BA Modern Languages and History of Art

The key to understanding another society and is mastering its language. From this starting point, you can examine a country's history, culture, art and much more; and by comparison you can learn more about our own society.

The study of languages (French, Italian, Russian or Spanish) alongside History of Art is highly complementary and an exciting opportunity to contextualise your knowledge in each discipline.

Acquire advanced language skills and a deep cultural understanding through true immersion on your Year Abroad. Study works of art first hand with access to original works, an extensive library and collection of resources in our on-campus Barber Institute of Fine Arts. You will also develop a wide range of skills that will equip you for a huge range of careers, both in this country and abroad.

Katie Spencer

Katie Spencer

“My course at Birmingham provided me with a broad range of module options, high quality teaching and library facilities, a respected degree and a sound basis for further learning and training. I really valued the wide range of module choices available. I studied at the universities in Yaroslavl and St Petersburg on intensive language courses. There were challenges in becoming acclimatised to a different culture, but the process was instructive and enhanced my life skills. Language skills are a great advantage when applying for jobs.”

This programme offers you the opportunity to combine studies in art history and French, Italian, Russian and / or Spanish in a variety of combinations, weightings and levels.

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 and creative industries. The programme is also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress.

History of Art at Birmingham is an exciting and stimulating Department, with a diverse curriculum and wide application to modern life. Much of our teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by further resources across the University and Birmingham (such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the IKON Gallery).

The Modern Languages Department emphasizes small group teaching and encourages student participation. We produce confident, enthusiastic, articulate graduates with excellent potential for employment in the UK and beyond. You will follow the same language modules as Single Honours languages students, but choose fewer literary, cultural or political options.

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

Why study this course

  • Outstanding staff: Our staff produce high quality research which directly influences their teaching. In 2014, 98% of Modern Languages and 100% of History of Art students agreed that staff are good at explaining things. 97% and 100% respectively, agreed that staff are enthusiastic about what they teach. Great teaching helps our students develop to their full academic potential.
  • Superb employability rates: Amongst our 2013 cohort, 87% of Modern Languages and 96.8% of History of Art graduates were in work or further study 6 months after graduation.
  • The city: Birmingham has a wide range of cultural venues to visit, volunteer or work with.
  • Travel opportunities: Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting and formative part of their degree.
  • Excellent student experience: Small classes, the Barber, language classes with native speakers, study trips, writing for The Golovine and / or The UoB Linguist, access to extensive Research and Cultural  Collections, language student societies are just some of the benefits to studying Modern Languages and History of Art at the University of Birmingham.
  • Read more about our strengths.

Open day talks

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


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.

Modern Languages:

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

History of Art:

This is your foundation year and you will take modules which introduce you to concepts, categories and approaches to studying art and artists, as well as modules which examine the techniques and materials used in the production of artworks. Other modules will give you an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art, such as the Renaissance and Modernism.

Lectures and seminars are supported with study trips to galleries and current exhibitions in Birmingham, London and elsewhere.

For those students studying 80 credits of History of Art:

  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art
  • Debates and Methods in the History of Art
  • Object and Medium 1: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculptures
  • Object and Medium 2: Photography, Film, Performance and Installation

For those students studying 60 credits of History of Art:

  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art
  • Debates and Methods in the History of Art
  • Ideas of the Renaissance
  • Concepts of Modernism

For those students studying 40 credits of History of Art:

  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art
  • Debates and Methods in the History of Art

Descriptions of first year modules.

The second year is structured to allow you to acquire greater depth by focusing a number of more specific subjects. You will have the opportunity to choose from a number of optional modules on themes or periods in the history of art. If you are taking 80 or 60 credits of History of Art these are supported by a module on research techniques in the history of art as well as a study trip to a major artistic and cultural centre overseas, where you will have the opportunity to access works of art and architecture unavailable in Britain and to study them in situ.

History of Art Second Year modules may include:

  • Research Techniques in the History of Art
  • Art History in the Field – Overseas Study Trip
  • Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands 1400-1460
  • Art, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
  • Power, Society, Politics: Religious art in Northern Europe
  • Inside the Gallery. Histories, Theories and Practices of Museums and Galleries
  • Impressionism and after: Art and Society in the Nineteenth-Century France
  • Arts and the Industrial Revolution

Descriptions of second year modules

In the final year you opt to focus on several History of Art special subjects, which you study in depth and detail. If you are taking 80 or 60 credits of History of Art you have the opportunity to develop your research skills in a Dissertation, a piece of writing on a topic of your own choice.

History of Art Final Year modules may include:

  • The Dissertation
  • Women and Artistic Culture 1400-1600
  • Paris Moderne 1850-1930: Image, Concept, Femininity
  • Prague, Budapest, Cracow: Art and the Politics of Identity in Central Europe, 1867-1918
  • Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933
  • Architecture and Decoration in Sixteenth-Century Venice
  • The Destruction of Images
  • Representing War: British Art, Design and the First World War
  • Contemporary Art: New Practices, New Worlds

Descriptions of final year modules

Fees and funding

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

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
If you have an A level in French, Spanish, 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.
General Studies:
Not accepted

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Additional information:

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.

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 completing your UCAS form, please indicate the languages you wish to study as part of BA Modern Languages and History of Art under further details within the choices section of the application form.

Apply through UCAS at

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.

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


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.

Study trips play an important part in the teaching on the programme. These include visits to galleries and museums in Birmingham and the West Midlands, as well as overseas group trips that are funded by the University. Recent destinations have included Rome, Berlin and Paris, and provide you with the opportunity to examine works of art and architecture in situ.

One-to-one tutorials become increasingly important as you progress through your course. This is particularly the case in your final year, when a major part of your programme will be a dissertation on a topic of your choice. Tutorials enable you to discuss your research with your project supervisor in depth.

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.

Amongst our 2013 cohorts, 87% of Modern Languages and 96.8% of History of Art graduates were in work or further study 6 months after graduation.

The University of Birmingham was ranked first for graduate prospects for History of Art in both the 2015 Complete University Guide and the Sunday Times Good University Guide.

You will acquire skills and knowledge that are highly prized by employers in many sectors, including:

  • Strong communication skills in English and one or more other languages;
  • Visual and textual analysis and interpretation.
  • A deep understanding and appreciation of other cultures;
  • Critical thinking skills, alongside the ability to research, analyse and interpret information;
  • Independence and experience of living abroad;
  • Leadership and teamwork;
  • Handling complex information;
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments;
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload;

Graduates from both departments return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the wide variety of roles available. Recent speakers hold positions at the Wallace Collection, the BBC, BMAG, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sotheby’s Institute, Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre and the White Cube Gallery.

Other graduates have gone on to work at:

  • Kettle’s Yard,
  • the Bodleian Library,
  • Cath Kidston,
  • Historic Royal Palaces,
  • The National Portrait Gallery,
  • Christie’s,
  • National Museum of Wales,
  • the Victoria and Albert Museum,
  • Harper Collins
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham
  • Deloitte
  • HSBC
  • The British Council
  • French Connection

Examples of graduate jobs include:

  • Archivist,
  • Curator,
  • Gallery Coordinator,
  • Events Officer,
  • Exhibitions Assistant,
  • Learning and Access Officer,
  • Programme Coordinator,
  • Editorial Project Leader
  • Teacher
  • International Sales Coordinator
  • Consultant
  • Marketing Officer
  • Account Executive
  • Account Planner
  • Researcher.
In addition, throughout your degree you will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and contacts in museums and galleries, both on and off campus. You can also benefit from our biennial Art History Careers Fair. 

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.


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.