BA Modern Languages and English

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This course offers the perfect opportunity to engage with language, culture and society of the English-speaking world, alongside those of another European Modern Language. On the Modern Languages side of your programme you can study French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish. As well as modules developing your language skills, you will take modules covering topics such as literature, history, film, society, linguistics or culture. You have the option to choose topics to tailor the degree to your interests.

On the English side of your programme you can choose to follow either a Literature or Language pathway throughout the three years of the programme. If you choose to follow the Literature pathway you will explore the written word from medieval to modern times, investigating the ways in which the literary culture of the English-speaking world throughout history has engaged with and shaped society. If you choose to follow the Language pathway, your English study will provide you with a deep understanding of the way in which the English language works and, more generally, the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language and its use. Both disciplines interrelate very well with the study of Modern Languages; opportunities to integrate the two subjects in your programme include the option of writing a lengthy final-year ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.

This degree programme incorporates a Year Abroad. If you take Spanish, French, Italian or German, then you may choose to study, teach or work in a country where your language of study is spoken. This obviously includes France, Spain, Italy and Germany, but also countries such as Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Belgium, Austria or Canada. If you take Russian, then you will spend your year abroad studying in Russia. Many graduates remember their Year Abroad as a particular highlight of their time at university, and a crucial factor in the development of their language skills and understanding of the country’s culture.

Student satisfaction rates for both departments are very high - 95% of English Literature students and 98% of Modern Languages students agreed that staff were good at explaining things for example. Meanwhile, 94% of English Literature and 97% of Modern Languages students feel that staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching - which leads to almost all students feeling that the course is intellectually stimulating.

Course fact file

UCAS code: 7Q6Q

Duration: 4 Years

Places Available: 24

Applications in 2013: 100

Typical Offer: AAB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

Our Joint Honours Modern Languages and English programme offers you the opportunity to combine one of four European Languages with one of two English pathways, either Literature or Language.

Your first year of study is split equally between Modern Languages and English (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have flexible options to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both of years 2 and 4, or stay with the 60/60 balance.

Most modern languages can be taken from beginners or post-A level, apart from French which can only be taken from post-A level.

Available combinations for the Modern Languages and English degree programme. Please note that the English Language pathway cannot be taken in combination with German.

First year

  • Modern Languages: Your first year in Modern Languages will involve core language modules which will develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills (at advanced or beginner level) in your chosen language. Your learning groups are usually very small ensuring that you have an excellent learning environment and receive individual attention and support. Practical language classes involve both whole-group and small-group/pair-work activities with emphasis on communicative settings, use of visual aids, audio/video recordings and the Internet. The digital language laboratories will also be used where appropriate. To complement your language learning, you'll also take cultural modules, covering areas such as the literature, politics, history or film of your language. These will be taught through a mixture of lectures and follow-up seminars which involve in-depth discussion of the topics covered.
  • English pathways 

Second year

In your second year, you may opt to shift the focus of your degree, by taking 80 credits in one area and 40 in the other, or continuing with a 60 credit / 60 credit split.

  • Modern Languages: During your second year in Modern Languages you will develop your language skills even further, as well as deepening your understanding of the culture and society in the countries of your target language. You will have a wider selection of modules to choose from, which can change year-on-year (due to study leave for example) and will depend upon which language you are studying (and whether you entered on the advanced / beginner stream). For example, if you a student taking French, you could typically expect to choose from a list that includes topics such as “French Cinema, Media and Visual Culture”, “La France Moderne 2”, “Politics, Culture & Society in the 19th & 20th Centuries”, “Renaissance to Realism”, “French Text & Interpretation” and “Conflict, Identity and Absurdity in Twentieth-Century French Theatre”. You will also spend time planning your year abroad.
  • English pathways

Year abroad

The third year is spent abroad. You attend Universities in the country or countries of your language(s) of study. You may also, if you are going to a French, German, Italian or Spanish-speaking country, spend the year as a teaching assistant. Work placements are available for some language combinations. The year abroad is one of the most exciting aspects of the programme and many graduates remember it as one of the best years of their life.

Final year

In your final year, you may take 80 credits in one area and 40 in the other, or 60 in each.

  • Modern Languages: Upon yourreturn to Birmingham for your final year, you will find that your language skills will have greatly developed after spending time immersed in the country or countries of your language(s) of study. Students that started as beginners will now be taught alongside those that entered with an A-Level in the language. As an example, if you a student taking German, you could typically expect to choose from a list that includes topics such as “From the Stasi to the Sandmännchen”, “German-Language Cinema since 1960”, “Medieval German Epic and Romance” and “Comparative Germanic Philology” as well as an Independent Study module.
  • English pathways

Why study this course

On this programme you have an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with the materials of broad and diverse cultural, textual and linguistic disciplines, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression. The programme allows you to bring two disciplines into an exciting and rewarding dialogue, with a huge amount of flexibility allowing you to tailor your course to suit your own interests. Below is a little more information about the Departments of: Modern LanguagesEnglish Literature; and English Language and Applied Linguistics:

Modern Languages

  • The Department of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham is the only one in the country to offer the full range of languages from the Iberian Peninsula (Basque, Catalan, Galician and Portuguese) in addition to our seven principal languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish). All programmes last four years, with the third year spent studying abroad. You can concentrate on a single language, study two or more languages or combine language study with some other subject.
  • Birmingham is one of the top four universities for language provision in the judgement of employers, according to the Guardian.
  • Our students are extremely satisfied with the experience they receive here at the University of Birmingham, which is reflected in our excellent returns in the National Student Survey over recent years. Our different language sections frequently achieve scores in excess of 80% or 90% for overall satisfaction.
  • There are a wide range of Joint Honours with Languages subjects available at Birmingham.
  • Read our ten reasons to study Modern Languages at Birmingham.

