10 reasons to study languages at Birmingham

We are one of the most forward-thinking and prestigious centres for Modern Languages in the UK. Discover our strengths:

Great teaching

Language learning in the classroom

We have outstanding academic staff. You’ll be taught via innovative teaching methods for both your language teaching and courses on culture. They aim to make you absolutely fluent and develop a thorough understanding of the cultures surrounding those languages. Many of the people that teach you at Birmingham are also authors of important text books. They have travelled internationally to give talks on their subject areas and the award winning language teaching methods they use.

Great teaching helps our students develop to their full academic potential – this year 82% of our BA Modern Languages graduated with first class or upper second class degree results.

Our students give us excellent ratings in the National Student Survey (NSS) - in 2014 98% agreed that staff are good at explaining things and 97% agreed that staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching. 

Superb employability rates

Amongst our BA Modern Languages students who graduated in July 2013, 87% were in work or further study 6 months after graduation – 80% of those were in professional or managerial roles.  You’ll develop your employability skills like writing, communicating, researching, translating and presenting – as well as how to argue your points convincingly which are all key to your future career. Graduates have gained roles as translators, journalists, accountants, fashion designers, publishers, teachers, marketing executives, actors, entrepreneurs - the list is endless. You can undertake work placements in your Year Abroad and you’ll get support from our award-winning Careers Network - including opportunities to apply for funding to support your internships and work placements. 

Broad curriculum

You will benefit from an exceptionally broad Modern Languages curriculum. Choose up to three languages from French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian, as well as all of the languages of the Iberian peninsula: Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Catalan and Galician (you can even start most from scratch).

Alongside language modules, you will have a wealth of topics to choose from covering history, politics, culture, society and so on. Modules can range from Dante to the Berlin Wall; from Renaissance culture and art to contemporary cinema; from racy novels to theories of gender and sexuality; from Hitler to Stalin to Berlusconi; from the Spanish civil war to the Russian Revolution and much more. Discover Goethe, Petrarch, Proust, Cervantes and so many more.

Or take Business or Translation modules, or even a joint honours degree by combining Modern Languages with Music, History, History of Art, Geography, Political Science, International Relations or Maths.

Design your degree and pick modules so that you learn about what interests you most and fuels your curiosity - 92% of students agreed that the course is intellectually stimulating in the most recent National Student Survey.

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Travel opportunities

All our language degrees involve time abroad – whether that’s on the European Cultural Tours or Russian study trip in first year or your third year, when you can choose to study, teach or work abroad. We have links with a huge selection of universities abroad and our students have undertaken teaching or work placements in villages, towns and cities all over the world. If you are studying more than one language, you can spend your year abroad in multiple places. This really gives you the chance to mould your year abroad.

Easy travelling

Birmingham is ideally positioned for Languages students. In your free time you may wish to explore continental Europe (or further afield) to practise your skills and experience another culture first-hand. Birmingham’s large international airport will take you across the world, or you could travel from our own on-campus train station (we are the only university to have our own). You can reach the Eurostar terminal in no time at all - and then it’s easily on to Paris and beyond. This is lots of fun and ideal preparation for your Year Abroad.

Active societies

Join one of our four language student societies – Hispanic, German, Italian and French – or our student magazine The UoB Linguist. This will allow you to develop your language skills outside your teaching, make new friends who share your passion for languages and attend interesting and diverse extra-curricular events.

Great research

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, our Department was graded as being home to world-leading and internationally excellent research. This means that you will be taught by experts in their fields who are conducting first-hand research into areas which others only read about. In addition, we are a Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence and have lively programmes of national and international experts who come to the Department to give lectures and seminars. Over 75% of research in the Department of Modern Languages has been judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. This is the result of the national Research Excellence Framework exercise, which assessed research publications and the public impact of research carried out in all universities in the UK 2008-2014.

Our research interests a very wide-ranging - from the contemporary to the medieval, and from Western Europe to the Caribbean, Africa, and China. We have ground-breaking research in social and political qualitative studies, film and media, sexuality and gender, memory and exile, modernity and modernism, postcolonial studies, translation, and text production. This means we can deliver the broad curriculum mention above. We are also very active in creating multi-disciplinary networks across the University and have recently won a host of high profile publicly-funded grants on topics as diverse as medieval chronicles, genre and the Italian arts.

Rich cultural opportunities

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Languages is part of a School with Visual Arts, Music and Film. No other Languages department in the country has this opportunity. The whole School focuses on the countries you study in languages, making this a culturally rich and a vibrant environment for Languages students. You can watch European and global films at the Barber Concert Hall, try out concerts of Italian or French or German or Spanish music at the brand-new Bramall Music Building, visit the collections of European art at the best small gallery in Britain, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, alongside studying films, music and art as part of your Language degree. You’ll also find lots of cultural opportunities worth exploring all over Birmingham.

Passion for language learning

We truly believe in the benefits of learning and developing language skills and want to share our skills and knowledge with as many people as possible. Our department is involved in outreach work with local schools; we offer language modules for those taking degrees in other areas as well as extra-curricular classes for students and the wider community; in addition to our degree programmes of course. Recently, we’ve developed an innovative new programme for those that wish to study a degree in Modern Languages, but have not taken languages at A-Level.

Vast library collections

You’ll be able to access a wealth of primary sources in many different languages. Our Special Collections hold important manuscripts from Italy, Germany and other parts of the world. The University of Birmingham library is one of the largest research libraries in the UK, housing over 2.7 million volumes. We have more than 200 journal and newspaper subscriptions for Modern Languages alone and have key research collections like The German Documentation Centre (German politics); Spanish Golden Age Rare Books (microfiche); substantial world cinema holdings (DVD); beautiful rare early European, Arabic, and Far Eastern manuscripts in our Special Collections.

Take a look at our investigation in to why it is a great idea to study languages at university.