BA Russian Studies with Central and East European Studies

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

This is a Major/Minor degree with Major in Russian Studies (80 credits per year) and Minor in Central and East European Studies (making up one-third or 40 credits per year). Our aim is to provide you with the opportunity to develop an in-depth and wide-ranging understanding of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, drawing on the cutting edge of research in these fields. 

Graduates from the Russian programme at Birmingham benefit from a high employability rate.  The average starting salary for graduates from Russian programmes at Birmingham is £18,000. There is scope to enter a wide range of careers including journalism, law, business, government, teaching and law.  

Course fact file

UCAS code: R7R9

Duration: 4 years

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

Start date: September 2014 only


This is a Major/Minor degree with Major in Russian Studies (80 credits per year) and Minor in Central and East European Studies (making up one-third or 40 credits per year).

Our aim is to provide you with the opportunity to develop an in-depth and wide-ranging understanding of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, drawing on the cutting edge of research in these fields. You'll become familiar with general concepts in the social sciences, literary, cultural and historical studies, and will be able to apply these to the specific cases of Russia and other former communist countries in our region. Apart from your knowledge of the region, you'll also develop valuable skills, such as giving seminar presentations, use of IT, conducting research projects (for the final year dissertation), and the kind of skills that employers really look for in graduates.

First year

No prior knowledge of the Russian language is necessary to enter our programmes. In the first and second years, students are divided into groups according to whether they are beginners or have an A level or equivalent in Russian. (Students with AS level Russian are placed in the advanced group and given extra tutorial support to catch up, while students with GCSE Russian will normally be placed in the beginners’ group.)

At the end of the first year, beginners travel to the city of Petrozavodsk in Russia for an intensive four-week language programme, for which many of the costs are covered by the University.

As well as the core Russian language module (40 credits), there is a choice modules on Russian History, Literature and Culture, and Russian and East European politics.

Second year

In addition to more advanced language classes you can choose from a variety modules including Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe, Contemporary Russian and East European Politics, Russian History, International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia, and Nineteenth century Russian Literature. You also have the option of studying Beginner’s Polish.

Third year/Year abroad

You can choose to spend your year abroad in various locations including Moscow, St Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Petrozavodsk, Tver and Volgograd, spending either two semesters in one place or splitting them between two different places, for instance a semester in Moscow and a semester in Tver. In Russia you will gain confidence and a higher level of fluency in Russian language, studying either at an accredited specialist language college or a university depending on the location.

Fourth year

In addition to the core Russian language module, you can choose from a variety of modules including:

  • Advanced Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Advanced Contemporary Russian and East European Politics
  • Business Russian
  • Additional Russian (English-Russian translation and Russian-English aural translation)
  • the Russian Economy: from Plan to Market, Political History of Central Eastern Europe
  • Russian Political and Intellectual Thought from 1950 to 1989
  • Advanced International Politics
  • Security in Russia and Eurasia, and Russia in the Modern World
  • • Twentieth-century Russian Novel 

You also write an extended essay or dissertation on a Russian or Central East European Studies topic of your choosing. Polish language modules may also be available.

Why study this course

  • Russian Studies at Birmingham offers a vibrant and supportive atmosphere to students. With a small core of dedicated and experienced teaching and research staff, we provide a friendly community where staff and students work together to create an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable environment in which you can study to your full potential. Russian programmes are suitable for beginners to post A-level in all of our combinations. Beginners study in Russia for four weeks in Year 1. If you are a keen linguist, there is the chance to learn Polish in Year 2. We pride ourselves on producing some of the best fluent graduates in Russian in the UK.
  • Russian in Modern Languages has close research links with the Centre for Russian and East European Studies. Together with our colleagues in CREES we conduct a wide-range of funded research, from Russian modernist and postmodernist literature, genre studies, the role of new media – such as social media internet and blogging in Russia and beyond, to ethnographic work on identity, class and consumption after socialism. You will benefit from the broad range of modules offered by our partners in CREES. These include modules in Russian literature, culture, society, history, politics and international relations.
  • Russia is one of the top ten world economies. Nearly 300 million people speak Russian as a first or second language. Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is one of the key languages employers seek as UK firms move to increase trade links in former Soviet states.
  • Graduates from the Russian programme at Birmingham benefit from a high employability rate. The average starting salary for graduates from Russian programmes at Birmingham is £18,000. There is scope to enter a wide range of careers including journalism, law, business, government, teaching and law. Recent graduates have been placed with Deloitte, Credit Suisse, The US State Department, all in roles which utilise their Russian language skills and country knowledge.

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: ABB

Required subjects and grades: GCSE in a Modern Language or Latin grade B or above

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Please note that an alternative programme pathway for native or near-native speakers of Russian is available. This is called our ‘Heritage Pathway’ in Russian Studies. Please contact the admissions tutor for further details.

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

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.