BA Hispanic Studies

For 2015 entry onwards this course will be replaced by the new BA Modern Languages.

Spanish is second only to English as the most widely spoken language in the world. With that in mind, this programme aims to provide you with an opportunity to develop and perfect your language skills, whilst experiencing the history, literature, film and visual arts of the world’s Hispanic population.

As befits one of the larger Hispanic Studies departments in the country, we offer a considerable range of courses on Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Caribbean and Lusophone Africa, as well as the languages and cultures of Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country. In fact, Birmingham has one of the most significant concentrations of expertise in Iberian languages and cultures in the country.

94% of Hispanic Studies students reported that staff are good at explaining things.

Course fact file

UCAS code: R410

Duration: 4 years

Places Available: 13

Applications in 2011: 136

Typical Offer: AAB - ABB - Offers will normally be made within this range, taking your predicted grades and your UCAS application into account. (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September 2014 only


Spanish is second only to English as the most widely spoken language in the world. With that in mind, this programme aims to provide you with an opportunity to develop and perfect your language skills, whilst experiencing the history, literature, film and visual arts of the world’s Hispanic peoples.

As befits one of the larger Hispanic Studies departments in the country, we offer a considerable range of courses on Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Caribbean and Lusophone Africa, as well as the languages and cultures of Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country. In fact, Birmingham has one of the most significant concentrations of expertise in Iberian languages and cultures in the country.

Other ways to take Hispanic Studies

In addition to the Single Honours programme, Hispanic Studies is available:

Why study this course

  • 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.

Open day talk


Across its four-year curriculum, Hispanic Studies at the University of Birmingham offers you courses in all of the languages of the Iberian Peninsula (Castilian/Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Galician and Catalan), in linguistics, and also in a range of other subjects such as film, history, literature, visual culture and politics.

First and second years

During the first two years you take a variety of introductory courses, which deal with different aspects of Hispanic literature and cultures, as well as helping you develop your Spanish language skills.

Some modules earn 20 credits, while others are worth 10 credits. This means that you can combine courses (to a total of 120 credits) to maximise the breadth of subjects studied, thus enhancing your knowledge and skills.

The following modules are on offer to you in your first year at Birmingham:

  • Spanish language modules: Spanish Language; Intensive Spanish Language A & B.
  • Other Iberian language modules: Intensive Spanish Language A & B; Beginners’ Catalan: Catalan Language and Culture I; Beginners’ Galician: Galician Language and Culture I; Beginners’ Portuguese.
  • Culture modules: Hispanic Literature: Texts and Contexts; History & Politics; Images of Hispanic Identity; Iberian Languages & Linguistics.

In your second year at the University of Birmingham you will have the chance to develop and deepen your knowledge, expertise and skills in a number of areas. In year 2 the range of modules on offer includes:

  • Spanish language modules: Spanish Language II; Ex Beginners Spanish Language.
  • Other Iberian language modules: Beginners’ Basque: Basque Language and Culture I; Basque Language and Culture II; Beginners’ Catalan: Catalan Language and Culture I; Catalan Language and Culture II; Beginners’ Galician: Galician Language and Culture I; Galician Language and Culture II; Beginners’ Portuguese; Intermediate Portuguese Language.
  • Culture modules - both semesters: Hispanic Literature: Texts and Contexts L1; Life Writing in Contemporary Spain; Spanish Cinema.
  • Culture modules - semester oneDon Quixote and Golden-Age Prose Fiction; Conquest, Empire and Inquisition in 16th Century Spain and Spanish America; Contemporary Latin American History & Society; Barcelona - Urban Space and Cultural Identity; Spanish Linguistics; Medieval Galician Portuguese Lyric; Portuguese Literature.
  • Culture modules - semester two: Origins of the Spanish Theatre; Spanish Narratives of Violence; Introduction to the Spanish Caribbean: History, Literature & Popular Culture; Basque Society & Culture; Constructing Community in the Catalan-Speaking Territories; Love, Sin and Death in Medieval Spain; Brazilian Literature.

Third year

This year is spent at a university in Spain or Latin America, where you perfect your language skills and prepare a dissertation on a Hispanic theme.

In addition to studying at university students might also opt for approved placements in teaching or working in industry.

  • Interactive maps of the main universities in Spain, Portugal and Latin America

Fourth year

Final-year courses at the University of Birmingham offer you the opportunity to expand very significantly your knowledge and expertise, and during your last year of study, you are also offered the chance to research and write a dissertation on a topic of particular interest to you (as agreed with your tutor).

Modules on offer to final-year undergraduates include the following:

  • Spanish language modules: Advanced Spanish Language.
  • Other Iberian language modules: Advanced Basque Language; Advanced Catalan Language; Advanced Galician Language; Intermediate Portuguese Language; Advanced Portuguese Language.
  • Culture modules - both semesters: Dissertation; Translation Theory and Practice in Europe; Advanced Linguistics; Spanish Caribbean: History & Literature; US Latino Culture: The Spanish Caribbean; “Novel into Film”: Contemporary Spanish Film from Fiction; Spanish Civil War Literature; Social and Political Processes in Contemporary Latin America; Re-Imagining the World: Cervantes, Lopes and the Baroque.
  • Culture modules - semester one: Vision of the Vanquished; Great Power Intervention in the Spanish Civil War; Contemporary Latin American Novel; 20th Century Brazilian Fiction.
  • Culture modules - semester two: Investigating Iberia: Fictions of Detection; Libro De Buen Amor; Currents in Catalan Literature; Contemporary Portuguese Novel; Spanish Fiction Since 1975; A Time of Change: Collective and Cultural Memory in Contemporary Spain.

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: 3

Typical offer: AAB - ABB - Offers will normally be made within this range, taking your predicted grades and your UCAS application into account.

Required subjects and grades: A level Spanish grade B

General Studies: accepted

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

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36-34 points including Spanish

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

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

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

You can take Hispanic Studies as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:

Other ways to take Hispanic Studies

In addition to the Single Honours programme, Hispanic Studies is available:

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).


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.


Language laboratory sessions allow 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. 


[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

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.