The Structure of the Degree Programme
This section answers the following questions:
- What qualifications will I need to start on the programme?
- What will I be able to study?
- What is meant by a language ‘beginner’? and a ‘subsidiary subject’?
The minimum requirement for entry to the programme is three A Levels. At least one of these A Levels must be in a modern European language*. Conditional offers will normally stipulate the minimum grades required as follows:
- Two A Levels at grade A plus
- One A Level at grade B
with at least grade B at A Level in any language in which you wish to take a post-A Level course.
Do note, however, that entry is competitive and the above standard offer is normally made only to candidates who look likely to do better. Key Skills qualifications are welcomed, but are not taken into account as part of the entry requirements.
We make equivalent offers to students with qualifications other than A Level, such as the IB, FB, Scottish Advanced Highers and Irish Leaving Certificate, etc and students should contact the School for further information.
The programme is made up of courses in the six main languages taught in the School, with entry at two levels:
- Post-A Level At least grade B at A Level required in the language concerned.
- Beginners At least grade B at A Level in a foreign European language.
Courses in each of the languages are available as follows:
|French||Post-A Level only|
|German||Post-A Level only|
|Italian||Post-A Level and Beginners|
|Russian||Post-A Level and Beginners|
|Spanish||Post-A Level and Beginners|
How the degree is constructed
The degree course lasts four years, with the third year spent abroad. The programme structure is extremely flexible. You can study one, two or three languages from the six main languages offered by the School: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. At least one language must be studied post-A Level. You may also study one or even two new languages in beginners' courses, although you cannot begin two of the main languages at beginners’ level in the same year.
All Durham degrees are made up of eighteen modules, six taken in each year in Durham. For the Modern Languages degree:
- You must take at least two modules in each main language that you study.
- You must take the 'core language module' in each main language that you study.
- At the end of the first year you must pass an examination or other form of prescribed assessment in each module that you have taken.
If you wish to study only one language, you will take 4 modules in it in each of your first and second years, and all 6 modules in your final year. In your first and second years, you will study a subsidiary subject chosen from outside the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. NB: it may be possible to begin a second language in your second year in place of an outside subsidiary subject.
If you wish to study two languages, you can, depending on which languages you choose, study them in equal proportions (3 modules in each), or in the proportion 4+2. These proportions may in most cases be varied from year to year of your course and in some cases you can decide to drop one of your two languages in the final year. If you study two of the main languages of the School you may not take a subsidiary subject from outside Modern Languages and Cultures; such a combination is possible only within the Combined Studies programme.
If you wish to study three languages, you must study them in the proportion 2+2+2. If you study three languages in your first year, you may reduce the number in later years of your course. It is also possible to move from two languages in your first year to three in your second by taking up a new language as a beginner in the second year.
Please note that we regard three-language courses as very demanding.
Here is a summary of the maximum number of modules that may be taken in each language in each year:
You will see that you are free to vary the number of languages that you study from year to year. At the beginning of the second year you may, subject to availability and the approval of the departments concerned, take two modules of a new language as a beginner (Arabic, Italian, Russian or Spanish). Or you may be able to take a one-module option in Catalan (see under Spanish below); or, if you are studying Russian, you have the option of a module in Croatian with Serbian; or in Arabic a module of Persian. Most of these new subjects may be continued in the fourth year if you so choose.
N.B. you may not in any year study more than three languages altogether, including Catalan and Croatian with Serbian.
What is a main language
A main language is a subject you choose to continue studying post A Level and we offer post A Level French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
What is meant by a beginners' language
You may start the study of a beginners' language in Arabic, Italian, Russian or Spanish, alongside one or two main (post A Level) languages. You may not take two beginners' languages in the same year; however, you may pick up a new beginners' language in the second year.
These are only available to students studying just one main language. They are chosen on arrival in Durham, at registration. Students normally study one subject for two years, but it may be possible to study two different subjects in two consecutive years, normally both at first-year level.
Subjects available are listed in the University Prospectus under Combined Studies (in Arts and in Social Sciences). Please note that some subjects may have an entrance qualification (eg specified grade at A Level). Please note also that some departments limit the number of subsidiary students that they take, and entry to particular subjects cannot be guaranteed. Timetable constraints may also limit the modules which can be chosen.