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BA Modern Languages

Why we're great

  • Great flexibility and choice: You can study up to four languages choosing between French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese from beginner or post-A level standard. Mandarin Chinese is available at beginner’s level.
  • We specialise in developing translation, interpreting and subtitling skills at undergraduate level using the latest technology in our multimedia labs.
  • Our study abroad opportunities include studying at a partner university, combining study and work experience, or taking up a British council assistantship.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: R900
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Language and Linguistics
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

Language is fundamental to our thought, our relationships, and our civilisations. Through language we transmit knowledge, from inviting someone for coffee, to promoting the latest scientific theory, to settling global political disputes.

Where most universities will teach you a maximum of three languages, on our course you can study up to four invaluable modern languages, choosing from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.

Each of these languages is widely used in the business world, and we take you to a level of near-fluency; so many of our graduates have gone on to develop successful global careers with international firms looking for language specialists.

In addition to the language skills you develop on our course, you also explore a range of modules on global cultures, histories, and politics, so that you can really understand another country, beyond just being able to communicate in the native language. Study topics including:

  • World cinema
  • Translation, interpreting and subtitling
  • Popular music
  • Visual history

We also offer a month-long summer course with fees paid for by us if you start a language from scratch via the intensive route.

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.

"The seminars have been informal and fun, and we’ve been allowed to develop our linguistic ability through several types of assignments and oral examinations. At Essex I have been particularly impressed by the number of international students and the range of activities available to students. These years will undoubtedly be the best of my life."

Gigi Capone, BA Modern Languages student

“The Department of Language and Linguistics is very friendly and well-organised; everyone is made to feel welcome and students are all offered advice or guidance if they need it, particularly in their first year. Being a student at Essex was one of the best and most important experiences of my life!”

Trevor Katsanis, BA Modern Languages, 2011

Study abroad

Our course offers three possibilities for your year abroad. The first allows you to study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them, and you pay no tuition fees for your time overseas.

The second option allows you to work as a language assistant, thereby acquiring valuable professional experience in an international context in addition to earning money.

Alternatively, you can study at a university abroad for one term in your third year, after which you work with an organisation in the same country. This unique experience helps you stand out when applying for jobs.

Whichever option you choose, your year abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Our expert staff

At Essex, we maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.

In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation, interpreting and subtitling, film and art, business, and culture.

Specialist facilities

Your future

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. 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. In particular, a degree in modern languages lends itself to a career in education, translation, interpretation, trade, PR, communications, immigration or diplomacy.

For example, one of our recent graduates is now a newspaper editor in Spain, while another teaches modern languages in Southampton.

We also work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department. We are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language (except for French where an A level is required if you wish to major in this language). Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.

In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.

Our courses allow you to study up to two, three or four modern languages. The below example structure shows a student studying French and Spanish.

Year 1

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in French? Develop your university-level French language skills, improving your aural comprehension while boosting your grammar knowledge and vocabulary. Learn to appreciate, summarise and evaluate a piece of text. Expand your understanding of French culture and society.

Need to build your professional skills? Want to know how to use various software packages? Cover topics related to your studies and to the world of work. Gain transferable skills by making oral presentations in French, retrieving and processing information from internet sources, and producing documents relating to working life.

Want to learn Spanish from scratch? And spend four weeks abroad during the summer? Build your language abilities, so you can read short stories or novels in Spanish, as well as articulate your ideas verbally or in writing. Undertake a research project, in Spanish, on a topic of your choosing.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Year 2

Are you ready to study abroad? How will it improve your French? Prepare for your period abroad by examining how your language skills will develop, alongside topics related to French gastronomy, music, and suburban life. Study literature, with a focus on creative writing and participate in assessed filmed role-plays.

Want to develop your language skills through French cinema? Study six French films in depth to further improve your language abilities. Gain an insight into key aspects of French cinema and culture, deepening your existing knowledge and understanding.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Spanish? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of Spanish and Latin American culture and history through the use of texts, films and conversations with native speakers.

Have you knowledge of Spanish, Italian or Romanian? Do you want to speak Portuguese too? Develop advanced written, aural/oral and reading skills, as well as build your knowledge of Brazilian/Portuguese culture and society. Learn to understand short texts, be able to write letters and interact in everyday situations in Portuguese.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Final year

Want Final Honours level competence in French? Wish to deal quickly and precisely with any written or spoken document? Refine your knowledge of French grammar and vocabulary to near-native level comprehension. Undertake collaborative research into topical issues, and consolidate your understanding of French culture.

Want to improve your Spanish? Study topics related to social and historical events in Spanish-speaking societies to build your vocabulary and knowledge. Learn to interact in everyday situations, as well as in discussions on more specialised topics. Become familiar with more complex grammar, while developing your oral and written skills.

The aim of this module is to provide you with comprehensive practical experience of translating different kinds of texts both from the source language into English and from English into a target language. You will look at a range of texts from news and business correspondence, to manuals, advertising and newspaper clips and develop your ability to reflect on context, purpose, target audience and style, analysing and discussing different alternatives, all relevant for making good choices on translation. It will also introduce you to interpreting and subtitling skills.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Portuguese? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of the Portuguese-speaking culture and history through the use of texts, films and online resources.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • State-of-the-art technologies and materials create an ideal learning environment
  • Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
  • Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature


  • Language abilities are assessed through role-plays, translations, essay writing, creative writing and quizzes
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year
  • Weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: 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.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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