BA Modern Languages

The key to understanding another society is mastering its language. From this starting point, you can examine a country's history, its literature and culture; and by comparison you can learn more about our own society. The BA Modern Languages suite of programmes is designed for students who wish to specialise in the study of one, two or three languages. You’ll need to be highly motivated and able to demonstrate a real interest in, and flair for, languages. 

Our five core languages are French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish, but we also offer Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and English Language. You’ll be learning at one of the biggest, most prestigious centres for the study of modern languages in the UK, with teaching from experts in their field. It’s an exciting chance to develop skills that will equip you for a huge range of careers, both in this country and abroad. The wide range of posts recent graduates have secured include roles in journalism, law, publishing and teaching at every level.

Modern Languages graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 87% going into work or study within six months of graduation. An impressive 85% of those graduates go into professional or managerial roles within six months of graduation.

Course fact file

UCAS code: R901

Duration: 4 years

Places Available: 117

Applications in 2013: 608

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

Start date: September


The BA Modern Languages programme involves the study of one, two or three modern languages via one of our four pathways. The degree programme is four years in length, and you will spend your third year studying, teaching or working abroad before returning to Birmingham for your final year.

Our pathways:

Each pathway offers a very wide variety of modules to choose from - you can find out more about the modules available by using our My Choices app.

During your first year of study in French, Hispanic Studies, German and Italian, you could have the opportunity to participate in a subsidised one week escorted European Cultural Tour during the Easter vacation. You will visit a city in the country of your target language and partake in language classes, cultural visits and have time to explore the city yourself (please note that places are limited). For those studying Russian, all beginners will take part in a subsidised trip to the city of Petrozavodsk in western Russia for an intensive four-week language programme.

The small print

  • If you choose to study three languages, you are normally expected to have followed two of them to A-Level standard.
  • Combinations that are impossible for timetabling reasons: Italian/Portuguese, Italian/Mandarin, Portuguese/Mandarin, German/English Language, Post A-Level Russian/beginners Spanish.
  • French and English Language are only available from post A-Level or equivalent.
  • The English Language variant is not English as a second language but consists of advanced linguistics which requires native standard English Language competence as well as a good pass in English Language A-Level or equivalent.

Year abroad

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. You will spend it studying at a university, teaching or working abroad. You will be exposed to many new experiences and people and be immersed in your target language. Upon your return to Birmingham your language skills will have developed considerably. 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. If you’re studying three languages, it is possible to follow a vacation course in the third language. For your beginner language, you are required to spend at least a semester (or equivalent work period) in a country where that language is spoken.

Other ways to study Modern Languages

You can study Modern Languages in a wide range of other degree programmes and in combination with many other subjects. Please see the Modern Languages course list for all available courses.

Modern Languages Graduates 2013

Why study this course

The University of Birmingham is one of the biggest and most prestigious centres for the study of modern languages in the country. We offer an exceptionally broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. You can choose from French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, and you can study these languages, together with the cultures associated with them, in a variety of programme combinations.

Consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings, we are a leading centre for innovative research. We are a Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence and have lively programmes of national and international experts who come to the Department to give lectures and seminars.

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 unique 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 courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice.

Read our ten reasons to study Modern Languages at Birmingham.

Year abroad

Open day talk

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

Required subjects and grades: A level (or equivalent) in at least one modern language

General Studies: accepted

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

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36 points including a modern language at HL

Important information: please see “How to apply” for UCAS language / pathway codes

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

Important information: When completing your UCAS application, please indicate your proposed subjects under ‘Further details’ in the ‘choices’ section of the application by using the following codes, separated by a space.

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

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

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.

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.



[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.

87% 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 85% 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

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.