Optional Modules in the Department of Modern Languages

staff and students chattingAt Birmingham, your Modern Languages education will expand far beyond grammatical structures and vocabulary to shape you into a sophisticated linguist. We offer a wide range of engaging and exciting modules that allow you to study history, visual arts, literature, linguistics and more in your chosen languages.

Hear from our staff and students as they list their personal favourite optional modules in Modern Languages! These brief descriptions will gave you a taste of the variety of modules we have on offer. 

Please note this list is not a reflection of our complete offering and module offering is subject to change.


  • Unleash your inner film critic in "Cross-cultural cinema: Migration and Displacement." You'll develop techniques of film analysis to decipher cinematic representations of refugees, migrants, exiles and asylum seekers.
  • Take the lead on research as you test and critique new digital approaches in the field in "From Text to Tech: Digital Approaches to Languages and Cultures."
  • What are the limits between human and environment? Who shapes borders? In "Creative Ecologies: Literature and the Environment," you'll analyse a broad range of text and artefacts to discuss these questions and more.


  • How have French playwrights been inspired by the events and debates of their time? You'll investigate this and more in "Conflict, Identity and Absurdity in 20th-century French Theatre."
  • Go behind the scenes of French-language films directed by women in "Behind the Camera: Introduction to women's cinema from the 1960s to the present." 
  • In "Echoes of Colonialism Across Cultures," you'll discover the myriad ways in which the colonial past has influenced, and keeps influencing, the world we live in. Covering everything from architecture to literature, law, sports and even artistic practices, this module offers you a unique opportunity to use the colonial experience as a prism to understand present global human dynamics.


  • "Cultures of Protest and Terror in West Germany, 1967–1977" explores the motivations behind peaceful protest and violent resistance. You'll discover the stories of young people and their responses to events and injustices in West Germany and beyond in the 1960s.
  • How do short stories, poems and plays illuminate the history, movements and issues of German-speaking lands? You'll investigate texts from as far back as the 1830s in "Writing identities in the German-speaking world." 
  • In "Sex, Seduction and Submission: gender in German literature from 1900 to today," you'll experience the diversity of women's writing as authors navigate war, nationalism, growing antisemitism, motherhood, sexual freedom and more.


  • What do Dan Brown, Alfred Tennyson, Rosetti, and Franz Liszt have in common? Their source of inspiration: Dante Alighieri! You'll immerse yourself in Dante's poetry and his modern legacy in "Dante: Word, Music and Image."
  • Dig deep into the conceptual journey of identity in twentieth-century and contemporary Italy in "Italian Identities: gender, sexuality and race." 
  • In "Visions of Italy: Modern Italy in the Making," you'll take your knowledge of key figures, paintings and texts in Medieval and Renaissance Italy for a real-life test drive with a visit to Birmingham's Barber Institute of Fine Art. Here, you'll demonstrate your new skills in reading and presenting paintings.


  • How do Russian-speakers celebrate a successful business deal? What's the appropriate way to address your client? You'll gain the skills you need in business etiquette in "Business Russian."
  • Go beyond stereotypes and learn what life in Russia is really like in "Russia Unwrapped: Cultures, Contexts, Identities." 
  • In "Fiction in Place of a Public Sphere: The Golden Age of the Russian Novel, from Pushkin to Tolstoy," you'll journey through the second half of 19th century Russia as you learn about cultural practices, social classes and historical events. You'll read and analyse some of the best Russian novels and authors from Tolstoy to Dostoevsky!

Spanish and Catalan

  • Embrace creativity and curiosity as you investigate changing conceptions of Catalonian identity in "Artistic and Literary Representations of Barcelona."
  • How do audio and visual cultures impact the lived realities of young people? You'll examine current cultural artefacts and more in "Digital Media and Spanish Youth Culture." 
  • In "Mexican and Chicano Art in the Twentieth Century," you'll get to know the artists and artworks that shaped Mexico and the Mexican diaspora throughout the 20th century. You'll explore themes of migration, colonialism and activism through the works of Frida Kahlo and other revolutionary artists.

Translation and Interpreting

  • Develop an advanced linguistic toolkit and become a better translator in "Talking About Translation."
  • What is it really like to tackle translation work in the industry? You'll work as part of a team to complete a translation assignment for a client in "Audiovisual Translation Group Project." 
  • How is translation affected by body language, cultural references and taboo words? In "Translating Sound and Vision," you'll explore a variety of routes into the translation profession and gain hands-on experience with the processes and technical constraints you'll encounter as a languages professional.