BA Modern Languages and Visual Culture

UCAS codeWR29
Duration4 Years
Typical offerAAA-AAB; IB: 36-34
  • Modern Languages
  • Art History and Visual Culture
LocationTaught in Exeter Streatham (Exeter)


The BA Modern Languages and Visual Culture is a Combined Honours degree which enables you to divide your time equally between these two related subject areas. You will study half of your modules from the BA Modern Languages and the other half from Visual Culture.

In Modern Languages, you can choose to study French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian. All programmes are taught by language specialists including native speakers and academic staff at the cutting edge of research in their particular discipline. You will develop a high level of proficiency in reading, writing, understanding and speaking your selected language, providing you with valued language skills of potential use for future careers. There is a great choice of modules enabling you to focus more towards language skills or to learn about the society in which a language is spoken. These society-based modules cover topics as broad as history, politics, philosophy, literature and cinema.

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The programme is normally studied over four years; the third year is spent abroad. It is possible to transfer onto an alternative 3-year programme should you be unable to spend a year abroad, subject to the agreement of the relevant Director of Education. Both the 4- and 3- year versions of the programme are identical in Years 1 and 2 and the final year, with a compulsory 30-credit core language module in each year.

The year abroad may be spent either in one country where a language of study is spoken or, if suitable arrangements can be made, divided between two countries. Exceptionally, other arrangements may be approved by the relevant Director of Education and/or Head of Department. On the year abroad all students are required either to take a core module which tests language acquisition, intercultural competence and develops employability skills and environmental awareness, or, if you study at a University on an Erasmus exchange, you will be assessed on the basis of marks obtained at the host university and an oral exam held on your return to the University of Exeter.

In each stage except the year abroad your study will be split equally between the two sides of the degree programme, with 60 credits taken from Modern Languages and 60 credits from Visual Culture.

Year 1

The first year gives you a foundational knowledge of visual culture theory and concepts as well as essential language training. You will also gain important analytical techniques that will be useful across a range of subjects and research tasks.

For Modern Languages, you will study 30 credits of core language (French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish). You will then choose another 30 credits, which may consist of either another language module or of optional modules related to your language choice.

For Visual Culture, you will study two compulsory and one optional module. The first, Introducing Visual Culture, highlights elements of visual literacy from antiquity to the present. The module is structured around discreet themes or topics which may include the body, the archive, gender and art, ethnicity, religion and belief, exhibition and museum culture. The second core module is Visual Media.

Year 2

In the second year you will advance your grasp of visual culture knowledge and methods and language learning through a set of compulsory modules. Optional modules enable you to develop specialist knowledge on a range of topics.

For Modern Languages, you will study a second core 30 credit language module, which will be in the same language as that studied in the core module of the previous stage. This will reinforce and enhance your core language ability. You will then choose a further 30 credits, which as with Stage 1 may consist of either another language module or content modules related to your core language choice.

For Visual Culture, you will study two core modules and 15 credits of optional Visual Culture modules. The core module, Contemporary Visual Practices, covers the ways in which different media construct contrasting visual worlds. Media may include painting, sculpture, installation, photography, film, video art, television, digital media, social networking, virtual and mixed reality. The second core module is the Art History and Visual Culture Field Study.

Year 3

The third year is spent abroad, either on a work placement, studying at a university, or in a school working as a language assistant.

Year 4

The centre-point of the final year is the dissertation. This provides you with the opportunity to explore an area of interest and to demonstrate what you have learned over the previous years of your degree. You will also take up to three other specialist modules to create a programme of work fully reflecting your interests.

In Modern Languages, you will study a third core 30-credit language module, again in the same language as that studied in the core modules of previous stages, and building on language acquisition from time spent abroad. Again, you will also choose a further 30 credits of either language or content study.

In Visual Culture, you will take 60 credits of options. You may also choose to undertake a dissertation in Visual Culture.

Entry requirements 2017

Typical offer

AAA-AAB; IB: 36-34

Dependent on your chosen language; see table below.

Selecting your chosen language when applying

When applying to a Combined Honours degree with Modern Languages you will need to indicate under ‘further details’ in the ‘choices’ section of the application the language you wish to study using the codes below. Please note you may choose only one language. For further information on completing your UCAS form, please visit the UCAS website.

