comes from works of literature. This course will focus on literature written during roughly the last 100 years, charting the particular crises of modernity: war, the collapse of the British Empire, social upheaval and immigration from former colonies. We will read stories, poems, novels, essays and plays, including works by Oscar Wilde, Jean Rhys, TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Angela Carter, Zadie Smith, and Alex Wheatle. Our goal will be to consider how each writer’s fictional dream, poetic epiphany, or eye-witness account can offer insight into the political, cultural, social, economic and aesthetic forces that have shaped the modern and contemporary city and its inhabitants. We will also use the city—its streets, buildings, parks and institutions—as a supplemental text, attending readings and performances, and following our authors (or their characters) as they visit institutions like the Victoria and Albert and the British Library, or journey through places like Hampstead Heath, the West End, Regents Park and neighborhoods like Brixton.

This course will also help you improve and expand your reading, writing and critical thinking skills—tools that you will use throughout your college career. Through class discussion you will learn to think on your feet, work together to analyze and understand the words we read, and though our writing assignments, you will further develop your ability to support your claims and to write, clear, concise essays that use both textual evidence and the imagination to communicate effectively.

*For students who have already taken ENG1975, this course will count as an upper level English elective.

Exploring the City: On Foot, In Dreams and In Writing -- ENG 2003

This course will give you the chance to explore your own creative impulses, interests and ideas in a formal and directed way. The key to becoming a writer is learning the craft, and developing good habits and a dedication to your writing practice. This class will help you develop those habits and make that commitment, introducing the fundamentals of craft and form, demonstrating how to shape a narrative, poem or essay, and providing writing prompts and exercises to help you free up your imagination and discover your subject. A good deal of our time will be devoted to reading and learning from travelogues, memoirs, diaries journals, and essays, by canonical figures like Daniel Defoe and Samuel Pepys, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf, but also more contemporary authors like Helen Fielding, Nick Hornby, and Iain Sinclair. Through our reading and our own forays into the city, we will explore how various subjects like the river, urban and recreational spaces, solitude and crowding, ethnic identity and particular districts function in London narratives and can inspire our own. At the end of the course you will have a portfolio of polished work, a record of your time in London. Through our writing workshops, you will also have the opportunity to bond with your peers as you discover the value of revision and learn to be discerning and supportive readers of each other’s work.

Elective Courses:

You will select your remaining three courses from a variety of options taught at the Arcadia University London Centre and one of our partner universities in London. You can choose from courses on a wide array of topics including (but not limited to) literature, communications, history, politics, sociology, and art history.

Images of London


As a student in the program, you stay in centrally located and fully renovated residence halls in appealing London neighborhoods.  All rooms are fully furnished and specially designed for the student lifestyle, and students have access to a kitchen with modern cooking facilities.  From the residence halls, you take public transportation to your classes and to the Arcadia University London Centre.  The Centre is in the vibrant and historic Bloomsbury neighborhood, which will be our academic base.  


London underground

Student Life

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

Villanova University students will also be invited to sign up for the subsidized events offered by the Arcadia London Center during the spring semester.

Spring 2018 anticipated dates 

Depart US early January, 2018
Depart London early May, 2018

As participants on this special CLAS program, students will be charged regular VU tuition. Most Financial Aid applies and can travel with a student abroad. Unlike other semester abroad opportunities, room costs are included in the regular VU tuition payment as part of this special program.  Meals and other personal expenses outlined below are also the direct responsibility of the student.

London Experience 2018


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.

Priority acceptance deadline: 4/1/17
Rolling admissions deadline: 9/15/17


2018 Faculty Leader: Dr. Lisa Sewell

Dr. Lisa Sewell

Dr. Lisa Sewell is Professor and Luckow Family Chair of English at Villanova University. From 1998-2008, she directed the annual Villanova literary festival and from 2008-2016 she was co-director of the Gender and Women’s Studies program. Lisa teaches classes in creative writing, especially poetry, contemporary poetry and literature, and gender studies. Her area of specialization is in American literature but she teaches courses with an international range, including the Literary Festival course, which often features writers from Ireland and the UK. She is the author of four books of poetry, including most recently, Impossible Object, which won the Tenth Gate prize from The Word Works Press. She has co-edited two essay collections that focus on twenty-first century North American poetry for Wesleyan University Press, and is currently at work on a third. She has been invited to read her work at universities and reading venues across the country, and is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Leeway Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Before she began teaching, Lisa was a world traveler. She has lived in Israel and Japan, and also spent extensive time in other parts of Asia, as well as England, Europe, Africa, and India. More recently, she has traveled through invitations to prestigious artist residencies, including Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and several international residencies such as the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland. She is currently working on a new collection of poems about endangered ecosystems and endangered species and a mixed-genre memoir.