MRes Modern Languages

This programme provides graduates with an outstanding opportunity to further both research and foreign language skills through a tailored programme which is unique in the UK. 

Graduates will carry out a research project of their choice, under the supervision of an expert, and follow 3 taught modules: (1) research skills; (2) graduate-level language skills (either specialist academic skills in their main foreign language or advanced reading skills in a new language); (3) a module exploring key moments in modern European culture through concepts of ‘radicalism’ and counter-culture.

Applications for this programme are currently closed.

Professor Francis Lough

Professor Francis Lough

“Birmingham has a very long standing tradition of modern languages, with superb facilities, a fantastic campus and a very vibrant department of modern languages. Each of the individual language sections (Arabic, French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian) has its own particular identity while colleagues also work closely across languages in different areas of teaching and research.”

The MRes programme focuses on research and, as such, is broken down into three modules, which focus on research skills, language acquisition, and key moments in the history of modern European culture.

  • Cultural and Gender Studies Research Methodologies (20 Credits)
  • Intellectual Subversives: Culture, Counter-Culture and Radical Change, from the Late 18th Century to the Digital Age (20 Credits)

And either:

  • Reading a Language (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish) for Researchers (20 Credits)


  • Academic Writing in Another Language (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish) (20 Credits)

This is followed by a dissertation, which is the result of a supervised independent research project undertaken in any area of research which falls within the very wide range of expertise of staff across all of the languages.

The University of Birmingham’s Modern Languages department has detailed knowledge across the full range of modern European culture, but particular strengths lie in:

  • Memory and Exile
  • Translation and Language Studies
  • Sexuality and Gender Studies
  • Film and Media Studies
  • Modernity and Modernism
  • Post-Colonial Studies
  • Social and Political Quantitative Studies
  • Text Production: Past and Present

Why study this course

  • The MRes in Modern Languages provides an excellent preparation both for further study at doctoral level and for graduates seeking to enhance their employment prospects through the acquisition of an advanced reading knowledge of a new language and the enhancement of transferable skills including: advanced theoretically informed analysis of a broad range of cultural production, graduate-level language acquisition, research skills using traditional and on-line sources, communication at a very high level both orally and in writing, time-management, organisation.
  • Postgraduate students in Modern Languages are fully supported to achieve their goals. They have access to excellent training facilities and opportunities to participate in research seminars  and other activities as a means of developing their confidence as researchers and acquiring a broad range skills and knowledge
  • The department celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 2014 results  75% of research at the University of Birmingham for Modern Languages and Linguistics was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’ or  rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.


The MRes programme focuses on research and, as such, is broken down into three modules, which focus on research skills, language acquisition, and key moments in the history of modern European culture. This is followed by a dissertation, which is the result of a supervised independent research project undertaken in any area of research which falls within the very wide range of expertise of staff across all of the languages.

Cultural and Gender Studies Research Methodologies (20 Credits)

This module develops the key skills needed to plan, execute and report research. After reviewing approaches to researching the literature and discussing the nature of a current area of research, the key elements of a research protocol are introduced, covering issues such as the nature and role of a hypothesis, experimental design, importance of clear deliverables and the use of project planning charts. In this context the planning of research projects and trials is treated separately and the consequences of poor planning are discussed. Statistical approaches for the analysis of data are introduced, with emphasis on identifying the levels of significance of differences in data. This material is then used as a basis for introducing the critical elements of reporting the results of results. The structure and role of journal papers and research theses are discussed and student’s skills in producing and delivering research focused presentations developed.

Intellectual Subversives: Culture, Counter-Culture and Radical Change, from the Late 18th Century to the Digital Age (20 Credits)

This module will present a broad intellectual framework within which you will be able to locate and better understand your particular area of study, and deepen your understanding of intellectual traditions in Europe while encouraging you to reflect on the impact these continue to have today. The core module draws on the research strengths of the department across all of the languages, and is designed to build on the range of experiences and knowledge base that you will bring to the programme from your previous studies.Your study will progress in chronological order and focus on the emergence of ideas which have shaped the modern world from the 19th century to the 21st: the emergence and acceptance of grand narratives in the Enlightenment and Romanticism; cultural and philosophical assaults on God, science and logocentrism; war and conflict; the politics and aesthetics of the European avant-garde; Postmodern cultural production and ‘cognitive mapping’ in a global age; the neo-avant-garde and the return of ‘the real’; hermeneutics and communication in a digital age, cyberpolitics and surveillance technologies.

