MSt in Modern Languages | University of Oxford
Taylorian
The Taylor Institution Library
(Image Credit: Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages)

MSt in Modern Languages

About the course

The MSt in Modern Languages is designed to allow those who have a high level of attainment in a foreign language, and have studied literature to a degree level, to undertake more advanced work. The MSt in Modern Languages is suitable both for candidates wishing to proceed to a research degree and for those who wish to spend only one year at Oxford.

The MSt in Modern Languages allows you to undertake advanced work in one for two literatures, working in Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, or Modern Literary Studies. The degree comprises three components:

  • two special subject options  
  • a theoretical or methodological component
  • a dissertation of not more than 12,000 words

If you wish to proceed to a research degree, the MSt will allow you to work towards the identification of a precise thesis subject and to gather research materials. This degree is also suitable if you do not wish to proceed to a research degree, as it enables you to build upon your undergraduate studies and acquire some knowledge of literary theory.

You may choose to pursue a single language or study two literatures, including English, comparatively. You may also follow programmes in European Enlightenment, cultural studies, or medieval literatures. 

Graduate destinations

Many MSt students proceed to doctoral degrees at Oxford or at other universities. Other graduate destinations include teaching, journalism, law, publishing and the civil service.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in the relevant modern language for their proposed study, or a similar course of academic study with substantial course components in the area of the modern language to be studied. Degree level competence in at least one modern language is a requirement for admission.

Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a high first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.75 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process. However, MSt candidates may be interviewed in order to clarify aspects of their application. Any interviews will be held as soon as possible after the closing date, either in person, by telephone, or Skype. 

Publications

Details of any publications would be of interest to the assessors and should be included in the application.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of European language, literature, and culture. Academic staff working in the sub-faculties of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, Slavonic and Celtic offer expertise in areas ranging from the medieval period to the present day. You may focus your studies on medieval literature, the Enlightenment, comparative literature, cultural studies, women’s studies or film studies, or you may develop a more general study programme.

Academic activities include widespread links with European universities, graduate exchange links and Erasmus exchanges with lecturers from other universities. The Graduate Language Students Association offers academic and social opportunities for graduate students and a mentoring scheme is in place to help new graduates integrate into the Oxford academic community.

The Taylor Institution Library is an internationally renowned research collection, which comprises well over 650,000 volumes, including 1,000 current periodical titles and approximately 58,000 pre-1801 titles, including 56 incunabula.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of awards are available from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) each year, to support graduate students in a range of disciplines. To be considered for any of these studentships you must apply before the January admissions deadline.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£6,745£3,021£9,766
Overseas£18,080£3,021£21,101

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are encouraged to communicate with the faculty in order to refine your application, especially where studentships are involved, using the contact details provided on this page.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to 700 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. 

The statement should be written with reference to the course structure of the MSt.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • the coherence of the statement
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • the ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Your statement should focus on your academic qualifications to the extent that they are relevant to your academic plans, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification are required. Clearly-highlighted extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible. Where necessary, a cover note may be attached placing an extract in a larger context.

Work should be submitted in English or the language relevant to the proposed course of study. Submissions in other languages may be permissible after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, but at least one piece of written work should be in English or, if necessary, translated into English by you.

At least one piece of work should relate closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

At least two of your references should be academic; the third may be professional but it should nevertheless speak to your ability to study European language/literature.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.