BA Modern Languages and History of Art

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The Modern Languages and History of Art degree programme offers you the opportunity to combine studies in both languages and art history. The languages available to study are French, Italian, Russian and Spanish. You will study a range of modules across both subjects, which gives you great flexibility and the option to pursue the areas that interest you most. Modern Languages and History of Art is a complementary combination of subjects and allows you to explore language, culture, art and much more.

Course fact file

UCAS code: 5QV1

Duration: 4 Years

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

Start date: September

Details

You can choose to take one or two languages with History of Art. Most languages can be taken from beginners or post-A level, apart from French which can only be taken from post-A level.

There are various weightings to choose from dependent on how you wish to focus your studies.

If you choose to study one language alongside History of Art, there are three different options.

  • You can split your time equally between your chosen language and History of Art. This means that you will take 60 credits in your chosen language and 60 credits in History of Art. 
  • You can study your chosen language and History of Art in a major/minor combination, this means you will take 80 credits in your language and the remaining 40 credits in History of Art.
  • You can study History of Art and your chosen language in a major/minor combination, this means you will take 80 credits in History of Art and the remaining 40 credits in your chosen language.

If you choose to study two languages alongside History of Art, you will study these all as minor subjects. This means that you will take 40 credits in each of your chosen languages, and 40 credits in History of Art.

Available combinations for the Modern Languages and History of Art degree programme.

First year, second year and final year

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:

The first year serves as a foundation for the subject. The modules, Historical Concepts in the History of Art and Debates and Methods in the History of Art, introduce the methods and concepts employed in the study of art history. Other modules provide an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art such as Romanticism, Realism, the Renaissance, Modernism or the Enlightenment. Lectures and seminars are supported with study trips to galleries and current exhibitions in London or 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
  • Objects and Medium 1&2

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

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.

In the final year you focus on a special subject, 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.

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, Italian or Spanish-speaking country, spend the year as a teaching assistant. Work placements are available for some language combinations. Where two languages are studied, you can split the year abroad between two countries or spend the bulk of the year in one country followed by a vacation placement in the other. 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.

Why study this course

At Birmingham, you’ll benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries.

  • 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 Language open day talk

Dr Emma Tyler delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham.

History of Art provides an opportunity to study European and North American art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the present. Much of the teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by the rich resources available elsewhere in Birmingham, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, one of the major regional British art museums, and the IKON gallery, one of the leading galleries of contemporary art.

  • The Department is located in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, one of the world's finest small art galleries giving you access to internally important collections of paintings, sculptures and rare coins.
  • Students are eligible to participate in The Barber's Institute of Education Programmes. This scheme involves the assisting of teaching of local school groups.
  • The Barber Fine Art Library contacts is the largest resource of it's kind in the region with over 60,000 volumes on art historical subjects.
  • There is the opportunity to be selected for one of the Barber Bursaries for six months of funded training in curatorial, education and marketing aspects of gallery work.
  • The second year includes a study trip abroad to a major art historical centre such as Berlin, Paris, Rome or Venice.

History of Art open day talk

Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying History of Art at the University of Birmingham.

Joint honours open day talk

Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university.

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, 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

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

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.


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 Language learning in the classroomallow you to practise your listening and spoken skills and are an essential part of all our language programmes.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

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.

90% 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 80% 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

History of Art

[Video above - Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange discusses careers and employability during the History of Art open day presentation]

As a History of Art student you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers, including visual and textual analysis and interpretation, clear and effective writing, visual discernment, making opinions, and respecting the views of others even if you disagree with them.

The University of Birmingham has graduate employability rates for History of Art graduates above the national average and in the top 10 UK universities for the subject. Over 50% of job vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don't specify a degree subject, and our graduates have gone on to highly successful careers in art galleries and other cultural institutions, as curators, researchers and administrators. Others pursue careers in auction houses and the art business, teaching, and in administrative and management roles for a wide range of employers. Some also decide to pursue graduate study in specialist art and cultural areas or professions such as teaching and law.

Employers of Birmingham History of Art graduates have included the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Bodleian Library, Cath Kidston, Historic Royal Palaces, The National Portrait Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum. Examples of jobs they have taken up include Archivist, Assistant Curator, Curator of Fine Art, Gallery Coordinator, Programme Coordinator and Researcher.

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 events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates, and access to internships and job vacancies. Visiting speakers from institutions such as Christie's and Sotheby's, and events including 'Careers in Heritage and Museums' help History of Art students with their career ideas and choices. We also make work placement opportunities available to you in the University's Cultural Collections 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 while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.