BA Modern Languages
|Typical offer||AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM|
Why study Modern Languages at Exeter?
Current students tell us what they enjoy most about studying Modern Languages at Exeter. View full size.
Our Modern Languages programmes are designed to be as flexible as possible, so that you can study one, two, or three languages in practically any combination that timetabling allows. The principal languages you can choose to study at Exeter are:
You will learn to read, speak, and write the language(s) of your choice to an advanced level, and you’ll also study the cultures where these languages are spoken in depth, examining literature, politics, cinema, national and regional identities and more through an array of optional modules based on the research of our academics.
As well as covering the cultures of the major European nations and China, we have substantial expertise in the postcolonial nations where our core languages are spoken, particularly Latin America and Francophone Africa. In your final year you will have the opportunity to practise specialist language skills such as language for business or professional translation skills, in preparation for employment.
In addition to the optional modules listed with each language in the programme structure, we also offer modules that are open to students of any language. These include modules on linguistics, literature, visual arts and Chinese culture. These modules allow you to study other cultures even if you are not studying the language itself, giving you a global outlook and making you even more attractive to employers.
Very often our students have lived or received their education outside of the UK and may already speak one of our languages to native or near-native standard. In these cases we can make it possible for you to spend less time on basic language training in the first and second years and more time on academic study of the relevant culture.
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.
Degrees are divided into core and optional modules, giving you the flexibility to structure your degree according to your specific interests. Individual modules are worth 15 or 30 credits each. Full-time undergraduates need to take 120 credits in each year and you’ll be offered regular guidance in making decisions about your choices by your personal tutor.
The exact languages you study can be tailored to your interests and needs once you get here. You might, for example:
- enter studying one language and decide to take up a second from your second year;
- enter studying two languages and either drop one, or even take up a third in your second year. You can still make the shift from two languages to one as late as your final year;
- enter studying two languages, but place more emphasis on the language you prefer;
- enter studying one or two languages and decide to take up a subsidiary subject outside Modern Languages, such as Sociology or Psychology (subject to the approval of the relevant department).
Your degree title
Your final degree title will fully reflect the choices you make and clearly represent your expertise in a particular language eg, BA French, BA German and Italian, BA Spanish with Portuguese, or BA Italian, Russian and Chinese.
Your third year will be spent abroad, and you can choose from a range of options depending whether you want to teach, study at another institution or undertake a work placement.
Your first year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. For four-year programmes the assessments in the second, third and fourth years all contribute to your final degree classification.
For more details about the year abroad, see the Study abroad section.
Entry requirements 2019
AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM
Completing your UCAS form
When completing your UCAS form for R900 indicate your proposed subjects under ‘Further details’ in the ‘choices’ section of the application using the abbreviations, separated by a space as below. It may be possible to study further languages to a lower level of proficiency than degree level in the Foreign Language Centre, subject to demand: this is arranged on registration at Exeter. For further information on completing your UCAS form, please visit the UCAS website.
For Beginners' route:
GCSE in a Modern Foreign Language grade B
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
When applying to a Combined Honours degree with a modern language you will need to indicate, under ‘further details’ in the ‘choices’ section of the application, the language and route you wish to study using the codes above. Please note that you may choose only one language. For further information on completing your UCAS form, please visit the UCAS site. For more information on language requirements for our Combined Honours degrees, visit the individual pages for these programmes in the degrees list on the Modern Languages page.
- Grade B at A Level is required in any language you intend to study from A Level.
- Grade B in a modern foreign language GCSE is required if you wish to study a language on the Beginners’ route
- If you wish to study three languages, grade A at A level will be required in two of the three languages. No student may study more than three languages.
- If you are studying just one language (French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish at A Level/IB), you will continue to study this language at Exeter and may, if you wish, study a new language. If you are studying more than one of these languages at A Level/IB you must continue to study at least one of these languages at Exeter for the Advanced route and may, if you wish, study a new language.
- You may not take exclusively a beginner's language.
- You may not take two languages at Beginner’s level. Students wishing to pursue language study on the basis of a GCSE are normally classed as beginners.
- French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish can be studied either from A Level or from Beginner’s level, with both cohorts reaching degree level in final year. Portuguese and Chinese can normally only be studied from Beginner’s level, with students attaining degree level in the final year.
We are only able to guarantee a place on the relevant language programme(s) if this information is included on your UCAS form. However, we understand that you may change your mind about the languages you want to continue with or take up, so if you wish to change the choice of language(s) given on your UCAS application at any stage please contact either our Admissions Office who will be able to confirm whether or not you are eligible for consideration for a different combination of languages. If you do wish to be considered for an alternative language combination please make your request as early as possible, as capacity and planning constraints may limit our ability to allow late changes to language combinations.
