History and Modern Languages | University of Oxford
History and Modern Languages
Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

History and Modern Languages

mortar boardUCAS codeSee course combinationscalendarDuration4 years with year abroad (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements  A modern language (depending on course choice)
  History 
tickAdmissions test(s)

ox.ac.uk/hat
ox.ac.uk/mlat

tickWritten workOne/three pieces
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 84%
Successful: 22%
Intake: 22
*3-year average 2017-19

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 615013
Email History
+44 (0) 1865 270750
Email Modern Languages

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Unistats information for each course combination can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

In recent years History has experienced a ‘linguistic turn’ while literary studies have undergone a ‘historical turn’, making this combination of subjects more exciting than ever. Knowledge of the past contextualises literary artefacts, while the forensic literary skills of the linguist are vital for interrogating historical documents. While historians have to be aware of genre, plot and rhetorical techniques in the creation both of their sources and their own arguments, linguists need to appreciate the social and political concerns that are woven into literary works. This degree brings these two skill sets together.

Oxford has a long and enduring commitment to the teaching of history and European languages, leading to a particularly rich environment in terms of staff expertise, library resources, language training and overseas contacts. Undergraduate students have access to the Taylor Institution Library, the biggest research library in Britain devoted to modern languages, as well as the History Faculty Library housed in the Radcliffe Camera. The University’s well-equipped Language Centre has resources specifically tailored to the needs of History and Modern Languages students.

The fullness and variety of the curriculum means that students can combine papers from the two faculties in stimulating ways. The two parts come together directly in the bridge essay, where students can make their own innovative contributions.

International opportunities

History and Modern Languages is a four-year course with a compulsory year abroad in your third year. Past opportunities abroad have typically included working as a paid language assistant in a school, undertaking an internship and/or studying at a University, all of which provide valuable experiences for improving language competence.  However, for students choosing to undertake activity in Europe, please note that the types and nature of activities available may be subject to variation as arrangements relating to the UK’s departure from the EU are progressed. 

The University is working with European partners to seek to maintain the opportunities available to its students on the same terms as previously, and is committed to ensuring that funding arrangements remain similar to those for previous years, as far as reasonably possible. As negotiations relating to the UK’s departure from the EU advance, the availability of paid work in the EU, and the types or terms of work available for students undertaking their year abroad, may vary. You can find the latest information here. Students will be kept informed of any developments relating to year abroad arrangements as these become clearer. 

Students are also encouraged to spend as much of their vacations as possible in the countries whose languages they are studying. 

In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to a course’s requirements for international study. Students who consider that they may be affected are asked to contact their department for advice.

Funding during the year abroad

Some year abroad activities may provide a salary. Students can apply for a living costs grant, subject to the UK’s continued participation in the Erasmus+ programme or an equivalent framework. In the event that agency funding is not made available for Erasmus+ activity following the UK’s departure from the EU, the University has committed to providing living costs grants on a similar basis to current Erasmus+ grants. However, some costs related to year abroad activity may increase following the UK’s departure from the EU. You can find the latest information here.

Currently, eligible UK students can continue to access living costs funding from the UK government (Student Finance agencies) during their year abroad. However, the level of government funding available to UK students on a year abroad may vary as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU.  UK students from lower-income households with means-tested assessments will remain eligible for Oxford’s generous bursary provision. Travel grants may be available through your college and/or the Faculty. For students who experience particular difficulties related to their year abroad, some hardship funds are also available from the Faculty, and, for UK students with a shortfall in their finances, the University’s Student Support Fund can provide additional assistance. 

 students at a lecture

“I loved both History and German at A-level, and couldn’t imagine not studying either, so when I discovered that Oxford offered a course that would enable me to study both in greater detail, I decided to apply.

‘Greater detail’ turned out to be an understatement! One of the great things about History and Modern Languages is that I can choose how much the subjects work together. You can study the literature and the history of a period at the same time, or (like me) you can keep the two separate – my papers this year cover everything from 19th-century Britain to medieval German literature, modern linguistics and the Cold War.”  
CAITLIN

A typical week

Your time will be divided between the Faculties of History and Medieval and Modern Languages, and your college. A week’s work will include tutorials in history and in the literature and culture of the language you study, around 3 or 4 lectures/classes for each subject and language classes involving different skills, e.g. translation, oral and grammar. The rest of your time will be allocated to independent study preparing essays for your weekly tutorials.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

Six courses are taken:

  • History
    • European/World history (four options: 370–900; 1000–1300; 1400–1650; 1815–1914)
    • Either a British Isles history period, or a historical methods paper, or a foreign text or an optional subject
  • Modern Language
    • Practical language work (two papers)
    • Two literature papers

