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Modern Languages at Oxford - Course Outline

First Year


One modern language and linguistics or two modern languages, or one modern language (or other options for either German or French as a single language).

  • Study of important topics and/or works in the literature of each language
  • Practical language work
  • Single language option: Introduction to Literary theory (French only), film studies Linguistics option: Introduction to general linguistics, phonetics and grammar
  • Medieval studies (German only), key texts in German or French thought


First University exams
Seven or eight written papers, comprising literature and translation (language only for beginners' Russian)

Second Year


Two language course:

  • Language work (comprehension, translation, essays)
  • A period of literature
  • Optional subjects, including medieval literature, linguistics, authors and language history prescribed for detailed study

One language course:

  • As above, but consists of a greater opportunity to study contemporary, historical and general linguistics
  • Beginners' Russian: Second year is spent abroad

Third and Fourth Year


Third year is spent abroad
Fourth year continues the course from second year and special subjects across a broad range of options

Beginners' Russian:

Third year as second year for other courses


Final University exams
Nine or ten written papers and an oral exam are taken, including literature subjects, unprepared translations, linguistics and special subjects
Some special subjects are assessed by submitting a portfolio of essays

Course Structure

The first year of the course is closely structured. Students shall attend courses and oral classes on the grammatical structure of their languages, comprehension and translation into and out of the languages. Students will attend introductory lecture courses and take part in seminars and tutorials on literature. If students study either German or French as a single language, then they may study Linguistics in the first year, or they can take alternative papers comprising film studies.

If students study any other language by itself, then they should study Linguistics in the first year. If students wish to study Linguistics with a single language throughout their course, then they are advised to see the course pages for Linguistics and Modern Languages.

The other years of study provide students more freedom to choose the areas they wish to emphasis on, from a wide range of wide options. Students will have language classes and tutorials each week in each of the languages being studied. Students who are studying courses with Polish may take this as a supplementary language, starting in the second year. Galician, Catalan, Yiddish, Provenšal and most of the Slavonic languages can also be taken as added options.

Year Abroad

Generally, Modern Languages students spend the third year of their course abroad. This is a paid language assistant in foreign schools, although students may study at a foreign university or work abroad. (The exception to this is for students who take Beginner's Russian and required to spend the second year of their studies on a specially modified eight-month language course in Yaroslavl city).

Students are encouraged to spend their vacations in the countries whose languages they are studying. Financial support comprising travel scholarships may be available from their college or the faculty.

Deferred Entry

Candidates are welcome to apply for deferred entry for any language courses except those comprising Beginner's Russian. Students' week work shall include a tutorial organized by their college. They have language classes on various skills associated to the languages they study and approximately three to six lectures.

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