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 language teaching 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, with teams of tutors, including native speakers who contribute to a programme aimed at grammar improvement and the development of advanced writing and translating skills. You’ll also have weekly oral practice in classes of eight to ten students with native speakers of the language(s) that you are studying.
All language students have access to the language-learning facilities provided by the Foreign Language Centre.
Teaching on our culture modules is varied: a class about linguistics takes a rather different form than a class about theatre or film, for instance. Most cultural modules involve a combination of lectures and seminars, backed up by smaller group work and webbased learning via the University’s online learning environment. Between classes you prepare material, evidence and arguments, individually or in groups. Seminars are your chance to try out ideas, present material to other members of the group, and respond to new material on the basis of the critical skills you’ve been taught.
Because our culture modules are taught by experts you will have access to the latest research ideas and methods, especially in final year modules. In practice this might mean studying an author who was previously ignored and who you are helping to ‘discover’; studying a new film or museum exhibition that nobody has had a chance to write about yet; or it might mean studying a facsimile of a manuscript that only a few researchers have seen. This research-inspired teaching will give you an insight into how universities create new knowledge and you will be taught by people with immense enthusiasm for subjects that they know inside out.
Teaching that is inspired by research means that you’ll be taught by staff who are acknowledged experts in their fields, and that you’ll have access to the latest knowledge and innovation. The research skills you acquire will enable you to fine-tune your skills in selecting, assessing and presenting material. All staff teach options which are linked to their own interests which include:
Russian – literature including poetry; Soviet History
Italian – 19th–20th-century literature; linguistics; gender studies; film
German – literature and culture of the early modern period; the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; cultural memory; museums; urban cultures
Spanish – romance linguistics; the Golden Age; Spanish Romanticism; modern literature and film; Latin American culture; women’s literature; translation studies
French – linguistic variation and change; Medieval, early modern and modern literature; thought, culture and society; film studies
Chinese – translation history; art history; encounters between China and the West
Portuguese – linguistics; women’s writing; language and literature of the Lusophone world, including Africa and Brazil
All students have a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. Within Modern Languages, a schedule of group and individual meetings for each year of study ensures that you have different kinds of advice and discussion with your personal tutor at the times when you need it most. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students’ Guild Advice Unit. You can find further information about all the services in the University’s undergraduate prospectus or online at www.exeter.ac.uk/undergraduate Assessment You will be assessed by a combination of formative and summative assessments, exams and coursework (which includes essays, dissertation, projects and other written tasks). Your first year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. For four-year programmes the assessments in the second, third and fourth years all contribute to your final degree classification.
As an undergraduate student on the BA Modern Languages you will spend your third year abroad as an integral part of your degree.
The Year Abroad can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of a modern languages degree. It is also one of the major factors that makes languages graduates attractive to employers: negotiating the challenges of a year abroad is seen by employers as proof of adaptability, independence and resourcefulness.
The Year Abroad is an assessed year and the marks obtained count towards your final degree classification. If you are a beginner in one of the languages (Italian, Russian, Spanish) you are taking and intend to take that language in final year, we strongly recommend you spend the majority of the assessed part of your Year Abroad in the country where that language is spoken. If you would like to arrange the year differently, you should first speak with the Programme Director for your language and/or the Study Abroad Officer.
Ways to spend the year abroad
British Council English Language Assistantship (now part of Erasmus)
An academic year is spent teaching in a primary or secondary school in the country of the language you are studying. During the time you are an English Language assistant you will be expected to work for 12 hours per week in a school that has been allocated to you by the Ministry of Education of the country to which you apply. Your application is passed onto the relevant Ministry by the British Council who in turn has received your application through the University. The application deadline for assistantships is usually 1st December, but the Exeter University internal deadline will be approximately 10 days before that in order to ensure that all applications can be checked before being sent off together to the British Council. The British Council does not accept individual applications for students at university who are applying to be an assistant during their year abroad. The assessment for students who are spending the year abroad as assistants is in the form of a project plus an oral exam taken at the beginning of final year.
An academic year spent at one of Exeter University’s partner institutions studying courses relevant to your degree and taking exams. The marks awarded are then converted and together with an oral, which you will take at the beginning of your final year will form your Year Abroad Assessment.
Erasmus Work Placements
These are internships with prestigious private companies. Deadlines for applications for these can vary greatly not only between companies but also from year to year. Students are selected for these placements by the companies themselves so again, as with deadlines, the selection process can vary widely. Internships are very rewarding in that they give a student a valuable experience in the work place. However, students applying for one of these should bear in mind that they will have to work much longer hours than they might be used to. They should be aware that holidays can be taken only when their employer allows and also that internships rarely offer remuneration.
As is the case for assistantships, the year abroad assessment for private internships is done by means of a project, begun at the end of second year and built up during the year abroad plus an oral taken at the beginning of final year. The project, details of which our current students can find on the intranet, consists of a portfolio, made up of audits, personal development plans, logs, vocabulary sheets, second language acquisition tasks and a series of final essays. Many of the tasks have to be carried out in the target language. There are two versions of the project, one being the full length project for students who spend their year abroad on one activity and a shorter version for those students who choose to split the year abroad between study and work.
