10 reasons to study Modern Languages at Birmingham

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

Award-winning lecturers

Language learning in the classroomWe have outstanding lecturers. They use innovative teaching methods for both your language teaching and courses on culture, and they win awards. They aim to make you absolutely fluent. Many of the people that teach you at Birmingham are also authors of important language text books. They have travelled internationally to give talks on the language methods they use here, and get excellent ratings from the students they teach. In the 2012 National Student Survey, we resulted 6th amongst our Russell Group competitors and 8th across all HE institutions who take part (grouping: European Languages and Area Studies). The respondents told us that they think we are excellent at explaining things, enthusiastic about our subjects, and that our modules are extremely interesting and intellectually stimulating.

Award-winning researchers

Languages at Birmingham is home to world-leading and internationally excellent scholars (REF 2008). We win funding, have innovative research and are in the classroom teaching you. 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.

High-calibre students

In the summer of 2013, across all programmes involving one or more Modern Languages, 83% of our students received a ‘good honours’ degree, either first class (average grades of 70% or above) or 2:1 (average grades of 60% or above). Three of the 12 prestigious Sonnenschein prizes awarded to first-year students in the College of Arts and Law in 2012 went to Languages students.

Impressive breadth, depth and diversity in our culture courses

In BA Modern Languages, you can study 3 languages together, including new ones from scratch, and it’s the most flexible in the UK. Choose to explore so many topics, from Dante to the Berlin wall, from Renaissance culture and art to contemporary cinema, from a racy novel to theories of gender and sexuality, from Hitler to Stalin, to Berlusconi, from the Spanish civil war to the Russian Revolution. Discover Goethe, Petrarch, Proust, Cervantes and so many more. Design your degree and pick modules so that you learn about what interests you most: cinema, literature, political science, translation, more language, new languages.

The most vibrant cultural environment for Languages in the UK

barberLanguages is part of in 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, theBarber Institute of Fine Arts, and study films, music and art as part of your Language degree.

Great employability

With 90% employability within 6 months, if you do Languages at Birmingham, you are almost guaranteed a job (and that’s 80% in a professional or managerial role). We teach you translation, presentation skills, and how to argue your points convincingly – all key to your future career as a translator, journalist, accountant, fashion designer, publisher, teacher, marketing executive, actor, entrepreneur (the list is endless). And while you are here, you can apply for funding to support your internships and work placements from our award-winning Careers Network.

Healthy finances

Our scholars in Languages have an outstanding record of winning research funding: over £750,000 so far in 2012-13. The University of Birmingham was 2nd in the UK last year for attracting Arts (AHRC) research funding, and the University of Birmingham is robust financially. In most of the UK, there is little investment in arts subjects. Here, not only do we have the prestige of this funding, we are attracting investment and it makes a huge difference to what you get here.

An exceptionally broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate Language programmes and translation skills

You can combine our principal languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and all of the languages of the Iberian peninsula: Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Catalan and Galician, with English, Business, History, Visual Arts, Music, Geography, Maths, and a range of other subjects. You will learn translation skills and can choose to specialise in this.

Vast library collections

 In Special Collections, we hold important manuscripts from Italy, Germany and other parts of the world. The University of Birmingham library is the 11th largest research library 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.


Birmingham is ideally positioned for Languages students. A large international airport will take you across the world, whether on low-cost or luxury airlines. We are the only university to have our own train station on campus to take you home or down to London fast, so that you can catch the Eurostar to Paris. For your year abroad, we have partnership arrangements in place across Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Spain), and further afield (Canada, China, Japan, Russia or Latin America).