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Durham University

Department of History

RV92 Modern European Languages and History with Year Abroad BA Undergraduate  2019



UCAS code RV92
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
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Course Summary

Course Summary


This four-year Joint Honours degree allows you to further your interest in the study of a modern European language and related cultural topics alongside exploring different periods and themes of history.

Year 1

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

All first-year modules are intended to function as introductions to and more general overviews of areas of study in which it is possible to specialise later in the degree.

In the first year, you will take up to three modules in History. These may be chosen from the wide range of first-year modules available, but you must choose at least one module in Medieval/Early Modern History and at least one module in Modern History. There are no compulsory History modules on the Joint Honours degree.

The History modules on offer change each year, as they reflect the research interests of staff; therefore we cannot guarantee in advance that a particular module will be running. Some of the modules running in recent years have included:

  • Tensions of Empire: British Imperialism 1763-1963
  • Reformation Europe, 1500-1650
  • New Heaven, New Earth: Latin Christendom and the World, 1000-1300
  • The Birth of Western Society, 300-1050 AD
  • The Making of Modern Africa: Change and Adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa, 1880-2000.

Year 2

You will continue to take a compulsory language module, in which you will continue to develop the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. In addition, you will choose one, two or three from a wide range of modules on the literature, film art, history and politics of the culture 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).

In the second year, you will take up to four modules in History, choosing from those available in year two. Second-year History modules tend to focus more on particular periods and events, and there are fewer survey courses. One of the History modules you take may be ‘Conversations with History’. This is a seminar-driven, student-led module, which encourages you to think about the way in which history is written. Students choose one from a range of possible strands in this module, each of which focuses on a particular historical debate or phenomenon. You must choose one History module which is either Medieval or Early Modern; and one which is Modern (the Conversations strand will count as one of these choices). There is no other restriction on choice.

There are no compulsory History modules for students on the Joint Honours degree.

Conversations strands:

  • The Usable Past
  • The Built Environment
  • History and Guilt
  • Power and Peoples
  • Inventing the Middle Ages
  • Monarchy
  • Empire, Liberty and Governance.

Other modules in previous years have included:

  • Hard Times: British Society c. 1800-1901
  • Modern China’s Transformations
  • The American Half-century: the United States Since 1945
  • The King’s Two Bodies: Rulership in Late Medieval Europe
  • The Ottoman World, 1400-1700.

Year 3

The third year is spent abroad as an English assistant in a school, as a student in a university or in employment of some kind. During the year abroad you complete a Target Language Research Project related to the country you visit supervised by a designated Year Abroad project supervisor.

Students do not take any assessed modules in History during the third year.

Year 4

You will continue to take a single core language module, developing your skills to an advanced level. You will also choose from a wide range of specialist modules on literature, film, art, history and politics in the language you are studying, and you may be able to take a specialist language modules such as translation or interpreting.

These modules are designed around staff research expertise. All fourth-year modules build on skills and knowledge acquired earlier in the 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).

You will usually take the equivalent of up to three modules in History, though it may be possible to take the equivalent of up to four by varying the number of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC) modules chosen. You may choose a triple-module Special Subject, taught entirely through seminars, which involves close study of primary sources. This involves working in a small group with a specialist in the field – with a three-hour seminar every week. You may instead choose to do supervised independent research leading to the writing of an extended dissertation.

Depending on your other choices, you may be able to take one other single module in the third year: third-year History single modules are all strongly reflexive in character, encouraging you to think about the ways in which historical knowledge is produced.

You will choose your own dissertation topic, through consultation with a supervisor. There are some limits, set by the availability of primary material and the expertise of supervisors, but the potential range of topics is very wide indeed. You will research and write a dissertation either on a historical topic (supervised by the History Department) or on an aspect of culture or cultural production (supervised by MLAC). As with modules at other levels, the precise choice of Special Subject and third-year single modules changes from year to year. Some of the History modules that have run in recent years are:

Special Subjects:

  • A World Turned Upside Down: Radicalism in the English Revolution
  • The Disappearance of Claudine Rouge: Murder, Mystery and Microhistory in Early Modern France
  • Light Beyond the Limes: the Christianisation of Pagan Europe, 300-1000
  • From War to Cold War: US Foreign Policy, c. 1944-1948.

Single modules:

  • Anglo-Saxon Invasion? The Search for English Origins
  • Revolution and History
  • Interpreting Conflict in Post-Colonial Africa
  • History of American Capitalism.

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 2019 entry from September 2018.

Study Abroad


The Department participates in the University-wide overseas exchanges with:

  • Boston College (USA),
  • the University of British Columbia (Canada),
  • the University of Hong Kong (China) 
  • the National University of Singapore (Singapore).

If you study on the four-year Joint Honours in Modern European Languages and History degree, you will spend your third year abroad at a European university or a work placement as part of the University’s ERASMUS exchanges.

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

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 an academic assignment related to each of the countries in which you stay. You will need to pass these in order to fulfil the requirements of the BA in Modern European Languages and History (with Year Abroad).

Course Detail

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Learning and Teaching

Course Learning and Teaching

Typically, as a student of Modern European Languages and History you will receive an average of approximately 8 hours of timetabled teaching per week during the three years that the programme is delivered in Durham. The amount of contact time that you receive will vary depending on the number and type of modules that you choose to study in the Department of History and the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Teaching will include a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and language classes. Lectures introduce broad historical questions and offer contextualisation and critical commentary; seminars provide an opportunity for you to develop your critical skills through discussion; language classes include grammar, oral and audio-visual components and a variety of techniques to develop your language skills.
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. Your independent learning will be supported by extensive resources in the University Library and the Centre for Foreign Language Study’s Open Access Centre, and through resource packages provided through the on-line learning environment. You will also be encouraged to attend sessions on independent study skills in areas such as using library resources, effective note-taking, contributing to seminars, and writing essays.
The Year Abroad is a key element in the progressive, developmental education that the programme seeks to provide, as it accelerates your acquisition of language skills and expands your 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 to prepare for your final-year dissertation and the Target Language Research Project(s) submitted at the beginning of the final year.

In the final year, more of your time will be spent conducting independent research. The compulsory dissertation requires you to undertake an independent research project by establishing your own research agenda and exploring extended reading lists. This gives you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of your research topic.Your project will be supported by one-to-one meetings with your supervisor.
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 every student is supported by a designated Target Language Research Project Supervisor.In addition, you will be encouraged to attend the extensive programmes of research-related activities in the Department of History and the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, including research seminars, public lectures from high-profile guest speakers, and other academic events organised by the student-run societies.


Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

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. Please contact our Admissions Selectors
  • Grade A at A Level or equivalent in French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish is required
  • Grade A in French or German at A Level, or equivalent, is required to study French or German
  • Grade A in Russian, Spanish or Italian at A Level, or equivalent, is required to study that subject at advanced level
  • Grade A or equivalent is required in History at A Level for Modern European Languages and History
  • Ancient History is acceptable as one of three A Levels but History A Level must also be taken
  • We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
  • Typical IB score 37 to include 666 in higher level subjects. Higher level subject requirements apply, see above
  • Key skills qualifications are welcomed, but are not taken into account as part of the entry requirements
  • Please consult the University website for required evidence of English language proficiency
  • 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

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,250.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £19,250.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

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