Demand for private internships is high and though Exeter has a number of regular partners, students who wish to arrange their own work placement may be able to do so, subject to approval.
The three ways of spending the year abroad above, all come under the Erasmus umbrella and as such benefit the students participating in two ways: students receive an Erasmus grant which is aimed at helping with mobility costs; they may also be given a fee waiver during the year abroad, however, the latter is currently under review.
Please note: Erasmus status only applies to students who spend their year abroad within Europe or in those countries that have special European status.
Students who are post A-level (or equivalent) will normally be advised to spend the Year Abroad in the country of their weaker language; this is to ensure that you achieve the best possible level of language competence possible in all the languages named in your degree.
During your time abroad, you will still be registered as an Exeter student and you will be supported in a number of ways. You will retain your personal tutor and will be expected to keep in contact with her/him. You will be able to ask the Study Abroad Officer for advice on any matter and, if needs be, the Study Abroad Officer will visit you and help you sort out any problems you might be experiencing, whether the problem is an are academic one or not. If you are teaching or working as an intern you will also be able to consult the convenor of the Study and Work Abroad module regarding any queries you might have over the content of this module. You will also be in contact with the Year Abroad Guild Representative - a returning final year student elected by the student body to represent and help students on their year abroad.
During your second year, there is an extensive orientation programme to help you choose the best way for you to spend your year abroad.
The Year Abroad in Russia
Students studying Russian will usually be sent to Russia through Russian Language Undergraduate Studies Ltd (RLUS), however, it is sometimes possible to do an internship in Russia. The Year Abroad in Russia is assessed by means of the projects outlined above.
The Year Abroad in Latin America or Canada
Every year a number of students studying Spanish or French decide that they would like to spend their Year Abroad in either Latin America or in French speaking Canada. Students wishing to spend the Year Abroad in Latin America may do so as British Council assistants or as students at our partner universities in Mexico. In a small number of cases it may be possible for students to arrange an internship. However, internships in Latin America are only allowed if they fulfill the very strict risk assessment procedures demanded by the University of Exeter.
Students who wish to spend the year in Canada can apply to be British Council assistants. We are currently looking into setting up an exchange with a French speaking institution in Canada.
Year Abroad support
A substantial framework of support is in place for students abroad: the Department of Modern Languages, the University and the Guild of Students all play a role in providing appropriate support. This ranges from advice about studying abroad to advice about finances or personal issues.
Modern Languages graduates from the University of Exeter have an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and compete very successfully in the employment market. Six months after graduation 95.7%* of our Modern Languages graduates are employed or in further study.
Studying Modern Languages at the University of Exeter provides you with skills that are attractive to employers and relevant for a wide range of careers. Alongside written and verbal fluency in your chosen language(s), you’ll develop skills in:
- Managing and analysing information
- Articulating ideas and arguments
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Cultural awareness and adaptability
Recent Modern Languages graduates have pursued careers in sectors such as translation and teaching, working for organisations such as UNICEF, Just Education, the British Council, and Amazon EU.
Other recent graduates have progressed to postgraduate courses in:
- MA European Politics
- Graduate Diploma in Law
- PGCE Secondary French
- MA International Relations
- MSc Globalisation and Latin American Development
- MA Translation and Professional Language Skills
A degree in Modern Languages also provides good opportunities to develop skills that are attractive to employers in a broad range of sectors. In an increasingly globalised world, language skills are highly sought after by employers, and can help job applicants to stand out from the crowd. Our recent Modern Languages graduates have pursued careers in:
- Digital Marketing
- The Civil Service
- Finance and Accounting
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 of Modern Languages. HESA Performance Indicator sourced from the DLHE survey 2013/14.
My role as CEO is to drive the business forward and manage everything from investor relations, operations, partnership building and hiring. Since founding the business during my time at Exeter, we successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, achieving 350% of our target. We have also partnered with the Spanish Embassy, Goethe-Institut and the Association of Language Learning and received investment from private investors. We now have six-figure revenues with customers in 49 countries. I absolutely loved my time at Exeter, particularly my Year Abroad. I spent the first two months studying at the Copenhagen Business School, before working at Armani in Modena, studying in Venice and volunteering in Brazil. I genuinely met people who changed my life in each country, and none of it would have had happened if I hadn’t learnt other languages and developed a multicultural understanding.
Alex Somervell, International Relations with Italian and Portuguese (with study and work abroad) (July 2015)
Flexible degree pathways
The high level of choice offered on our BA in Modern Languages means you can build your degree around a number of different pathways. See our Pathways page for examples of possible routes and how your choices are reflected in your final degree title.