BA Modern Languages (University of Birmingham with The Open University pathway)

Discover an alternative route to a language degree that combines distance learning, on campus learning and a year abroad. 

The key to understanding another society is the mastery of the 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. This programme is designed for students who wish to specialise in the study of one or two languages, which can be started from beginner or intermediate level. You can choose from French, German, Italian and Spanish (French may only be taken from intermediate level).

This degree is offered by the University of Birmingham with The Open University. Your first two years of study will be studied part time via distance learning with The Open University. You can take:

  • one language from scratch;
  • one language from intermediate;
  • two languages from intermediate;
  • or one language from beginner and one language from intermediate.

After successful completion of your first part of study through The Open University, you will move into Year 2 of BA Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham. You will spend a year on campus at the University of Birmingham before spending a year studying, teaching or undertaking a work placement abroad. You will then return to the University of Birmingham for your final year, graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA Modern Languages degree.

EU referendum

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

Your first and second years: distance learning with The Open University

In your two years with The Open University (OU) you are required to complete 120 credits (equivalent to one full year of study in first year).

Everyone starts with a broad introduction to the study of languages and cultures, which will prepare you for further modules in both English and modern languages. You’ll then select options according to your chosen route, and depending on your current level of expertise. You must study at least one modern language to intermediate level. If you choose beginners’ and intermediate modules, we recommend that you study them in different academic years.

Your third and fifth years: on campus with the University of Birmingham

When you arrive at Birmingham, you will enter directly in to Year 2 of the BA Modern Languages programme..

To find out more about your time at the University of Birmingham, visit our BA Modern Languages pages. Please bear in mind that the pages will refer to the first / second / third and final year for students on the standard 4 year programme, therefore your third year will be referred to as the second year etc. There may also be some restrictions on module availability, for example it is not possible to take the translation modules.

Your fourth year: study, teach or work abroad

The Year Abroad is one of the most exciting aspects of a Modern Languages degree and many graduates remember it as one of the best years of their life. You will spend it studying at a university, teaching or undertaking a work placement in a country whose language you are studying. 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.

Additional information about possible language combinations.

Why study this course

By choosing Modern Languages, you are entering an excellent field with almost limitless opportunities and benefits. This course is a flexible route to a degree in modern languages for those without the traditional entry requirements but who want the best of both worlds. With this programme, you have the opportunity to blend the flexible study patterns afforded by The Open University (OU) with the experience of campus life and the chance to spend some time studying or working abroad.

You and The Open University

The launch of the OU changed the landscape of higher education forever.  The principles on which it was founded - that the very highest standard of education should be accessible by the many, not the few - still drives everything it does.  It's why they're the undisputed experts in online, part-time study with more than 200,000 students. The experiences and support OU students get are first class.

You and the University of Birmingham

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. 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.


The Open University modules

This module introduces key concepts relating to languages, language learning and plurilingualism. You will develop intercultural skills and language awareness to support and complement language-specific studies.

Your remaining 90 credits can be taken from the following options (all modules are 30 credits). You will need to take at least one Intermediate module.

University of Birmingham modules

To find out more about your modules at the University of Birmingham, visit our BA Modern Languages pages. As above, please bear in mind that the pages will refer to the first / second / third and final year for students on the standard 4 year programme, therefore your third year will be referred to as the second year etc. There may also be some restrictions on module availability, for example it is not possible to take the translation modules.

Fees and funding

Studying with The Open University

You pay for each module separately. Learn more about fees and funding with The Open University.

Studying at Birmingham

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

There are no pre-requisites to study this degree. You should discuss first your options and express an interest contacting the Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator.

If you are accepted, you will be required to complete a Direct Entry Application Form. The application form will be submitted to the Admissions Tutor and you will then receive a conditional offer from the University of Birmingham deferred for 2 years.

Your application will then be passed to The Open University that will process it and make contact with you directly to help you register to the first two years with them.

International students:

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

Please contact our Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator using the details below to express an interest in this programme. Applications will be made through the University of Birmingham.


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.

Studying with The Open University

The Open University (OU) has spent over 40 years honing their methods, harnessing new and emerging technologies, and drawing on an unrivalled level of practical experience to make sure every student has the best possible chance to learn, achieve and succeed using their unique method of Supported Open Learning. It’s different to other methods because it combines more one-to-one contact than distance learning with more flexibility than campus-based learning.  They blend the best of technology and tutoring to let you decide how you want to study. So whether you prefer to use the “OU Anywhere” app to access course materials on your smartphone or tablet or traditional textbooks, you have the flexibility to choose the right resources to fit with your study preferences.

It’s this unique combination of flexibility and support that makes Supported Open Learning such a successful way to learn. Whether you’re at home, at work or on the move, your tutor, study advisers and other students are as close as you need them to be - online, on email, on the phone and face-to-face.

Studying at Birmingham

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 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.

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

90% of our Modern Languages students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016).

Our Modern Languages graduates have a range of skills that are valued by employers, including:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret information
  • A deep understanding and appreciation of other cultures
  • Strong communication skills in English and another language
  • 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

Univeristy of Birmingham Modern Languages graduates are highly employable and go into a wide range of careers, both in this country and abroad.

Employers include:

  • Capita
  • Eurocity Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • IQD Frequency Products
  • Aura Financial
  • JC Decaux
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham
  • British Airways
  • Deloiette
  • HSBC
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • The British Council
  • French Connection
  • NATO
  • BP
  • Local and central government

Graduate roles include:

  • Editorial Project Leader
  • English Teacher
  • International Sales Coordinator
  • Investigation Specialist
  • Operations Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Marketing Officer
  • Account Executive
  • Account Planner

Examples of further study include:

  • PgDip Education
  • MA Social Work
  • PGCE Modern Foreign Language
  • PGCE Primary
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • MA Hispanic Studies
  • MA Translation Studies
  • MSc Strategy and International Business
  • PGCE Primary languages specialism

Modern Languages graduates enter the wide range of careers similar to other arts and humanities graduates but with much greater scope in international settings.

You will benefit from organised events in the Department whereby our graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available to linguists.

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.


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.