BA Modern Languages and English

Engage with the language or literature of both the English-speaking world and that of another European modern language of your choosing (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish). This naturally complementary pairing is a popular combination.

For English you will choose to follow either our Literature or Language Pathway. The Literature pathway allows you to investigate the ways in which literary culture has engaged with and shaped society and how it continues to do so today. The Language pathway will develop your understanding of the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language and its use.

In Modern Languages, you will complement your language study with modules from a diverse selection of areas including literature, history, film and politics.

Benefit from internationally renowned research and teaching, as well as unparalleled resources - including those for the study of Shakespeare through our world-leading Shakespeare Institute and exciting new collaboration with the RSC.

Mary McGowan

Mary McGowan

“My favourite module so far is Hispanic Literature – technically a Spanish module, it’s a link between both of my courses so I really enjoy the opportunity to use skills from English Literature in a completely different context. We study things that I didn’t even think about before, such as Spanish Medieval ballads or Caribbean literature! I’m the fifth person in my family to come here, but really I loved the campus and course as soon as I came on my open day!”

This programme is designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development - a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries.

Furthermore, you will develop advanced language skills and a deep cultural understanding of the country of your chosen language through true immersion on your Year Abroad.

The English Literature pathway allows you to develop a strong foundation in all major periods and genres. You may specialise in a huge range of different areas from medieval poetry to twenty-first century digital literary culture. You will also have the opportunity to take our specialist second-year Shakespeare module and the possibility of participating in our study residential in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The English Language pathway allows you to acquire a thorough appreciation of the technical aspects of the English language and its social and political context. Choose from a wide range of different specialisms, which can prepare you for a wide range of different careers from speech therapy to journalism.

Within Modern Languages you will follow the same language modules as Single Honours languages students, but choose fewer literary, cultural or political options. Small group teaching is important and student participation is strongly encouraged, leading to confident, enthusiastic, articulate graduates.

Why study this course

  • Excellent academic experience - We are ranked in the Top 10 for English and most Modern Languages in the Complete University Guide 2017.
  • Exceptionally broad curriculum - You will benefit from an exceptionally diverse and flexible curriculum, with each module taught by an expert in that field as well as native-speakers in your chosen language. Furthermore, we have a unique provision for the study of Shakespeare due to our Shakespeare Institute and our collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship. You will also benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the RSC which will see the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre, The Other Place. You will be able to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners; you will also have the opportunity to attend RSC productions and events.
  • Outstanding employability development - Over 90% of our students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).
  • Formative travel opportunities - Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting part of their degree and the period where their language skills truly developed. Choose to study, teach or work in the country of your chosen language. 
  • Extensive extra-curricular opportunities - Join one of our language student societies, our language focussed student magazine The UoB Linguist, BEDSoc (Birmingham English Department Society), English Language Society, Writers’ Bloc our Creative Writing Society, our student newspapers or one of our seven different drama and theatre societies. You can also enjoy opportunities such as working alongside members of staff on their research projects on our Undergraduate Research Scholarships, social events such as end-of-term parties and summer balls. We also host regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. 

Open day talks

Four full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Modules

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Your first year of study is split equally between your two disciplines (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 your second and final years, or stay with the 60/60 balance. This flexibility allows you to tailor the course throughout your degree programme, once you have had the time and experience to consider where your strengths and interests lie.  You can also write a Link Dissertation combining your two subjects in your final year.

The degree programme is four years in length, and you will spend your third year abroad.

You can see more information about the different modules and options on the links below. Within the English side of your programme you can follow either a Literature or a Language pathway.

Modern Languages:

During your years of study you will take compulsory language modules depending on your language proficiency (Beginner or post A-Level). You will then choose amongst a wide range of optional modules depending on the number of credits you are taking in the language. You can find out more about the available modules dependent on your credit weighting for your chosen language below:

English:

First year

English Language : Your first year modules will introduce you to many different aspects of language and its use. You will take three compulsory modules: 'English Language: Sounds, Structures, and Words', 'Investigating Language', and 'Theories of Language'. These modules combine to create an excellent foundation for your study and research in subsequent years.

