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Durham University


R002 Modern Languages and Cultures with Year Abroad BA Undergraduate 2021


Please note: 2021-22 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

UCAS code R002
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 4 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


We offer post A level courses in French, German, Italian, Russian and Hispanic Studies. These courses are open to students who have an A level (at least grade A) or equivalent qualification in that language. We also offer beginners’ courses in Arabic, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Beginners can take cultural modules alongside post-A level students, and completely merge with the advanced stream in the final year.

Here are some examples of how to combine languages:

  • You might choose to study one language (chosen from French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish [Hispanic Studies]). You will need an A level at the appropriate grade pass in your chosen subject. However, if you wish to study Arabic as a single language, you will need an A level at the appropriate grade pass in at least one other foreign language. You take four modules in the language area of your choice, along with a further two modules in a subsidiary subject of your choice outside the School in both your first and second years. You then take your year abroad and return to your final year to take either six modules in your chosen language or five modules in your chosen language and one module from a subject studied in your second year. Subsidiary subjects may be chosen from those available in departments outside of the School, subject to module availability, individual entry requirements and timetable compatibility.
  • You might choose to study two languages (chosen from Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish [Hispanic Studies]). These languages can normally be divided 3 modules +3 modules between two languages, or 4+2 as you prefer (subject to some variation in module availability between the languages).
  • You might initially choose to study three languages (chosen from Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish [Hispanic Studies]), which you study in equal proportions (2+2+2). After your first year, you will be required to drop one of these and study no more than two languages in Years 2 and 3. 
  • There are three ways of combining study of a language and its culture with another subject throughout your degree (with a year abroad). Combined Honours in Social Sciences and Liberal Arts allow flexible combinations of one or two languages with other subjects, while the Modern European Languages and History degree allows you to study one language (Advanced or Beginners, excluding Arabic) and History in roughly equal proportions.

Year 1

You will take a core language module for each of the languages you are studying. This is a single module for all languages studied post-A level and a double module for beginners’ languages. These core modules focus on the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. In addition, you will choose from a wide range of modules dealing with various aspects of the literature, film, art, history and politics of the different cultures you are studying. These cultural modules aim to develop students’ independent research and analytical skills as well as introducing them to the cultures in question.

All first-year modules are intended to function as introductions to and more general overviews of areas of study in which you will specialise later in your degree. They have been designed to reflect a commitment to diversity in terms of resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Year 2

You will continue to take a core language module for each of the languages you are studying. These core modules focus on and continue to develop the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. In addition, you will choose from a wide range of modules on the literature, film, art, history and politics of the cultures you are studying. All second-year modules build on skills and knowledge acquired in the first year and allow you to specialise more in areas which interest you (from medieval literature to contemporary film).

Year 3

Your third year is spent abroad and you divide your time between countries whose languages you are going to study at Level 3 in your final year. You can spend this time as an English assistant in a school, as a student in a university and/or in employment of some kind. During your year abroad you will complete a  summative Year Abroad assignment for each of the languages they intend to study at Level 3.

Year 4

You will continue to take a compulsory language module for each of the languages you are studying. These compulsory modules focus on and continue to develop to a high level the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. In your final year, you will also research and write a dissertation on an aspect of culture or cultural production, supervised by a member of staff with expertise in the selected topic area.

In addition, you will choose from a wide range of specialist modules on literature, film, art, history and politics relating to the cultures you are studying. These modules are designed around staff research expertise. All fourth-year modules build on skills and knowledge acquired earlier in your degree and allow you to specialise still further in areas which interest you (such as the work of a particular writer or the culture of a particular period).

We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2021 entry from September 2020.

Study Abroad

We attach great importance to your time abroad, during the third year of your degree, which you may spend as an English assistant in a school, as a student in a foreign university, or in employment with an overseas organisation. This is a time of enormous linguistic and personal development from which you should gain a high level of fluency in your language(s) and enjoy a unique opportunity to make new friends, appreciate new cultures and learn to work and study in new ways. Employers at home and abroad are impressed by the lasting benefits, especially in increased linguistic confidence, intercultural agility and general self-motivation.

During the year abroad you will complete a summative Year Abroad assignment for each of the languages you intend to study at Level 3. The assignments will be submitted before the start of the first term of your final year of study. You will need to pass these in order to fulfil the requirements of the BA (Hons) Modern Languages with Year Abroad.

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

Typically, you will have 10-11 hours of classroom teaching per week in the three years of your degree in Durham. How much of this is devoted to language learning will depend on how many languages you study (up to three in the first year and up to two in the second and final years). Post-A level core language modules mostly involve 2 teaching hours per week, while beginners’ core language courses in the first year are double modules with 5 or 6 teaching hours per week.

Language classes develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills as well as grammatical understanding. Optional modules focusing on a wide range of forms of culture (literary and visual) and cultural history are mostly taught by means of weekly lectures and fortnightly seminars, some of which are conducted in the target language.

Classroom teaching is an important part of your learning, but this is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. The majority of your time will be spent working independently, reading widely, making notes, finding sources of information, listening to and viewing audiovisual materials. For each hour of timetabled classroom teaching, you will be expected to carry out approximately four hours of independent study and research.

A significant proportion of this time will be spent preparing and completing assessment tasks. In core language and specialised translation/interpreting modules, heavy emphasis is placed on assessment as an ongoing element of the learning process, progressively preparing you for written and oral assessments. In cultural modules, most assessment is largely consisting of a mix of essays and written examinations, with oral presentations in some modules. In addition to regular support and feedback from module teachers and conveners, your learning will be supported at the individual level by a personal Academic Adviser, who will meet with you three times a year to discuss your overall progress. This support network continues during the Year Abroad when you are supported by a designated member of staff.

The Year Abroad is a key element in the progressive, developmental education Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham seeks to provide, fostering the accelerated acquisition of language skills and expanding intercultural competence. The amount of time spent on academic study during the Year Abroad will vary according to whether you choose to do work or study placements. You will, however, work independently during your time abroad on preparation for your final-year dissertation and the  summative Year Abroad assignment(s) submitted at the beginning of your final year.

In general, there will be an increasing emphasis on independent learning and research skills, culminating in your final-year dissertation. Rather than imparting detailed information, the main aim of the teaching you receive will be to help you to learn how to learn – guiding you towards using resources effectively, thinking critically and formulating persuasive arguments.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offerAAA including French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD including A level requirements as above.

IB Diploma score37 with 666 in higher level subjects. Please see above for required languages

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. 
  • Grade A at A level or equivalent in French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish is required to study that subject at advanced level.
  • Grade A at A level, or equivalent, in a modern European language is required to begin the study of a new beginners’ language, including Arabic.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £21,730.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £21,730.00 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 91% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 83% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £25,750.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here


Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures


In a world of increasing cultural and economic globalisation, the study of modern languages provides many opportunities.

Employers of all kinds are looking for ‘global graduates’: people with excellent communication skills, the ability to mediate sensitively between cultures, and the confidence to adapt to different environments. At Durham University, you can specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish (Hispanic Studies), Italian, Japanese and Russian.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2021.
  • 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2021.
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2021.


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures web pages.


We have over 110 teaching staff, including over 40 language teaching fellows and native speaker language assistants. The recently refurbished language laboratories have excellent audio-visual facilities and both main lecture rooms and small group teaching rooms are equipped for the increasing integration of film and other audio-visual material. The School’s Open Access Centre is situated in the same building, offering further self-access resources. Durham has first-class library facilities, with the main University collections supplemented by those of college libraries.