Year Abroad

One of the most exciting elements of any degree in Modern Languages is the opportunity to spend your third year abroad, perfecting your language skills, developing a thorough appreciation of another culture and acquiring all manner of transferable skills.

If you are studying more than one language, you will split your Year Abroad between different countries.

We have dedicated members of staff to support you with the organisation of your Year Abroad and you will also benefit from our “Insider’s guide to the Year Abroad” online resource, written by returning students.

While you’re away, we won’t forget about you. You have a named contact at your host University who is responsible for helping you integrate into the system and for dealing with any problems you may have. A member of staff from Birmingham will usually visit you during the year and we also keep in regular email contact.

You will spend your Year Abroad in one of three ways:

Studying at a university

Studying at one of our partner institutions in a country where your target language is widely spoken is the most popular choice for the Year Abroad.  We have a large number of partner institutions all across the world.

 By going to a University abroad, you will be amongst people of your own age offering you many opportunities to make friends and social contacts, further enhancing your language skills. You may also be eligible for financial support from bodies such as Erasmus or Universitas 21.


Some students prefer to spend their Year Abroad as a teaching assistant in a school. This is available to students in French, German, Hispanic Studies and Italian.

This is a salaried placement of between six and nine months at a school in a country where your target language is widely spoken. This scheme is administered by the British Council.

On a work placement

Another option is to spend your Year Abroad completing a work placement. Many students use this year to gain valuable experience in an industry they hope to enter after graduation. You will need to be accepted by a company or institution and have your place approved by the Year Abroad Tutor. This is available to students in French, German, Hispanic Studies and Italian.

Examples of recent placements include:

  • a top fashion brand in Italy
  • a European-wide fashion brand based in Dusseldorf
  • a PR agency in France
  • an IT start-up company in France
  • a football magazine in Germany
  • an online fashion retailer in France
  • a translation agency in France
  • a hotel in Chile that is part of a global chain of luxury resorts and hotels
  • a media communications company in Spain. 

Additional information

Find out more about the Year Abroad options for each language here (not all languages are available to all Modern Languages joint honours programmes):