MA by Research Modern Languages

Duration Full time 2 years
Part time 3 years
Distance Learning available
  • Modern Languages
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April


Why study for a Humanities PhD

Hear from staff and postgraduate research students as they explain what makes Exeter a unique place to study at a postgraduate level. View full size.

The Master by Research in Modern Languages like other research degrees contains no taught element and offers you the opportunity to pursue a research project without entering into the commitment of a PhD. The degree programme is intended both as an award in its own right or as a progression route to a PhD. The programme  is assessed by a written dissertation of up to 40,000 words.

The MbyRes programmes are two years full time or three years part time. There is no minimum registration period and students may complete their studies within a shorter time scale. However, students who are accessing financial support through the Student Loan Company Postgraduate Research Loan should be aware that funding payments are scheduled across two years of the defined full time programme duration, or three years for part-time equivalents.

We welcome applications for research within the wide array of subjects studied in the department. Modern Languages research at Exeter, covering Chinese, French, German, Hispanic Studies (including Latin American), Italian, Portuguese and Russian, spans literary and cultural studies, including film; translation studies; gender studies; textual editing; art history and visual culture; history and society; and linguistics. We have specialists from the medieval through to the contemporary period; recent grants include major awards from the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust and EU Marie Curie Actions. Modern Languages is home to three interdisciplinary Humanities Research Centres: the Centre for Translating Cultures; the Global China Research Centre; and the Exeter Centre for Latin American Studies.

Distance-based MA by Research

It may be possible to study with only occasional visits to the University. Distance-based students undertake the majority of their research at an off campus location of their choosing. If you think you may be interested in a distance-based MA by Research, please read the guidance and further information before applying.

Research areas

A summary of our main areas of research is provided here. The Modern Languages web pages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the staff profiles pages.

Chinese Studies

  • Chinese art and culture, 17th-18th centuries
  • Chinese-European landscape exchanges and cultural contacts
  • History of the senses in China
  • Translation and China’s modernization
  • Chinese literature in translation
  • Sex and desire in Chinese medicine and literature
  • Translation and Representation in Chinese cinema

French Studies

  • Literature and culture – Middle Ages to the present day
  • French thought and critical theory
  • Art history and visual culture
  • Sexuality and gender studies in a French context
  • French cinema
  • French linguistics

German Studies

  • Culture of the Reformation and Baroque
  • 18th- and 19th-century cultural and literary studies
  • Culture of the Weimar Republic
  • post-Wende literature and culture
  • Museum studies and memory studies

Hispanic Studies

  • Iberian and Latin American literature and history of ideas (19th-21st centuries)
  • Spanish and Latin American cinema and visual culture
  • Gender studies and women's studies
  • Catalan and Galician studies
  • The Spanish avant-garde
  • Comparative and historical linguistics of the romance languages and Portuguese linguistics

Italian Studies

  • Modern Italian literature
  • Manzoni and the Manzonian tradition
  • Italian linguistics
  • Multilingualism in immigrant communities
  • Gender studies
  • Italian cinema

Portuguese Studies

  • Postcolonial, feminist and cultural studies in Portuguese-speaking contexts.
  • Portuguese linguistics: language contact, variation and change; cognitive linguistics and construction grammar.
  • Russian Studies.
  • Literature and culture of the 20th century
  • 19th and 20th century poetry
  • Comparative literature
  • British-Soviet cultural relations

Research Centres

Our research is characterised by world-leading and internationally excellent research centres spanning a wide range of sub-disciplinary fields.

Centre for Translating Cultures

The Centre provides a context to draw together work on ‘Translating Cultures’ within the University. We interpret translating cultures broadly and explore migrations, border-crossing, exile, diaspora, adaptation, intermediality and multimedia from the 1100s to the present day.

Global China Research Centre

The rapid expansion of China and its appetite for internationalisation needs to be understood through the perspective of cultural diversification and global interaction. The centre provides an innovative perspective of seeing China not only as a geographic region, but importantly as a non-European epistemology.


We provide access to excellent computing facilities and training is provided in a broad range of academic and general professional skills, such as compiling a CV, interview skills and time management.

Following the recent refurbishment of the Queen’s Building, you will benefit from a dedicated postgraduate IT suite and lounge, as well as a postgraduate and staff common room. There is also a study room containing a number of private study carrels for research students.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Modern Languages postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Departmental Portfolio Manager
English and French Tutor
Modern Foreign Languages Supply Teacher
Paralegal Assistant
Project Manager and Translator
Project Officer
Sustainability Projects Officer
Translation Internship
Translator/English Trainer
Visiting Lecturer
Aktuel Translations
Co-operative Group
MBE Training and Translation
Middlesex University
Swansea University
University of Exeter
Walber International

Entry requirements 2018

Students applying to enter directly into the MA by Research programme would normally be expected to have a BA degree with 2.1 or equivalent in Modern Languages or related subject or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Scholarships and other funding

Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our research degrees in Modern Languages.

Current available funding

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online