English Literature: Your first-year modules in Joint Honours English will introduce you to the key genres of English Literature across a wide historical and international span, and train you in new ways of thinking about literature. By studying compulsory modules on 'Poetry', 'Prose' and 'Plays and Performance', you will develop the close reading skills needed to analyse all kinds of texts, from medieval plays and early modern poetry to contemporary drama. You will also develop new understanding of how the historical and cultural contexts in which literature is produced and read can shape its meaning.

Second year

English Language : In your second year you will take two compulsory modules: 'Research Skills in English Language' and 'English Grammar'. If you take more than 40 credits in English you will also have a range of modules to choose from.

English Literature : The second year of your degree is an excellent opportunity to build on the new interests and passions that you discovered in your first-year modules. You can choose between modules in 'Histories of Literature' to deepen your knowledge and understanding of all literary periods from medieval to the present day. If you take 80 credits in English you will take the Shakespeare module - 'Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean' - as a compulsory module.

Final year

English Language : Your final year modules are mainly optional and you can choose from a wide range of modules. If you will take 80 credits in English, you will complete either a Dissertation or Language Investigation, the culmination of your development as an undergraduate researcher.

English Literature : Depending on whether you elect to take 80, 60 or 40 credits in English Literature, you will take a number of the Special Subject modules plus either a 12,000-word Dissertation or a 6,000-word Extended Essay on a subject of your choice, for which you will be supervised by an expert in the field.

Fees and funding

The Government has announced that it will raise the cap for undergraduate fees in line with inflation. Assuming that the relevant regulations are passed by Parliament, which is expected to happen in Autumn 2016, the University of Birmingham will increase fees to the revised amount, expected to be £9,250 for home/EU students. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

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

  • Home / EU: £9,250 - TBC
  • Overseas: £15,570

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

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

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 Language 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:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International 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.

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.

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • 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.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

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

Contact hours

On the Modern Languages side of your degree, depending on the modules you select, each week you will have between 7 and 10 hours of lectures and classes, with lecturers on hand to answer additional questions outside this timeframe. These figures assume that you are taking 60 credits on the language side of your degree. For JH programmes that allow 40 or 80 credits on the language side each year, the contact hours will vary accordingly.

On the English side of your degree, you can expect about 6 contact hours per week on both the Literature and Language pathways.

For the Literature pathway, classes will be made up lectures and seminars and the independent research you will conduct in your final year will be supported by 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer.

For the Language pathway, this will be made up of a combination of workshops, lectures and seminars. In your second and final years this will also include 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer who will support you as you conduct independent research.

Outside of this timeframe, lecturers will be on hand during office hours to answer questions and the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Careers Network run workshops throughout the academic year.

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.

English and Modern Languages graduates have a range of highly-valued skills:

  • Communication skills in English and another language;
  • Understanding and appreciation of other cultures;
  • Critical thinking skills;
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information;
  • Independence and experience of living abroad;
  • Leadership and teamwork;
  • Forming concise and articulate arguments;
  • Time management;
  • Workload prioritisation.

Our English and Modern Languages graduates are highly employable and go into a wide range of careers, both in this country and abroad. They enter the wide range of careers similar to other arts and humanities graduates but with much greater scope in international settings.

Over 90% of our graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).

Employers include:

  • Hodder & Stoughton Publishers
  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Daily Mail
  • ITV
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Amazon.fr
  • Capita
  • Harper Collins
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Aura Financial
  • British Airways
  • Deloitte
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • The British Council
  • French Connection
  • NATO
  • BP
  • Local and central government

Roles include:

  • Social Media & Website Officer
  • Cultural Intern
  • PR Client Executive
  • Research Assistant
  • International Sales & Digital Executive
  • Editorial Quality Executive
  • Events Membership Co-ordinator
  • Editorial Project Leader
  • International Sales Coordinator
  • Investigation Specialist
  • Operations Analyst
  • Marketing Officer
  • Account Executive

Examples of further study include:

  • NCTJ in Multimedia Journalism
  • MA Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies
  • MA Writing for Performance and Publication
  • MA Creative Writing
  • PgDip Education
  • MA Social Work
  • PGCE (various)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • MA Hispanic Studies
  • MA Translation Studies

You will benefit from organised events in both departments whereby our graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available. Recent speakers include authors, writers and graduates that hold positions at companies such as the BBC, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Guardian, Network Rail, Capital One, the National Trust.

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.

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

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers 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.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham 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.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, 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.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.