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Study Abroad

Study abroad

Students on the BA programme in Modern Languages and Cultures with Year Abroad spend their third year in the country (or countries) whose language(s) they wish to continue studying in their final year, often splitting their year between two or even three countries. Returning students describe the experience as absolutely transformative, not just for their language skills but for their confidence, personal development and future employability.

During your second year, you will receive advice about which countries to go to and how long to spend there, as well as regular training and preparation for living abroad.

Students exploring Wadi Rum, Jordan, on their year abroad. Photo taken by Durham graduate Poppy Taylor-Smith on their year abroad.

There are three main options for the year abroad:

  • study
  • a British Council assistantship (for those studying French, German, Italian or Spanish),
  • a work placement or internship


University student
Durham’s renowned reputation opens many doors for the year abroad. Connections through alumni, partner universities or language students’ past year abroad experiences mean that the world is your oyster.

Freya Loveric Kemp
Durham University languages student


We have a wide range of international partner universities, which are detailed on our language area pages. Alternatively, we can help you apply to spend an academic year in a foreign university as a private study placement. The School will make a contribution to the cost of fees for students of Russian or Arabic on full-time study for a full academic year, and we have long-standing arrangements with numerous providers in Arabic- and Russian-speaking countries.

Find out more about international partner universities on our language area pages:


My first term studying abroad – a dream come true!

In this blog, Mia shares some parts of her first term in Italy, to give you an idea of what it could be like doing a year abroad during your Durham degree.

Read Mia's blog post

Canal du midi, Béziers, France. Photo taken by our student Katherine Lemieux on their year abroad.


University student
A stage of my time at Durham that I particularly loved was the beginning of fourth year – when everyone had returned from their years abroad. The best part was seeing first-hand how much everyone’s languages skills levelled up – hearing newfound confidence using idioms you wouldn’t find in a textbook or feeling your own grasp of the language becoming more fluent than it had been in that same lecture hall last year.

Ayesha Mahmood
Durham University languages student

British Council assistantship

The British Council assistantship scheme enables you to earn a salary in return for teaching English for up to twelve hours a week for the full school year (six to nine months). In-house training workshops are organised every year for the students undertaking these placements, and the School will support you to apply to this programme.


Work placement or internship

We have built up a considerable portfolio of companies for whom our students have worked in the past, giving you lots of avenues for potential applications. Durham students remain in high demand among overseas employers, and help in securing work abroad is available from the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre.


University student
I wanted to make the best of both working and travelling, so I tried to align working opportunities in several countries to maximise my experience. I started off teaching in Spain over the summer, I then moved for a few months to Quebec in Canada, followed by a marketing internship in France. I then finished off my year in Argentina, but travelled to Uruguay and Brazil while I was there too.

Daria Chetverikova
Durham University languages student
University student
I spent thirteen months abroad across the whole year. It began with Granada, where I did work experience with a tourism company, giving tours around the city. Then I did three weeks learning about flamenco history and singing with a local music school. I went to study a year-long Arabic programme in Beirut and had a brilliant time there, studying everything from ancient and modern literature to Lebanese dialect, history and media. I became a presenter at Radio Beirut, and I also did work experience at a local art gallery. Then in Madrid I did work experience as a receptionist at Sotheby's, the auction house, and then at a local online newspaper called 'The Local'.

Sophia Smith Galer
Durham University languages student

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