BA History and Modern Languages

UCAS codeVR08
Duration4 Years
Typical offerAAA-ABB; IB: 36-32; BTEC DDD-DDM
  • History
  • Modern Languages
Location Streatham (Exeter)


Choosing to study History and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter is the first step on a journey through the human race in historic times: our activities, ideas, creations, institutions and impact. At Exeter, we want students who are fascinated by the past because we don’t just teach history, we train historians. By combining this well-established area of study with Modern Languages, you are able to gain a truly unique perspective into the cultural elements of history, seeing it from the perspective of others and fundamentally broadening your own outlook. Learning a second language opens a world of possibilities both personally and professionally. This four-year degree course includes a well-structured year abroad, which may be spent teaching English, on a work placement or studying at one of our renowned partner universities to further develop your language skills.

In History, The University of Exeter has a long-standing reputation for excellence. We ranked in the top 10 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and the Complete University Guide 2020. We are in the Top 100 worldwide for History and are 8th in the UK for world leading research. On this course, you will look back over centuries of history from the early Medieval period to the 21st century. Subject modules include international, economic, cultural and social history across many geographical areas including the Americas, parts of Asia, Britain and Europe. Students can experience and contribute to cutting-edge research through current work our expert faculty are undertaking in areas such as the history of Britain, continental Europe and on world and public history. With support from your tutors, you will learn essential skills like source evaluation and interpretation and historical writing to hone your talents as a historian.

To complement your education in History, you will choose from one of the seven modern languages taught at Exeter. These are French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Chinese and Russian, all ranked in the top 10 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. You will not only grasp the fundamental language skills such as reading, speaking, translating and writing, but explore the rich cultural backdrop behind your chosen language. In depth study of literature, politics, national and regional identities, film and philosophy will enhance your understanding of the language and let you draw interesting comparisons from your historical studies. Exeter has a wealth of expertise in covering the cultures of the major European nations and China as well as those in the postcolonial nations where our core languages are spoken, particularly Latin America, Francophone and Portuguese speaking Africa.

As with all our humanities degrees, this course equips you with a solid foundation of transferable skills including; communication, persuasion, problem-solving, critical analysis and collaborative working. Incorporating a modern language further reinforces your skills base to create unique career opportunities. Recent graduates are now working in areas such as marketing and communications, journalism, publishing, law, banking, teaching and translation.

Programme variations

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 History and Modern Languages degree programme is made up of compulsory (core) and optional modules, which are worth 15 or 30 credits each. Full-time undergraduate students need to complete modules worth a total of 120 credits each year.

Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or just widen your intellectual horizons.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Final year

Full module descriptions

For full module descriptions from previous years, please visit our Humanities student website.

Entry requirements 2020

Typical offer


Required subjects

Dependent on your chosen language; see table below.

Languages and levels for Combined Honours programmes with Modern Languages

Study a new language at Beginners level (excluding programmes with Arabic)

Available languages Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish
Language requirements GCSE grade B/grade 5 (or equivalent) in any modern foreign language

Study your A level language at Advanced level (including programmes with Arabic)

Available languages French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish
Language requirements A level grade B or IB HL 5 (or equivalent) in the language chosen at advanced level

Completing your UCAS form

In the section named ‘further details’ on your UCAS application form please indicate in the ‘choices’ field the language and route you wish to study using the abbreviations below, separated by a space:

French Fren
Chinese (Mandarin) Chin
German Germ
Italian Ital
Portuguese Port
Russian Russ
Spanish Span

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.
  • French, 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. Portuguese and Chinese can normally only be studied from beginner’s level, not from A Level; students of these two languages reach degree level in final year.

Additional selection criteria

We are looking for well-qualified students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subject.

In addition to the specific requirements listed above, we look for excellent A level* results/predictions and we may also take into account results up to and including GCSEs* and AS Levels* as part of our holistic assessment of an application.

*Equivalent qualifications will be considered. For more information about our equivalencies for specific qualifications please contact our Admissions Office.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements

If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.

International Foundation programmes

Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:

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

Throughout the History programmes stress is laid on the need to analyse, discuss and deploy historical evidence in a variety of settings and not simply on the ability to memorise. You will learn through lectures, tutorials and seminars, with a growing emphasis at each successive level on student-led learning.

Modules are designed to encourage you to think about long-term developments and processes of historical change, and to make comparisons between countries and cultures. This helps you progress from the more tightly defined topics studied at A level. Modules are also designed to encourage you to think and write analytically about these broad subjects. They emphasise historical questions that require you to identify patterns across time, or between countries, and to isolate common or competing trends, instead of concentrating on short-term or single explanations.

Our teaching within French 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.


Modules are assessed by a combination of exams and coursework (essays, projects and other written and oral tasks).

You will have to pass assessments in your first year to proceed to the second year but they do not count towards your final degree classification. The assessments in the second year, year abroad and final year contribute to your final degree award.

Study abroad

As an undergraduate student in the department of Modern Languages you will spend a 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 1 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.

Erasmus study

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.

Students Abroad Representative

Every year a Students Abroad Representative is elected for the Guild, whose job it is to take care of all Exeter students doing a year abroad. They will ensure that your problems or issues are addressed, that your questions are answered, and that you are kept updated with information about Exeter and the Guild while you are away from the University. The current Students Abroad Rep can always be found on the Students' Guild website, under ‘Student Representatives’. 

Facebook group

Past and current Year Abroad Students are welcome to join our Facebook group to connect with others, share advice and photos.

Contact us

For any enquiries about Year Abroad support please contact

Year Abroad Contacts

Dr Francesco Goglia


Dr Ting Guo



History graduates from the University of Exeter have an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and compete very successfully in the employment market.

Studying History at the University of Exeter provides you with skills that are attractive to employers and relevant for a wide range of careers. Alongside in-depth subject knowledge you’ll develop skills in researching; analysing and assessing sources; written and verbal communication; managing and interpreting information and developing ideas and arguments. Our recent graduates have since secured positions in the Heritage and Arts sector, with organisations such as the National Trust and TVF Media.

Studying in History will also equip you with valuable skills for graduate-level work in other sectors. A degree in History provides good opportunities to develop skills that are attractive to many employers, such team work; problem solving and organisational skills. Our recent History graduates have pursued careers in:

  • TV
  • Education
  • Retail Management
  • Recruitment
  • Charities
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Journalism

Other recent graduates have progressed to postgraduate courses in:

  • MA Conflict, Security and Development
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • MA English Literary Studies
  • MA History
  • MSC International Management
  • PGCE


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. 

Find out more about careers in History and Modern Languages

Contact us

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Phone: +44 (0)1392 724202

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Website: Visit the History website