BA Modern Languages and History of Art

The key to understanding another society and is mastering its language. From this starting point, you can examine a country's history, culture, art and much more; and by comparison you can learn more about our own society.

The study of Modern Languages (French, Italian, Russian or Spanish) alongside History of Art is highly complementary and an exciting opportunity to contextualise your knowledge in each discipline. Travel opportunities such as your Year Abroad and European Cultural Tours will significantly improve your language skills and deepen your understanding of original artworks in situ.

You will also develop a wide range of skills that will equip you for a huge range of careers, both in this country and abroad. History of Art at Birmingham has been ranked Number 1 in the UK for Graduate Prospects, and Modern Languages at Birmingham is in the Top 10 overall in the Complete University Guide 2018.

EU referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

Katie Spencer

Katie Spencer

“My course at Birmingham provided me with a broad range of module options, high quality teaching and library facilities, a respected degree and a sound basis for further learning and training. I really valued the wide range of module choices available. I studied at the universities in Yaroslavl and St Petersburg on intensive language courses. There were challenges in becoming acclimatised to a different culture, but the process was instructive and enhanced my life skills. Language skills are a great advantage when applying for jobs.”

"The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is a shining example of the high standard of artwork outside of London... One of the world's truly great small art museums" - The Telegraph

History of Art at Birmingham is an exciting and stimulating Department, with a diverse curriculum and wide application to modern life. Much of our teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by further resources across the University and Birmingham, such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the IKON Gallery.

The Modern Languages Department also emphasises small group teaching and encourages student participation. We produce confident, enthusiastic, articulate graduates with excellent potential for employment in the UK and beyond. This Joint Honours degree is also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress in one or two languages alongside History of Art.

In addition to your third year abroad for Modern Languages, the study of History of Art includes a week-long University-funded trip to a major European centre of artistic importance in the second year. Recent destinations include; Rome, Prague, Berlin and Paris.

Why study this course

  • Enhanced curriculum and contact hours - You will benefit from an exceptionally broad and flexible curriculum. In your Modern Languages half of your degree, you can choose up to two languages and a variety of specialised modules covering history, politics, culture, society, business and translation. We have also doubled the content hours for the new target-language core module, to 6 hours per week for each advanced language that you study, and 8 hours per week for your beginner language. In addition to your linguistic fluency, Birmingham fosters your cultural fluency and awareness of your target culture(s). The target-language core module pioneers a blended approach to your linguistic development; as your cultural knowledge is developed through the medium of your target language(s).
  • The city - From street art festivals to celebrating foreign film, Birmingham has a thriving underground arts scene with a wide range of cultural venues and festivals to visit, volunteer or work with. 
  • Superb employability rates - 90% of our Modern Languages students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016). By choosing Modern Languages, you are entering an excellent field with almost limitless opportunities and benefits. The new curriculum also has an increased focus on professional development in areas such as presenting, CV-building, debating, and developing digital projects in the target language. In addition, the Department’s ‘Modern Languages Professionals Week’ in the second year features workshops and talks from former students who are using their languages for a 21st century global workplace in business, the not-for-profit sector, the arts, translation and interpreting, and education.
  • Travel opportunities - Travel opportunities such as your Year Abroad and European Cultural Tour/s will significantly improve your language skills and deepen your understanding of original artworks in situ. Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting part of their degree.
  • Excellent student experience - Small classes, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, language classes with native speakers, study trips, writing for The Golovine and / or The UoB Linguist, access to extensive Research and Cultural Collections, language and art appreciation student societies are just some of the benefits to studying Modern Languages and History of Art at the University of Birmingham.

Open day talks

Three full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Modules

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2018. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Modern Languages

During your years of study you will take compulsory language modules depending on your language proficiency (Beginner or post A-Level). You will then choose amongst a wide range of optional modules depending on the number of credits you are taking in the language.

You can find out more about the available modules dependent on your credit weighting for your chosen language(s) via the My Choices website. The modules listed  may occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

During your years of study you will take compulsory modules depending on your language proficiency (Beginner or post A-Level). Depending upon the number of languages you are taking, you will choose amongst a wide range of optional modules to make up your remaining credits.

The range of modules available to you does depend on your chosen languages and the combinations you choose to study. Explore our My Choices app to discover more about the modules available to you within each language section.

