About the course
Our BA Philosophy and Modern Languages is a four-year course which provides a wide-ranging and flexible philosophy curriculum, embracing both analytic (Anglo-American) and Continental (modern European) trends of philosophical thought. It enables you to study one (or two) modern languages (out of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese) and must take your major language up to Mastery Level. Your third year is spent abroad during which time you experience, engage with and integrate into another culture, either by a period of study at a partner institution offering the opportunity to operate in a different academic, linguistic and cultural environment, or by working as a language assistant and thereby acquiring valuable vocational experience of working abroad. Provided that this experience is part of a full year Erasmus exchange, your fees will be waived by the University.
In French, German, Italian and Spanish, we offer core modules at all six different levels recognised in the Common European Framework. Cultural and professional skills modules taught entirely in the language being studied are also available. Our intensive modules (in German, Italian and Spanish), combined with a summer vacation course in a country you are studying the language of, enable you to reach level B2 (advanced) from scratch in a year. Portuguese can be studied from scratch (via a conversion module) if you have A-level Spanish or equivalent. For French, an A-level or equivalent is required if you intend to take French as the major language.
In your first year you will take Introduction to Philosophy which introduces you to moral philosophy and look at what is philosophy, looking at the history of Western philosophy. You will also take two social science options and a language option; the social science option can be a language. In your second and final year you will take two philosophy modules, one language module and one social science module, which can be a further language module. You will also be developing an appropriate level of fluency in your chosen language and a corresponding level of proficiency in translation, interpreting, and creative writing.
Why study BA Philosophy with Modern Languages at Essex?
As a student of modern languages and philosophy you will experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests. There are number of societies within our Students’ Union which allow you to continue your interest in languages including; Modern Languages, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese student scholars. You can continue your interest in philosophy through our Philosophy Society, PPE society and Liberty League. In the most recent student satisfaction survey we received 96 per cent overall satisfaction for English Studies.
Our teaching focuses not only on developing your learning of languages but also providing you with practical skills for the application of your languages like interpretation and translation. Our research and teaching in philosophy is unusual in the British context for its pluralistic outlook, so you can study the variety of philosophical traditions which have developed on the continent of Europe, as well as Anglo-American or ‘analytical’ philosophy. Our acknowledged research strengths mean we are home to the journal Inquiry. All of this makes Essex a stimulating and exciting environment in which to study.
Why study this subject?
Languages open doors to other cultures, other ways of thinking, and work opportunities. Similarly, philosophical reflection is a powerful tool for understanding and criticising both our own practices and those of different cultures. You will acquire language skills and develop analytical and problem-solving abilities, which are typical of philosophy, greatly broadening your perspective. You will be in a good position for further studies or a professional career in a range of industries including; education, interpreting, international government, media and tourism. We endeavour to equip you with a range of transferable cognitive, practical and key skills, and a foundation for further study, employment and lifelong learning.
As a modern languages student you will have access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Sanako and Melissi Digital Classroom software. Our labs are also equipped with top of the range computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens. Our Open Access Lab has satellite TVs with DVD players so you can watch TV in the language you are studying. Our media studio is a recording studio equipped like a TV studio; we use this for role plays, news reading, presentations and debates. Our School of Philosophy and Art History offers a well-organised student support system which will direct you to the best source of advice and support in the case of personal or academic difficulties.
Study abroad/placement opportunities
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we value the experience and opportunity that study abroad can give you.
For our modern language courses, we offer two possibilities for your year abroad. The first allows you to teach English in a school, gaining valuable work experience and transferable skills whilst earning money. Alternatively you can study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. These are: France (Lyon 3 and Nice), Quebec (Université Laval), Germany (Berlin FUB and Trier), Italy (Bologna, Trento and Urbino), Portugal (Coimbra) or Brazil (Florianopolis and Salvador), Spain (Murcia and Granada), Argentina (Córdoba), Cuba (Havana) or Mexico (Mérida and Monterrey). You may be eligible for an ERASMUS grant if you spend the year abroad at one of these European universities.
The special characteristics of our course are flexibility and choice. In your first and second years you take a compulsory module and three optional modules, one must be a philosophy module and another must be a language option. During your final year all your modules are optional, two must be philosophy modules, one must be a language module and one can be a social science module. You will spend your third year abroad. There is a great deal of choice for these optional modules due to the extensive range of modules offered by our departments.
With a small number of exceptions, if you successfully complete the first year of your BA, then you are qualified to enter the second year of that course and a range of other courses: for example, if you take economics, politics, philosophy and sociology, then you have a choice of at least nine possible single or joint honours courses at the end of your first year. This means you can change your course, providing you have taken the appropriate pre-requisites and places are available.
We operate a credit framework for our awards, which is based on principles widely used across the UK university sector. Each module has a credit rating attached and our standard three-year course consists of 360 credits (120 credits in your first year, and 240 credits across your second and final years).
Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.
Year 1 core and optional modules
Introduction to Philosophy;
Introduction to Ancient Philosophy or one social science option;
one language option; and
one language option or one social science option
Year 2 core and optional modules
Rationalists and Empiricists or one philosophy option;
Ethics or one philosophy option;
one language option; and
one language option or one social science option
Year 3 core and optional modules
Year 4 core and optional modules
Two philosophy options;
one language option; and
one language option or one social science option
As a new undergraduate, you may find university-level learning, assessment and studying differs to school or college. Here at Essex, we understand and recognise this by having support in place within our departments, schools and centres, particularly during your first year when you may notice the change more.
