Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Career Options & Employability

A BA in Modern Languages from Durham will provide you with an impressive and unique portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and placement experiences that is much valued by employers worldwide. The combination of linguistic ability, intellectual rigour and cultural understanding that you acquire during your course makes you eminently employable in a wide range of careers both here and abroad. These include specialist occupations, such as interpreting, translation and teaching, but also industry, business, marketing, finance, the civil service, the European Union agencies, law and the media. In fact, statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that language graduates are on average 10-15% better paid than other arts graduates and have the lowest unemployment rates overall (only outdone by those in medicine and law). With the UK as a whole now producing fewer and fewer linguists, graduates in Modern Languages are increasingly sought after. As one employer put it, 'the ability to communicate internationally is becoming a pre-requisite for success'.

In particular, the Year Abroad, which is and will continue to be an integral part of all our degree programmes, will give you a headstart in the job market. There is significant evidence that the experience of working and studying abroad delivers not just improved language abilities and increased knowledge but also greatly enhanced intercultural, problem-solving and personal skills. These are a factor in landing first and subsequent jobs for over 70% of language graduates, a significant factor for over 30%, and the determining factor for about 10%. Employers are becoming increasingly aware that language graduates who have spent a year abroad are amongst the most mature, adaptable and independent people entering the job market.

For inspiring examples of where a Durham Modern Languages degree can lead to, read our MLAC Alumni Stories.

“My placement during my year abroad and experience in Peru led to my return to work there after graduation, and promotion to regional manager within 5 months.”

Hannah Barrett, BA (Hons) Modern Languages French & Spanish (2006)

Of those students that left in 2017:

  • 90% are in employment or further study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

  • 89% are in graduate level employment
  • Median salary £25,000

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found here:www.hesa.ac.uk/support/definitions/destinations)

Durham University Modern Language graduates enter a wide range of occupational areas including management; publishing; marketing; translation; teaching; business and finance. Our graduates find employment with a wide range of employers both in the public and private sector including the British Council; Barclay's Wealth; Deloitte; Ernst and Young; Goldman Sachs, Grant Thornton; Pharmacia; PwC; Proctor and Gamble; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the NHS and Teach First. Roles our graduates progress into include copyright and marketing executive; banker; journalist; teacher; trainee tax advisor; research executive; buyer; live subtitler; trainee investment banker; translation checker; writer and translator.

Study and work abroad

MLaC students spend a year abroad after their second year of study. This involves studying and/or working abroad which enriches their cultural awareness and develops the essential employability skills sought by graduate employers.

Employer Testimonial

"Attributes gained from a humanities degree, such as Modern Languages, would be extremely adhesive to life at Deloitte.  If you invest in yourself by qualifying in an undergraduate degree at Durham and developing your raw talent, a Firm like Deloitte can polish the edges and offer you a shining career path".

What our students say

"I do feel that some of the courses offered through MLaC helped me to better understand the cultures I was dealing with, thus facilitating stronger business relationships with my foreign suppliers. This linguistic and cultural knowledge has proved invaluable in setting up a business that operates across many European territories."
Helen Grant, BA (Hons) Modern Languages (French) 2008
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