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

Start date
5 years
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours, Study abroad year

We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2019/20:
£9,250 (Home/EU)
£17,640 (Overseas)
More detail.

Birmingham’s fusion of language and culture places employability at its heart, preparing you to live and work as an engaged citizen of the world.

This degree is offered by the University of Birmingham with The Open University and combines distance learning, on campus learning and a year abroad. The 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 in the following combinations:

  • one language from beginner
  • one language from intermediate
  • two languages from intermediate
  • one language from beginner and one language from intermediate

(French may only be taken from intermediate level) 

Your first two years of study will be studied part time via distance learning with The Open University. We recommend you read our additional information regarding progression from The Open University before applyingIn your third year of study, 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 before spending a Year Abroad studying, teaching or undertaking a work placement in your target culture/s of study. Your language skills will have developed considerably upon your return to the University of Birmingham for your final year of study, before graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA Modern Languages degree.

Please note: this course is being withdrawn for September 2020 entry. You may wish to consider our BA Modern Languages degree instead.

The course understands how being digitally aware is essential for the workplace in today’s society. They do this by moving away from essays and exams, instead creating assessments such as writing blog posts, creating comic strips or creating a radio interview – all in different languages.


Why Study this Course?

  • Fantastic flexibility  - This course is a flexible route to a modern languages degree 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, teaching or working abroad.
  • Outstanding employability development - 93% of our BA Modern Languages students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017). By choosing Modern Languages, you are entering an excellent field with almost limitless opportunities and benefits.
  • Travel opportunities - The degree programme is four years in length, and you will spend your year abroad studying, teaching or working before returning to Birmingham for your final year.
  • Active student societies - Join one of our language student societies or our student magazine The UoB Linguist Magazine. Develop your language skills outside your teaching, make new friends who share your passion for languages and attend diverse extra-curricular events to become a well-rounded linguist.
  • Innovative language study - The target-language core module at the University of Birmingham pioneers a blended approach to your linguistic development, as your cultural knowledge is developed through the medium of your target language. In addition to linguistic and cultural fluency, the department also offers optional vocational modules in areas such as teaching and business. We pride ourselves on competitive contact hours of 6 hours per week for advanced language study and 8 hours per week for beginner language study. 


Modules offered by 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). 

This module counts for 30 credits, and 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.

For your remaining 90 credits, you may choose from the following options. Please note that all modules below are 30 credits each, and you will need to take at least one Intermediate module.

Modules offered by the University of Birmingham

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.

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.


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 2019, 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 2019/20 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £17,640

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.

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

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.

How To Apply

Please contact our Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator via to express an interest in this programme. Applications will be made through the University of Birmingham.

Standard offer

International Requirements

We would require evidence of Maths and English GCSEs at grade C or above, or Functional Skills in these subjects.

Enquiries are to be made via 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.

In linguistics, we’re all about looking at what can different aspects of the world around us tell us. How can we define Spanish? Historically, where does Spanish come from? Geographically, where is Spanish spoken? Linguistically, what does it mean to speak Spanish?

Dr Alice Corr

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.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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.

93% of our BA Modern Languages students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).

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

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

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

Example employers:

  • 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

Example roles:

  • 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

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. The 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.

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.