Your teaching for philosophy modules mainly takes the form of lectures and classes. A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your philosophy modules every week. Your language modules will not have any lectures but will instead have 3 or 4 hours of classes each week.
Only the second and third years count towards your degree classification, however you must pass your first year in order to progress into your second year. If you do fail any of your first-year modules, then you are often allowed to re-sit exams in September.
Teaching methods and styles
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, the modules you take employ a variety of teaching methods.
In your study of modern languages we use a wealth of activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play activities and class presentations. We combine traditional methods with state-of-the-art technologies and materials to create an ideal learning environment. Our teaching staff are native or bilingual speakers of the language they teach. Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature. Your philosophy modules employ lectures which inform you, combined with discussion classes. We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, as such we try to keep our classes as small as possible.
Methods of assessment
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we use a variety of assessment methods depending on your course.
For modern languages, your modules are most often assessed by coursework and an examination at the end of the year. You may be assessed using role-play activities, class presentations, essays, book reports, translations, project work, web-based assignments, as well as class tests and you will have an exam in the summer. In your philosophy modules your assessment is in the form of written coursework and end-of-year examination. In your second and third years, you may write an optional essay in order to improve your coursework mark. Usually, coursework grade and examination results are equally weighted in calculating the grade for your module.
At a time when companies and organisations in the UK and abroad are struggling to find university graduates who are fluent in at least one other language, apart from English, being an Essex modern languages graduate places you in a very advantageous position. You will be able to speak and write fluently, or to a very competent standard, in up to four languages. Our courses provide you with sought-after skills such as communication – both written and spoken – critical thinking, presentation and team work.
Studying at a university abroad, or working as a language assistant in your third year, provides you with insights into other cultures and enables you to adapt to new and changing surroundings. These skills have value in a job market that is becoming increasingly global and will be appreciated by employers, whatever career path you follow.
In your final year, you acquire translation, interpreting and subtitling skills which have led our recent graduates to go on to postgraduate studies in these fields. Language skills are in scarce supply and can be used in almost any job. Our graduates become teachers, translators, administrators and journalists. Their valued language skills have enabled them to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism, as well as for a host of UK and international companies.
Your employability and Essex
At Essex we take your employability seriously, helping you become a rounded individual with the ability to succeed, whatever your plans. You’ll find your department works with our Employability and Careers Centre to inform you about options to study or work overseas, your Faculty Employability Coordinator finds degree-related work placements, and our Students’ Unions ensures that, annually, over 700 students volunteer and more than 4,000 get involved in sports, clubs and societies.
At Essex you can gain new skills that look good on your CV, like paid placements through our frontrunners scheme, graduate-level paid internships, and opportunities to develop discipline-specific skills as part of your studies.
We help you understand your skills, and how to demonstrate these to an employer. You can get our extra-curricular employability award – the Big Essex Award – recorded on your transcript, receive one-to-one advice on careers, use our Essex CV guides on applying for work, learn from famous entrepreneurs and take part in workshops, and meet employers through on-campus events.
We develop your employability through fantastic opportunities, and give you the tools to explore the meaning of your unique experiences, so you are ready for your future.
Here at Essex, our students can undertake period of study or work abroad specifically tailored to his/her academic interests and future career plans. You are taught and assessed by your host university, so assessment may be in the form of written papers, oral or written exams, lab or project work, research, or work-based learning. All successfully completed pre-approved modules will be credited towards your Essex degree.
Study abroad is an excellent opportunity for personal development. It affords you the chance to become immersed in another culture over a sustained period, coming to know a country and its people in a way that you could not hope to as a tourist. It is also an opportunity to experience a different educational system and develop different skills. You learn to view the world (and your academic discipline) from another perspective, becoming more independent and confident.
Study abroad also enhances your employability. It helps your CV stand out from other candidates and signals to an employer that you have maturity, adaptability and organisational skills. As the world of business is becoming increasingly international, the experience of living abroad is, in itself, attractive to many employers. Depending upon your study abroad destination, you may also gain fluency in another language, which is a highly attractive skill to have as you enter the employment market.
If you are interested in learning another language then our Languages for All programme enables you to study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.
Within our Department of Language and Linguistics, we offer taught Masters courses and research supervision for PhD and MPhil. Our taught courses typically consist of eight one-term modules assessed by coursework and a 16,000-word dissertation, which allows you to focus in depth on a topic of special interest from April onwards. The flexible modular structure means that our MAs can be followed on a 12-month full-time and a 24-month part-time basis.
Comprising 24 academic staff, we offer teaching and research supervision in: language acquisition, language learning and language teaching; culture and communication; psycholinguistics; language disorders; sociolinguistics; and theoretical and descriptive linguistics.
GCSE English: C
IB: 32-30 points (we consider IB certificates at the Higher Level on a case-by-case basis)
Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 6 level three credits at distinction and the remainder at merit (or above) or achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 45 level three credits at merit (or above).
If French or Portuguese is taken as the major language, A-level French or Portuguese/Spanish (or equivalent) is required. German, Italian and Spanish can be studied as the major language either from scratch, via our intensive route, or via our post A-level route. All languages can be studied from scratch as the minor language.
If you are interested in studying a language for which you consider yourself to be a native speaker, please contact our Undergraduate Admissions Office.
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5 in each component (or equivalent). Different requirements apply for second year entry.
We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
We welcome applications from mature students, students interested in direct entry to the second year and students wishing to defer entry.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.