Language skills 


We now offer all of our postgraduate students the opportunity to develop their language skills, either for personal development or to support their research, via our Languages for All and Graduate Languages courses. 

Graduate languages

This unique, tailor-made scheme is available for all PhD students and many Masters student and is designed to support you in undertaking your research. It is also completely free of charge.

Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn intense graduate academic language skills in just one year to equip you for reading demanding texts in French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Greek or Latin. The aim is that you exit the course with the ability to read and analyse primary and/or academic texts that will be most valuable to you in your research.

Modules available

Note: Ancient Greek and Latin modules can be taken in Semester 1 and/ or Semester 2, depending on your needs and prior knowledge of the language (if any). Semester 2 modules build on knowledge acquired in Semester 1. For further information, please contact Dr Niall Livingstone at


You will be taught by a mixture of tutor-led and workshop sessions, typically alternating between the two. Tutor-led sessions give instruction on the grammatical and lexical features of the language, based on a progressive reading of the prescribed material. In the workshop sessions, you will do exercises, including translation of texts into English, under the guidance of the tutor. You will be able to work on samples of your own material. There are assessments at the end of each semester. 

Further information

For more information about a particular module, please contact the module tutor listed above.


Masters students who have the option to take a language module as part of their programme will register on the relevant module at the beginning of the academic year.

PhD students should contact the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Languages for All

These open-access courses are available to all postgraduate taught and research students who would like to learn a language on an extra-curricular basis. The courses focus on developing practical language skills and are ideal for personal development. They cater for all levels from beginner (no prior knowledge) right through to advanced (A-level/degree level knowledge).

A limited number of free places are available for postgraduate students in the College of Arts and Law. If you wish to guarantee a place on your preferred course, you can choose to complete paid enrolment at a cost of £175 (a discounted rate for University of Birmingham students).

Languages available

You can study Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish.
The languages are offered across a variety of levels:
Level 1: Beginner 
Level 2: Post beginner*
Level 3: GCSE level but needs practice
Level 4: GCSE level Grade A/B
Level 5: AS level or old A level
Level 6: A level
Level 7: Recent A level (or equivalent) and Degree level

It is important that you identify the correct level to match your ability. For further advice, visit the ‘What level am I?’page on the Languages for All website.

* Students should have completed a beginners’ course previously or had at least 10 weeks’ teaching in their chosen language


The courses last for twenty weeks, ten weeks in semester 1 and ten weeks in semester 2, with two hours of teaching and learning per week. The courses are delivered through small group teaching, with a maximum of 16 students per class. 

The courses do not include any formal tests. Your tutor may run some informal tests in class to monitor your progress, but they will not be taken into account as formal evaluation. However, if you wish to take a test, you will be able to do so (a £50 fee applies). 

Further information

For more information, visit the Languages for All website. 


Current (continuing) students can apply for a free language course in 2016/17 by submitting an application between 16 May and 17 June 2016, via an online application form.  New students joining the University in 2016-17 will be eligible to apply in Welcome week, again, via an online form. For more information, see

However, please note that places are limited, especially on popular Level 1 language courses, and we are unable to guarantee all applicants a place. Where courses are oversubscribed, the places available will be allocated to applications on a random basis.