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BA Modern Languages

Our Modern Languages BA, starting in September2019, lets you choose one or two from French, German, Russian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese, with the option of taking a further language as a minor subject – including Arabic, Chinese or Japanese.

No prior knowledge of any languages is required, except for French. We stream many of our language classes, from beginner to native speaker, so you’ll be taught at the right level.

You’ll combine practical teaching in written and spoken language with understanding the wider context – the history and society of the nations that speak your chosen languages, their literatures and their roles around the world.

You’ll expand your horizons with modules that go beyond the obvious: students of French can study Mauritian creole, or the quirks of Belgian culture; students of Portuguese learn about Brazilian cinema; students of Russian perform a play in the language even in their first year; options in Spanish range from modern Cuban poetry to colonialism; and students of German are immersed in Austrian and Swiss cultures, too.

You’ll spend your third year studying or working overseas, an exceptional opportunity to put your languages to the test and develop your intercultural competence.

Study one language subject that will appear in your degree title, e.g. Modern Languages (German) BA.

  • Choose from French, German, Russian and Spanish.

Study two language subjects combined and they will both appear in your degree title, e.g. Modern Languages (French and Russian) BA.

  • Choose from Catalan, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
  • You cannot study two languages at beginner level.
  • Catalan and Portuguese cannot be taken together - all other language combinations are possible.

Add a further language as a minor subject from Year 2, alongside your main language(s). The minor subject will not appear in your degree title.

  • Choose from Arabic, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and Portuguese.
  • Some language combinations may be restricted for timetabling reasons. Taking a further language as a minor subject depends on a satisfactory result in your main language(s) in Year 1.

The following are some example narratives for you to get an understanding of routes through our BA in Modern Languages


Aisha’s story

‘I’ve taken German to A-level, and I’m really passionate about it. So I want to focus on it as much as possible at degree level.’

Application

  • Aisha applies for Modern Languages, signalling that she wants to study German alone (post-A-level).
  • In her first year, she devotes as much of her studies as she can to German. This means that she takes not only mandatory modules in German language and culture, but also optional modules – introducing her to fields such as Austrian culture and society, and 19th-century literature.

First Year

  • In her first year, she devotes as much of her studies as she can to German. This means that she takes not only mandatory modules in German language and culture, but also optional modules – introducing her to fields such as Austrian culture and society, and 19th-century literature. 

Second Year

  • In her second year, she does the same thing. Her compulsory modules cover not only German language but also aspects of spoken language and culture in German-speaking countries – this includes working directly with a German-speaking author, who spends time at QMUL as part of an annual Writer in Residence Programme. Her optional modules allow her to experience different areas of her subject: possibilities include German cinema, business language, and modern German thought.

Third Year

  • She spends her year abroad in a German-speaking country. This may be Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. 

Final Year

  • In her final year, she continues to focus on German as much as she can. Alongside a mandatory module in German language, she can choose from a range of options including German Swiss literature and culture; the history of the German language; teaching German in schools; and modern German writing of various kinds. She can also opt to undertake a research project of her own choice.
  • She graduates with BA Modern Languages (German).

Bayan’s story

‘I’ve taken German to A-level, and I want to take it further. I want to try out another language at university as well, but I’m not sure if I want to commit half my degree course to it.’

Application

  • Bayan applies for Modern Languages, signalling that she wants to study German alone (post-A-level).

First Year

  • In her first year, Bayan takes mandatory and optional modules in German language and culture, as well as a module in beginners’ Portuguese – covering both European and Brazilian versions of the language – in which she performs well.
  • She can do one of three things in her second year:
    • Continue to focus on German, but keep studying Portuguese as a minor subject;
    • Drop Portuguese, and focus more exclusively on German;
    • Increase the weighting of Portuguese, to make it a joint honours subject alongside German.

Second Year

  • Bayan decides to increase the weighting of Portuguese, and takes optional modules in Portuguese and Brazilian cinema alongside the language.

Third Year

  • Bayan splits her year abroad between countries where her two languages are spoken. 

Final Year

  • In her final year, she divides her studies more or less equally between her two subjects. Alongside mandatory modules in German and Portuguese language, she takes optional modules ranging from German theatre to the cinema of Portuguese-speaking Africa.
  • Bayan graduates with BA Modern Languages (German and Portuguese).

Chrysi’s story

‘I’ve taken French and Spanish to A-level, and I want to take them both further. I’d also be interested in taking another language at some point.’

Application

  • Chrysi applies for Modern Languages, signalling that she wants to study French and Spanish (both post-A-level).