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: six written papers

YEARS 2 AND 4 (YEAR 3 SPENT ABROAD)

COURSES

  • A period or theme paper European/World history
  • Either a special subject in History (two papers, see History), with one additional history or literature option; or three papers selected from history (British history, further subject, thesis) or Modern Languages (special subjects, prescribed authors, extended essay)
  • An optional additional thesis in History
  • Practical language work (two papers)
  • A period of literature
  • A paper on one of a wide range of options
  • A bridge essay

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: between six and nine written papers; between one and four submitted essays, including the compulsory bridge essay; oral examination in the modern language

For the latest information on all course details and options see the History and Modern Languages websites.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements

A-levels: AAA
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB
IB:38 (including core points) with 666 at HL
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)                                                           

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Essential:  

For History with Czech, French, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish, candidates would usually be required to have that language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent. The Beginners’ courses allow students to start studying one of these languages from scratch. 

 Recommended: 

It is highly recommended for candidates to have History to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB, or another equivalent.

In Czech, Italian, Modern Greek, and Portuguese, beginners will receive additional language support, but study together with those who already have A-level (or equivalent) and take the same first year exam.  

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

Test: HAT and MLAT
Test date:4 November 2020
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2020                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the MLAT page and the HAT page.

Changes to HAT for 2019 entry: The HAT will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour. The format of this question will be similar to question 3 of past papers which are available on the HAT page

Written work

Description:Candidates must submit written work for each of the subjects forming this joint course. Please check the written work requirements for both History and for Modern Languages.
Deadline:  10 November 2020

You will see that candidates are required to submit a piece of written work in English for the Modern Languages part of the course (along with work in the chosen Modern Language). If you would like to use the same piece that you submit for History, please send us two copies of this piece of work.

For general guidance and to download the cover sheet, please see our written work page.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for intellectual curiosity, your capacity for independent thought and ability to relate and conceptualise ideas, as well as a flexible approach to engaging with unfamiliar concepts or arguments and your oral competence in the language. If you are shortlisted, you may be asked to discuss your submitted written work and personal statement during interview. Candidates may also be asked to read and talk about a short text in English and/or the modern language as part of the interview.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the selection criteria for History and for Modern Languages.

Careers

Employers value language skills combined with the many transferable skills of a History and Modern Languages degree. Recent graduates from this course are employed in international institutions such as the UN and the EU, by NGOs as well as by national governments. They work in the media, publishing, the law, banking, consultancy, teaching, research, commercial industry and many other sectors.

Matthew, now an investment manager, says: ‘I enjoyed the sheer variety and choice of a History and Modern Languages degree. I benefit hugely in my professional life from the skills I learned from historical argument and literary criticism, not to mention the ability to speak French. Every time I tell my clients how politics and financial markets might affect their investments, I draw on the analytical and presentational skills I acquired at Oxford.’

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£27,285

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for History and Modern Languages

During the year abroad, students currently pay significantly reduced fees to the University. For example, for students going on their year abroad in 2020, who started an undergraduate course from 2019, the course fees are:

  • Home/EU/Islands students: £1,385 for the year.
  • International students: £8,750 for the year.

We recommend that students begin to research their year abroad options – including the financial implications – as early as possible in the second year of the course. There is plenty of support, information and advice to help you.

Actual costs (such as course fees) and living costs will vary depending on the destination and the activity undertaken. Some of the costs relating to year abroad activity may be subject to variation as arrangements relating to the UK’s departure from the EU are progressed. See here for the latest information.

You will need to pay for living costs during the year abroad, including accommodation and travel expenses. At present, students taking part in Erasmus+ study exchanges do not pay tuition fees to other institutions, though for some destinations, additional charges, which apply to all students at that institution, may be payable. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the University’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme or equivalent framework is not guaranteed. The University is committed to working with partner institutions to seek to maintain arrangements relating to fees and charges on the same terms as previously, as far as possible. If you study outside Erasmus+ (or equivalent framework) you will be liable to pay course fees and any other applicable charges to the relevant institution, as is currently the case.

You can find the latest information about the Erasmus+ programme at Oxford, on our Erasmus webpage.

KIS data linksUCAS codes
History and Beginners' CzechVR1R
History and CzechVR17
History and French VR11
History and German VR12
History and Beginners' Modern GreekVR1X
History and Modern GreekVQ17
History and Beginners' Italian RU31
History and Italian VR13
History and Beginners' PortugueseVR1N
History and Portuguese VR15
History and Russian VRC7
History and Spanish VR14

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose