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Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)

BA (Hons)

Key Information

Course Overview

Would you love to develop your understanding of the cultures and values that lie at the heart of different countries and become a highly proficient linguist in the process?

Our BA Modern Languages gives you the opportunity to specialise in one or two languages from a choice of French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

If you choose to study one language, you will normally enter with at least AS- or A-level (or equivalent) in that language (except Japanese, which allows beginner-level entry), and your eventual degree title will be one of the following to reflect this specialisation*: 

  • BA French Studies  
  • BA German Studies 
  • BA Japanese Studies  
  • BA Spanish and Latin American Studies 

If you decide to take two languages, you can study one from beginners’ level and the other one from A-level or equivalent-level, which will allow you to raise your language skills to near-native standard in at least one of the two languages. Your eventual degree title will name both languages, for example, BA French and Spanish.

Whichever language or languages you choose, you will develop your cultural understanding through modules exploring literature, film, popular culture, visual art or linguistics. Cross-cultural modules will also allow you to analyse comparative themes across a variety of linguistic and cultural contexts.

At the same time, you will also master transferable skills such as summary and essay writing, oral presentations and written reports, critical and logical thinking, and translating.   

If you choose the four years full-time BA Modern Languages with International Experience you will normally spend your third year abroad at a partner institution to allow you to develop your language skills and knowledge of the culture further. 

If you opt for the Foundation Year route, this will fully prepare you for undergraduate study. It is ideal if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied the relevant subjects, or if you didn't achieve the grades you need for a place on your chosen undergraduate degree. 

*Please note that Italian can currently only be taken together with another language, not on its own. 

Discover the career opportunities available by taking Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) (BA (Hons)).

Find another course:

Highlights

  • You will be taught by specialists from our Department of Languages, Cultures and Applied Linguistics, a centre of teaching and research excellence that prides itself on research-led teaching in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, making it an outstanding multidisciplinary department.
  • Ours is a community of scholars with shared interests in interdisciplinary topics and cross-cultural research. Our affiliated research centres, the Centre for French, Francophone and Comparative Studies (CFFCS) and the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS), provide an important platform for this exchange.
  • All teaching takes place in our central London location in Bloomsbury, a stone’s throw from research libraries and all the cultural richness that London has to offer by way of theatre, museums and galleries.
  • You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group - now home to our School of Arts. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery, the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space.

Course Structure

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    Entry Requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

    For part-time courses, standard requirements are a minimum of two A-Levels or equivalent.

    On this course you can focus on two of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish.

    3 years full-time, 4 years full-time with International Experience, 4 years part-time: You must have at least A-level/B2 (CEFR) competence in one of your two languages, unless the stronger of your two languages is Japanese, in which case GCSE-level (70% of the content that is needed to pass the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N5) is sufficient. Your second language can be at any level from beginner onwards. The course is also suitable for applicants at proficiency and native speaker level

    4 years full-time with Foundation Year: Minimum of GCSE (A2 CEFR) in one of the two languages studied, except where one of the languages is Japanese, in which case there is no language level requirement (i.e. both languages can be from beginners).

    6 years part-time with Foundation Year: This programme is suitable for applicants at all language entry levels, from beginner to proficiency, including native speaker level. Acceptance may be subject to an admissions test and/or interview.

    UCAS tariff points

    3 years full-time or four years full-time with International Experience: 96-128 points, A-Levels:  CCC-ABB

    4 years full-time with Foundation Year: 48 points

    The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence. UCAS provides a tariff calculator for you to work out what your qualification is worth within the UCAS tariff.

    Foundation year degrees

    Our 'with Foundation Year' route is designed to give you extra support as it provides you with an additional year (full-time) or two years (part-time) of supported study. This is an ideal route if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied this subject, or if you did not achieve the grades you need for a place on this degree. 

    Once you successfully complete your Foundation Year studies, you will automatically advance onto the main degree.

    Alternative entry routes

    We welcome applications from students on Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

    Credits gained on the Certificate of Higher Education in Culture and Language (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) can be counted towards the degree.

    English Language Requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests. We also accept other English language tests.

    If you don’t meet the minimum English language requirements,  or see our international study skills page for more details of how we can help.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and accredited prior learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university (or have an HND or Foundation Degree), you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution.

  • Fees Fees

    Fees

    Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) BA (Hons): 4 years full-time, on campus, starting October 2023

    Starting October 2023

    Full-time home students, 3 years of study: £9250 per year
    Full-time international students, 3 years of study: £16020 per year
    Full-time home students, international year: £1385 per year
    Full-time international students, international year: £2400 per year

    Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) BA (Hons): 3 years full-time, on campus, starting October 2023

    Starting October 2023

    Full-time home students: £ 9250 per year
    Full-time international students: £ 16020 per year

    Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) BA (Hons): 4 years part-time, on campus, starting October 2023

    Starting October 2023

    Part-time home students: £ 6935 per year
    Part-time international students: £12015 per year

    Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) with Foundation Year BA (Hons): 6 years part-time, on campus, starting October 2023

    Starting October 2023

    Part-time home students, Year 1&2: £4625 per year
    Part-time international students, Year 1&2: £8010 per year
    Part-time home students, Year 3+: £6935 per year
    Part-time international students, Year 3+: £12015 per year

    Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) with Foundation Year BA (Hons): 4 years full-time, on campus, starting October 2023

    Starting October 2023

    Full-time home students: £ 9250 per year
    Full-time international students: £ 16020 per year

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Tuition fee and maintenance loans

    Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

    Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

    Funding for EU students is changing from August 2021: find out about details of these changes.

    Find out more about tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time and part-time students at Birkbeck.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International Scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Teaching and Assessment Teaching and Assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government's system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures and face-to-face teaching in small, informal groups. Language classes are predominantly interactive and taught by experienced native or near-native speakers. You will also make use of off-air TV recordings, the internet and a modern language laboratory.

    The Foundation Year is composed mainly of interactive lectures for large groups and tutorial-style classes that support the development of knowledge, skills, confidence and self-awareness.

    Teaching hours

    Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

    Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

    Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Essays and written and oral examinations.

  • Careers and employability Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue career paths in education, publishing, or commerce and banking. Possible professions include:

    • translator
    • interpreter
    • secondary school teacher
    • broadcast journalist
    • English as a Foreign Language teacher.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service - Birkbeck Futures - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply via UCAS for our full-time undergraduate courses or directly to Birkbeck for our part-time undergraduate courses.

    Full-time (UCAS entry)

    If you are applying for a full-time undergraduate course at Birkbeck, you have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To apply, go to the UCAS website and click on ‘Sign in’. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you can start working on your application.

    15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

    Read more about key dates for UCAS applicants.

    Part-time

    If you are applying for a part-time undergraduate course (4 or 6 year), you apply directly to Birkbeck by using the Apply now button. You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure that there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol. You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply.

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. Please note that online application will open in September.

    When to apply

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

    You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

    You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

    Help and advice with your application

    Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

    Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section at the top of this page.