Year Abroad: The degree programme is four years in length, and you will spend your third year abroad studying, teaching or working before returning to Birmingham for your final year. Depending upon your chosen language(s), you may also have the opportunity to participate in a subsidised one-week escorted European Cultural Tour to the country of your target language, or a subsidised trip to St Petersburg for an intensive four-week language programme for beginners in Russian.

History of Art

First year

History of Art: This is your foundation year and you will take two compulsory modules: 'Historical Concepts in the History of Art' and 'Debates and Methods in the History of Art' that will introduce the methods and concepts employed in the study of Art History. The optional modules provide an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art.

Second year

History of Art: If you are taking 80 or 60 credits of History of Art, you have two compulsory modules to take 'Research Techniques in the History of Art' and 'Art History in the Field' a European Study Trip funded by the University (recent destinations include Prague, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Bruges and Vienna). Your optional modules will allow you to acquire a greater depth of knowledge by focusing on a number of more specific subjects.

Final year

History of Art: In your final year you will study four special subject modules in depth and in detail, you can choose to undertake a dissertation that also gives you the chance to develop your research skills.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2018, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £16,320

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
ABB
Required subjects and grades:
You normally require an A Level(s) grade B or above in the advanced language(s) you wish to study. If you do not have the relevant language A Level(s), please feel free to contact us to discuss your options.
General Studies:
Not accepted

Additional information:

BA Modern Languages and History of Art Students can study up to two foreign languages alongside History of Art. At least one of these languages needs to be an advanced language (post A-Level). A full breakdown of combinations and weightings can be found here.

To take a language from beginners level, evidence of language learning ability is required such as a grade A in a Modern Language at GCSE.

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

When completing your UCAS form, please indicate the languages you wish to study as part of BA Modern Languages and History of Art under further details within the choices section of the application form.

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.

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

Support

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • 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.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Taster lecture

Dr David Hemsoll delivered this mini-lecture at a March 2017 Applicant Visit Day to give applicants a taste of a typical undergraduate lecture.

Study trips play an important part in the teaching on the programme. These include visits to galleries and museums in Birmingham and the West Midlands, as well as overseas group trips that are funded by the University. Recent destinations have included Rome, Berlin and Paris, and provide you with the opportunity to examine works of art and architecture in situ.

One-to-one tutorials become increasingly important as you progress through your course. This is particularly the case in your final year, when a major part of your programme will be a dissertation on a topic of your choice. Tutorials enable you to discuss your research with your project supervisor in depth.

Language laboratory sessions allow you to practise your listening and spoken skills and are an essential part of all our language programmes.

Contact hours

On the Modern Languages side of your degree, depending on the modules you select, each week you will have between 6-12 hours of lectures and classes.

On the History of Art side of your degree, you can expect about 4 hours of contact time per week made up of both lectures and seminars.

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.


90% of our Modern Languages graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016), whilst History of Art is ranked 1st for graduate prospects in the Complete University Guide 2018. 

You will acquire skills and knowledge that are highly prized by employers in many sectors, including:

  • Strong communication skills in English and one or more other languages;
  • Visual and textual analysis and interpretation.
  • A deep understanding and appreciation of other cultures;
  • Critical thinking skills, alongside the ability to research, analyse and interpret information;
  • Independence and experience of living abroad;
  • Leadership and teamwork;
  • Handling complex information;
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments;
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload;

Graduates from both departments return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the wide variety of roles available. Recent speakers hold positions at the Wallace Collection, the BBC, BMAG, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sotheby’s Institute, Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre and the White Cube Gallery.

Other graduates have gone on to work at:

  • Kettle’s Yard
  • the Bodleian Library
  • Cath Kidston
  • Historic Royal Palaces
  • The National Portrait Gallery
  • Christie’s
  • National Museum of Wales
  • the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Amazon.fr
  • Harper Collins
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham
  • Deloitte
  • HSBC
  • The British Horseracing Authority
  • The British Council
  • French Connection

Examples of graduate jobs include:

  • Archivist,
  • Curator,
  • Gallery Coordinator,
  • Events Officer,
  • Exhibitions Assistant,
  • Learning and Access Officer,
  • Programme Coordinator,
  • Editorial Project Leader
  • Teacher
  • International Sales Coordinator
  • Consultant
  • Marketing Officer
  • Account Executive
  • Account Planner
  • Researcher
In addition, throughout your degree you will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and contacts in museums and galleries, both on and off campus. You can also benefit from our biennial Art History Careers Fair. 

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.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers 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.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.