Modern Languages and Joint Schools

BA Hons Modern Languages (and joint school degrees)

Average intake at Wadham: 15 (including joint schools)

Studying Modern Languages provides both practical training in written and spoken language and an extensive introduction to literature and thought written in European languages. As well as learning to write and speak the language(s) fluently, you can study a broad range of literature, or focus your studies on any period from the medieval to the present day.

Course Homepage

Modern Languages at Oxford

The Courses

BA (Hons) Modern Languages
BA (Hons) Modern Languages and Linguistics
BA (Hons) English and Modern Languages
BA (Hons) History and Modern Languages
BA (Hons) Classics and Modern Languages
BA (Hons) Philosophy and Modern Languages
BA (Hons) European and Middle Eastern Languages

Modern Languages at Wadham

Wadham is unusually fortunate in having five Fellows in Modern Languages (providing tuition and support in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian). We also have a number of regular lecturers, including in Italian, Modern Greek, and Linguistics, and lectors in French and German – native speakers attached to the College who assist with language teaching and help undergraduates to prepare for the oral examination taken in the final year. While all the Modern Languages tutors have research interests of their own, undergraduates are encouraged to make their own choices, from a wide-ranging list, of topics they want to pursue for their final examinations. The study of literature and ideas has remained the core of the Oxford Modern Languages course. Undergraduates can also expect to have at least one language exercise per week in each language they are studying, as well as their tutorials on literary topics.

Candidates who have done only one language at school, or want to drop one of the languages they have been learning, have various options including, of course, the joint schools mentioned above. If their chosen language is French, German, Russian or Spanish they may choose to study this language on its own, taking a broader course which, in the first year, will include French, German, Russian or Spanish cinema, French or German thought, French literary theory, German or Spanish medieval literature, the Spanish short story, Polish and Slavonic Philology. Alternatively, and for other languages, they may take the first public examination in that language and linguistics. At Wadham such candidates are also encouraged to consider starting a fresh language such as German, Czech (with Slovak), Italian, Russian, Portuguese or Modern Greek.

Undergraduates studying Modern Languages or a joint school with Modern Languages register for a four-year course, which incorporates a year abroad. Some undergraduates attend university or organise work placements for this year, but most prefer to take teaching posts abroad for nine months, since such jobs offer good pay, relatively light duties with long holidays, and a friendly work environment in which there are plenty of opportunities to meet people and speak the foreign language.

Dr Emily McLaughlin
Dr Alessandra Aloisi
Lucy-Anne Katgely
Dr Michaël Abecassis
Prof Olivia Vázquez-Medina
Prof Carolin Duttlinger
Prof Cláudia Pazos Alonso
Olivia Glaze
Prof Philip Bullock

A Student's Perspective

Sarah, 2nd Year Linguist

I’m currently in my second year studying French and Spanish at Wadham. I always enjoyed languages at school so, with a bit of encouragement from my teachers, I decided to apply to Oxford – and I’m so glad I gave it a go.

The Modern Languages course at Oxford is slightly different from those at other universities as it is slightly more focussed on the literature of the languages you are studying. For French and Spanish, about half of the course is literature-based, which at first struck me as quite a scary prospect as I hadn’t read much in either language before. However, I’ve found it a really enjoyable and rewarding way of studying the languages, as you get to explore historical and cultural themes through the books you read. In first year, the course offers you a kind of broad introduction to the literature of the languages, then in second year you have the opportunity to pick from a range of modules according to your own personal interests. For example, this year I’m going to be doing a whole paper on Spanish American literature, including authors such as Borges and García Márquez, which I’m very excited about. It’s not all literature though – you also have translation, grammar and conversation classes in small groups with tutors who are experts in their fields. After just one year of these classes, I can’t believe how much I’ve improved.

Another really exciting aspect of the modern languages course is the year abroad, when you can go and study in any country where your languages are spoken. Past students for my course have gone everywhere from Argentina to Asturias for Spanish, and from the Seychelles to Strasbourg for French, and have all come back speaking the language like a native.

I’m particularly enjoying studying at Wadham because the relaxed, accepting atmosphere is so different from some of the stuffy, snobby Oxford stereotypes that I’d heard about before applying. The college also has excellent facilities, including a 24 hour library with a great Modern Languages section, and brilliant tutors who work you hard but are always very understanding and happy to help if you are struggling with your work.