Modern Languages open day talk

[Video above- Dr Emma Tyler delivers the 2013 Modern Languages undergraduate open day talk]

English Literature

  • The internationally renowned staff in the Department of English Literature research, publish and teach across the full chronological range of English Literature from Old English to contemporary British and American fiction and poetry, with a commitment to a rich diversity of theoretical, historical and intellectual approaches to their subjects. Research and teaching areas cover both the traditional literary canon and non-traditional areas of literary study such as postcolonial literature, early modern women?s writing, and the interrelation of literary and digital culture.
  • English Literature students can take a year-long Shakespeare course, drawing on the unique resources of our internationally-renowned Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • BEDSOC (Birmingham English Department Society) is very active in organising social events, for example trips to the theatre and theme nights out such as Hawaii night. We also have a thriving Creative Writing Society, Writers? Bloc, which is open to all students.
  • Students at Birmingham will also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from award-winning writers and industry professionals. Speakers in recent years have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and theatre director Greg Doran.
  • We have signed an exciting new collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a pioneering project that will bring benefits to our students.

English Literature open day talk

[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham]

English Language and Applied Linguistics

  • The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. You will be taught by the experts in the field, with a wide range of interests and specialities.
  • Birmingham is internationally famous for its work in corpus linguistics, stylistics, the language of social media, figurative language, and language learning and teaching. You can focus on traditional aspects of the subject, such as grammar, pragmatics, or historical linguistics, but you can also explore newer areas such as Englishes used worldwide, or English used in Internet communication.
  • Your personal tutor will guide you through the programme, helping you to select options that will suit your chosen career path. We have 4 informal routes through the degree programme which will help you into a wide range of different careers from advertising through to management through to speech therapy.
  • You will part of a vibrant staff and student community in the Department, with guest lectures from renowned linguists and regular social events such as end of term parties and summer balls. You will also benefit from the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies? visiting writer talks; recent guests have included the short story writer and novelist Bernard MacLaverty and playwright Simon Stephens.

English Language open day talk

[Video above - Professor Jeanette Littlemore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham]

Joint honours open day talk

[Video above - Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the University]

Modules

Please note that this information is intended as an indicative guide to the programme and modules on offer may vary slightly from year to year.

Modern Languages:

You can find out more about the available modules dependent on your credit weighting for your chosen language(s) below:

English Literature

English Language

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: If you have an A level in French, Spanish, German, Italian or Russian you can take your language study at advanced level.

You will need to obtain a B or above at A level in the language that you are going to study.

Spanish, German, Italian and Russian can be taken at beginners level. To take a language from beginners level, evidence of language learning ability is required such as a grade A in a Modern Language at GCSE.

For the English Literature pathway, A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade A is required.

For the English Language pathway either English Language, English Literature and Literature or English Literature is desirable but not essential; if taken it will be required at grade A. We also consider other candidates who demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the study of language. In this case, an A level in a modern language would be an advantage.

Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36 points

Those wanting to study at advanced level will need a modern language at HL.

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

When completingyour UCAS form, please indicate which modern language at which level and which English pathway (‘Literature’ or ‘Language’) you wish to study under the further details section of the choices section of the application form using the following codes.

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com

Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Language laboratory sessions allow you to practise your listening and spoken skills and are an essential part of all our language programmes.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

The principal means of assessment for English are coursework essays and written exams.

Employability

Modern Languages

[Video above - Dr Emma Tyler discusses careers and employability during the Modern Languages open day presentation]

Modern Languages graduates have a range of skills that are highly prized by graduate employers: oral and written communication in one or more foreign languages, critical thinking,  intercultural awareness and understanding. You will also develop leadership, teamwork and organisational skills through activities such as group projects and your year abroad.

87% of our Modern Language graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. 50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and our graduates enter a wide range of careers similar to other arts and humanities graduates but with much greater scope in international settings. This includes business, government, journalism, the creative arts, teaching and law. Some go abroad to develop their language skills while working as TEFL teachers and university language tutors.

Modern Languages graduates from the University of Birmingham have excellent prospects after graduation. An impressive 85% of our graduates go into professional or managerial jobs within six months of graduation. Our graduates have started careers with employers including British Airways, Deloitte, HSBC, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the British Council, NATO, BP, central and local government, and universities in the UK and abroad.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and talks and events, including ‘Careers with Languages’, to provide insight into careers of interest to our students. Many languages students will also find our events about careers such as teaching, law, marketing, journalism and advertising of interest.

We work hard to help students identify how the year abroad may help their future career. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Modern Languages alumni profiles

English Literature

[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore discusses careers and employability during the English Literature open day presentation]

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include:
    • Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
    • Birmingham REP
    • Birmingham Royal Ballet
    • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    • Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust
    • Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.