CodeSubjectRequired subjects
Fren French GCE AL French grade B; IB French HL5
Chin Chinese GCE AL in a modern foreign language (French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish)  grade B; IB modern foreign language (French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish)  HL5
Germ German
Ital Italian
Port Portuguese
Russ Russian
Span Spanish

Language requirements

  • Grade B at A level is required in any language you intend to study from A level.
  • You may only choose one language.
  • Students wishing to pursue language study on the basis of a GCSE are normally classed as beginners.
  • German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish can be studied either from A level or beginner’s level, with both cohorts reaching degree level in the final year. Chinese and Portuguese can normally only be studied from beginner’s level with students attaining degree level in the final year. French can only be studied from A level, not beginner’s level, to degree level, though it is possible to study French from beginner’s level to a lesser level of proficiency than degree level in the Foreign Language Centre, subject to demand.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching in Modern Languages aims not just to improve your production and comprehension of the language but also to help you develop your language-learning skills. These will enable you to take responsibility for your language learning, to continue learning the language(s) after graduation and to pick up new languages in the future.

Written language is taught through weekly classes of about 18 students with teams of tutors who contribute to a programme aimed at grammar improvement and the development of advanced writing skills. You’ll also have weekly oral practice in classes of about eight with native speakers of the language(s) that you are studying. You’ll be expected to prepare written work or presentations for seminars, in which you’ll have the opportunity to express your own point of view and to discuss other people’s ideas.

All language students have access to the language-learning facilities provided by the Foreign Language Centre, which include satellite television channels in each of our languages and audio, computer and multi-media language-learning packages.

Non-language modules are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and/or tutorials. Our teaching methods are chosen to encourage you to become an increasingly independent learner as you progress through the years.

You will learn how values, gender roles and national and ethnic identities evolve, through the study of cultures and societies from earlier decades and centuries. In addition to reading and interpreting documents and texts, which is a key skill in language studies, many of our modules also teach you to decode images: from medieval illuminations to political cartoons, from propaganda images to advertising and fashion – not to mention the moving image, which you are taught to interpret in our film modules.

Each language has its own student society which brings together students to share in experiences and to give advice on choices of location for the year abroad, as well as module choices. The societies build upon the family atmosphere that is central to the ethos of the department and they arrange talks, films, drama and social activities.

Visual Culture modules are taught through a range of seminars, lectures, workshops and group sessions, web-based learning, along with relevant work ‘in the field’ at galleries and museums, and closer to home on campus, through our art galleries and collections on site.

You will develop expertise in curation through one of Britain’s largest public collections of books, prints, artefacts and ephemera relating to the history and prehistory of cinema and the versatile facilities provided by the Forum – our brand new development at the heart of Streatham Campus which combines student services with catering and retail outlets – along with works of art and flexible multimedia spaces.

Total contact time for the Combined Honours programme usually amounts to around 10 hours in the first year, 8 hours in the second year and 6 hours in the final year. You’ll have a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies and a student mentor during the first year.


Assessment methods vary between modules, but generally include coursework, project work, written examination, and various forms of presentation for Visual Culture modules and a combination of exams and coursework (essays, projects and other written and oral tasks) for the Modern Languages modules. Please see the individual module descriptions on our website for further details. You’re required to pass your first year but these results do not count towards your final degree classification.


The College of Humanities has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters. Six months after graduation 96%* of Humanities graduates are employed or in further study.

Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter is a bold interdisciplinary programme which will enable you to stand out in the job market. This programme will give you specialist knowledge of everything from traditional art forms such as architecture and sculpture, to today’s visual practices such as film, video, performance and digital art. You will develop a broad range of highly desirable skills in analysis, critique, research and theoretical and practical creativity. Art History and Visual Culture graduates will be able to succeed in a range of sectors, including:

  • Heritage
  • Arts Administration
  • Consultancy
  • Market Research
  • Civil Service
  • Education
  • Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Charities
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations (PR)

Further Study

Every year a high proportion of Humanities graduates choose to progress to further study or professional training. The Art History and Visual Culture programme presents its graduates with opportunity to undertake further study or training in areas such as education, arts management and journalism, amongst others.

Career Zone

The services offered by the Humanities careers and employability team are complementary to the services offered by our central Career Zone, where you can participate in practical sessions to develop your skills; access paid internships and volunteering opportunities; explore postgraduate study options; meet prospective employers; get one-to-one advice and learn how to secure the right job for you.  

*First–degree University of Exeter graduates across the College of Humanities. HESA Performance Indicator sourced from the DLHE survey 2013/14.

Find out more about careers in Art History and Visual Culture and Modern Languages 

Contact us


For general Modern Languages enquiries:

Programme information
Phone: +44 (0)1392 724202
Visit the Department of Modern Languages website

Contacts for each individual language are provided with the details for each programme.