First Year

  • In her first year, she takes mandatory modules in each subject, covering not only language but also aspects of linguistics, culture, and history. She performs well enough to be able to take a third language in her second year.
  • This means that she can do one of three things in her second year:
    • Continue to study French and Spanish, weighting one or the other more heavily as she prefers;
    • Drop one of her languages, and focus more exclusively on the other;
    • Take a third language as an optional minor subject, alongside French and Spanish.

Second Year

  • She decides to take Arabic as a third language, alongside French and Spanish. Her second-year modules focus mostly on practical language work, but also include some optional topics in French and/or Spanish – the choice ranges from Belgian literature to Latin American culture, via French art and medieval Spain.

Third Year

  • She splits her year abroad between countries where her two major languages are spoken.

Final Year

  • In her final year, she continues to study three languages: French and Spanish as major subjects, Arabic as a minor subject. Her modules focus mostly on practical language work, but also include some optional topics in French and/or Spanish – the choice ranges from modern French literature to Mexican history and culture, via French thought and teaching Spanish in schools.
  • She graduates with BA Modern Languages (French and Spanish).

David's Story

‘I’ve taken German to A-level, and I’d like to take Russian alongside it. I’m not expecting to take a third language in the future, but I’m not ruling it out just yet.’

Application

  • David applies for Modern Languages, signalling that he wants to study German (post-A-level) and Russian (as a beginner).

First Year

  • In his first year, he takes mandatory modules in each subject, covering not only language but also aspects of culture and society. He performs well enough to be able to take a third language in his second year.
  • This means that he can do one of three things in his second year:
    • Continue to study German and Russian, weighting one or the other more heavily as he prefers;
    • Drop one of his languages, and focus more exclusively on the other;
    • Take a third language as an optional minor subject, alongside German and Russian.

Second Year

  • He decides to take Chinese as a third language, alongside German and Russian. His second-year modules focus mostly on practical language work, but also include some optional topics in German and/or Russian – the choice ranges from German thought to Russian cinema, via German business language and Russian fiction.

Third Year

  • He splits his year abroad between countries where his two major languages are spoken.

Final Year

  • In his final year, David continues to study three languages: German and Russian as major subjects, Chinese as a minor subject. His modules focus mostly on practical language work, but also include some optional topics in German and/or Russian – the choice ranges from German Swiss literature and culture to Russian cinema, via the history of the German language and Russian fiction.
  • He graduates with BA Modern Languages (German and Russian).

Elena's story

‘I’ve taken French to A-level, and I want to pick up Spanish as well.’

Application

  • Elena applies for Modern Languages, signalling that she wants to study French (post-A-level) and Spanish (as a beginner).

First Year

  • In her first year, she takes mandatory modules in each subject, covering not only language but also aspects of linguistics, culture, and history. She performs well in both subjects, but finds that she much prefers Spanish to French.
  • She can do one of three things in her second year:
    • Continue to study French and Spanish, weighting one or the other more heavily as she prefers;
    • Drop one of her languages, and focus more exclusively on the other;
    • Take a third language as an optional minor subject, alongside French and Spanish.

Second Year

  • She decides to drop French and continue with Spanish as her sole language. Alongside a mandatory module in Spanish language, she takes a range of optional modules that allow her to experience different areas of her subject. Possibilities include Cuban literature, medieval Spain, and Latin American culture. She can also take modules relating to Brazilian or Portuguese cinema, or Catalan culture.

Third Year

  • Elena spends her year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. This may be in Latin America.

Final Year

  • In her final year, Elena continues to focus on Spanish. Alongside a mandatory module in Spanish language, she can choose from a range of options including Mexican history and culture; early literature in Spanish; teaching Spanish in schools; and aspects of Catalan or Portuguese-language culture. She can also opt to undertake a research project of her own choice.
  • Elena graduates with BA Modern Languages (Spanish).

Francis’s story:

‘I’m a heritage speaker of Spanish, and I want to develop this into a degree.’

Application

  • Francis applies for Modern Languages, signalling that he wants to study Spanish (as a native/heritage speaker).

First Year

  • In his first year, Francis takes not only mandatory modules in Spanish language and culture, but also optional modules – introducing him to fields such as the Spanish Civil War and Catalan culture.

Second Year

  • In his second year, as well as the mandatory module in Spanish language, he takes a module that explores common views about language, and a range of optional modules that allow him to experience different areas of his subject. Possibilities include Cuban literature, medieval Spain, and Latin American culture. He can also take modules relating to Brazilian or Portuguese cinema, or Catalan culture.

Third Year

  • He spends his year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. This may be in Latin America.

Final Year

  • In his final year, Francis takes a mandatory module in Spanish language. Alongside this, he can choose from a range of options including Mexican history and culture; early literature in Spanish; teaching Spanish in schools; and aspects of Catalan or Portuguese-language culture. He can also opt to undertake a research project of his own choice.
  • He graduates with BA Modern Languages (Spanish).

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