And either:

Reading a Language (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish) for Researchers (20 Credits)

This module offers you the opportunity to acquire a good reading knowledge of your chosen language, in order help you pursue your research, with a view towards continuing to PhD level. The aim is to provide you with the ability to read academic texts, representative of the research literature in your area of specialism, with the aid of a dictionary. You will be taught by a mixture of tutor-led and workshop sessions, typically alternating between the two. Tutor-led sessions give instruction on the grammatical and lexical features of the language, based on a progressive reading of the prescribed coursebook. In the workshop sessions, you will do exercises, including translation of texts into English, under the guidance of the tutor. You will be able to work on samples of your own material. There are assessments at the end of each semester.


Academic Writing in Another Language (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish) (20 Credits)

This module will provide you with specific subject and discipline-focussed training in academic writing in their main language of study. You will be assigned a tutor who will give advice and supervise your work as you carry out your independent research with the aim of writing an academic article in your chosen language. You will be expected to:

  • Conduct a literature review of key journals in your chosen language
  • Write a proposal for an academic paper on a subject of your choice
  • Research and write a 5,000-word article following the publication conventions appropriate to a specific journal

Your individual supervisions, to be conducted in the foreign language, will provide support in:

  • Identifying key journals
  • Choosing a subject for your article
  • Working with a style sheet
  • Developing an academic writing style


Dissertation (120 Credits)

Building on the skills and understanding built in the taught modules, this module is deigned to deepen your understanding of intellectual traditions in Europe, and to reflect on the impact these continue to have in their own field today.

The research topic for your dissertation is chosen by you. Throughout the year, you will be have regular supervision with a tutor who will offer help and guidance in the writing of the dissertation. 

This will result in the completion of a 20,000 word thesis.

Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home/EU: £4,195 full-time; £2,098 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

The Modern Languages MRes programme welcomes applicants from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, but a good Honours degree in a Modern Language or other Humanities subject area with, where appropriate, competence in the relevant foreign language equivalent to degree level standard is required.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Applications for this programme are currently closed. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss alternative options, please contact

The MRes is offered by the University's lively, progressive and broad-based Department of Modern Languages, which has over 30 research active staff working in numerous world and regional languages, across periods from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Students on the MRes can take advantage of the extensive range of research seminars and events run annually with leading visiting speakers, and have opportunities to gain experience delivering and organising Postgraduate research presentations through various groups including the School Postgraduate Forum,  the Sexuality and Gender Studies Forum (ROLES), and connections with the University's Graduate Centre for Europe.

The overall aim of the MRes is to ensure that, at the end of the programme, you have:

  • Extended your language skills either through the acquisition of an advanced reading level in a new foreign language, or through advanced training in academic writing in a foreign language
  • Gained advanced knowledge and understanding of key critical concepts and debates in critical theory of relevance to the study of modern cultures
  • Pursued an individual line of research in your dissertation

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the lively international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham's Modern Languages postgraduates develop excellent communication skills, whilst cultural awareness and foreign language skills are highly sought after by employers. Postgraduates in Modern Languages also have a range of transferable skills including the ability to gather and interpret information, organisational skills and the ability to work well with others. Such skills can be used in a variety of occupations.

In 2014/15, 100% of Modern Languages postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our language graduates train to become professional linguists such as translators and interpreters. Other graduates enter employment where their language skills may be advantageous but not central to their role - for example, within international organisations or in the travel and hospitality industry - and some go on to teaching or lecturing positions. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Berlitz Language Centre; TransPerfect Global Business Solutions; KPMG; University of Birmingham; University of Cambridge; and University of Oxford.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.