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 course 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 or more languages and literatures, and as part of our dedicated comparative pathway. The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages is one of the largest centres of its kind in the world and has consistently come first in the QS rankings of Modern Languages departments. You will join a research community spanning medieval studies, early modern literature and culture, through to modern and contemporary literature, film, and cultural history. Areas of particular interest that span our different languages and period specialisms include Performance and Voice, Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies, Gender and Diversity, Ecology and Environmental Humanities, Cognitive Literary Studies, Medical Humanities and Life Writing, and Comparative Literature and Translation Studies.
The degree comprises three components:
- Two special subject options. Courses are offered across different language strands and specialisms, subject to the availability of the relevant supervisors in any particular year. Popular language-specific options include: Women’s Writing in Medieval Germany, Problems in Dante Interpretation, Francophone Literature, Realism and Its Alternatives in Spanish American Narrative, Latin American Cinema, Lusophone Women Writers, Contemporary Brazilian Fiction, Late Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Literature, Modern Greek Literature in Comparative Frames, Literature and Culture of the Berlin Republic, and Conscience and Consciousness in French and Francophone Literature. You may also study cross-linguistic comparative options including European Enlightenment, Cultural Studies, Contesting Colonialisms, and Rethinking Subjectivity: Technology, Ecology, Critique, and Fictions. Full listings and further details of courses can be found on the Faculty's website.
- A theoretical or methodological component. Students can undertake one of the following courses: Spaces of Comparison, Key Questions in Critical Thought, History of Ideas in Germany from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries, or Palaeography, History of the Book and Digital Humanities.
- A dissertation.
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 to reflect on the methods of literary and cultural analysis.
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.
The emphasis in the MSt course is on self-directed learning. The course provides a general framework within which students are encouraged, in conversation with the Faculty, to develop their own programmes of study, culminating in the dissertation project to be submitted in the final term of the year.
The theoretical/methodological course runs across during Michaelmas and Hilary terms, and involves a series of hour-long lectures and, depending on student numbers, either seminars or tutorials, lasting up to two hours, in which students give presentations to their tutor/s and peers. At the end of Hilary term, students must submit an essay for assessment.
Each special subject runs across one of either Michaelmas or Hilary terms, and normally involves four meetings, which, depending on student numbers, may take the form of classes or tutorials. These meetings are normally fortnightly.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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. The frequency of your meetings with your supervisor will vary across the year, but you will see them on average at least once a fortnight.
You study two special subjects.
With your supervisor(s), you will select your best essay(s) to be submitted for examination. Special subject submissions may comprise of one essay, or a portfolio of two essays.
The portfolio will be jointly marked by an examiner and your special subject tutor. Should there be any substantial disagreement between the two markers, an external examiner will adjudicate. The assessor(s) will take account of the fact that the essays were written in the first two terms of your course.
You will choose one of our Methods of Criticism or Scholarship seminars, and submit an essay at the end of the second term.
You will also submit a dissertation in the final term of study, with work on this project lasting over the duration of the whole academic year.
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.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, 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 course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the faculty
Women's Studies MSt
Film Aesthetics MSt
Medieval Studies MSt
Modern Languages MPhil
All graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages
Oxford 1+1 MBA programme
This course can be studied as a part of the Oxford 1+1 MBA programme. The Oxford 1+1 MBA programme is a unique, two-year graduate experience that combines the depth of a specialised, one-year master’s degree with the breadth of a top-ranking, one-year MBA.
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours 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 your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Details of any publications would be of interest to the assessors and should be included in the application.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of European languages, literatures, and cultures and their relations with other communities and cultures around the globe. We are consistently ranked top of the QS World University Rankings in Modern Languages, most recently in 2021. Academic staff working in the sub-faculties of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, and Slavonic offer expertise in areas ranging from the medieval period to the present day, including postcolonial and transnational contexts. In the Taylor Institution Library you will have an internationally renowned research collection at your disposal, which comprises well over 650,000 volumes, including 1,000 current periodical titles and approximately 58,000 pre-1801 titles, including 56 incunabula.
Academic activities include widespread links with universities in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and graduate exchange links and host exchanges with lecturers from other universities. The faculty has an active research culture and is committed to integrating graduate students into our regular research seminars. Workshops and conferences with Oxford-based and visiting academics are regularly hosted by the faculty, which bring together students and faculty members in – and between – individual languages and disciplines. The Modern Languages Graduate Network offers academic and social opportunities for graduate students, including graduate-led seminars, and a mentoring scheme is in place to help new graduates integrate into the Oxford academic community.
The faculty engages with the University’s Career Services and programmes such as the Royal Literary Fund to provide professional development and training initiatives, including teaching qualifications, a mentored Graduate Lecture Scheme for doctoral students, writing workshops, and assistance in planning for academic and non-academic careers following graduation. Graduate students also often engage actively with other institutes such as TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) to gain experience in public engagement and media training.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
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.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MSt in Modern Languages:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I 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.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
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.
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.
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:
A maximum of 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.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
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.
Two essays of a maximum 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.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
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.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.