English and Modern Languages | University of Oxford
English and Modern Languages
Books in the library at Somerville College.
(Image credit: Rob Judges Photography / Oxford University Images)

English and Modern Languages

The English side of the course offers you a choice from a list of papers covering all literature written in the English language from its origins in Anglo-Saxon through to works produced in English-speaking countries across the world in the present day. The Modern Language side of the course will give you practical linguistic training, encourage you to think coherently about language as a subject of study and introduce you to an extensive and fascinating field of Western literature and thought.

The English Faculty is the largest in the UK, and the Modern Languages Faculty is one of the largest, with both faculties including major scholars in all areas of the respective subjects. Students thus have access to a range of expert tutors. Library provision at Oxford is excellent: all students have access to the English Faculty Library, the Taylor Institution Library (for languages), the Bodleian Library and their own college libraries.

The course is extremely flexible. In the first year you will do practical work in your chosen language and study a selection of important texts from its literature. On the English side, you will be introduced to the conceptual and technical tools used in the study of language and literature, and to a wide range of different critical assumptions and approaches. You will also do tutorial work on either early medieval, Victorian or modern literature. In the second year, a wide range of options opens up for you. Language work in your modern language will continue and you will study literature from a wide range of periods in English and in your language. The third year of this four-year course is spent abroad – see below. On your return, you will choose from a range of special option papers in both English and Modern Languages, and in comparative literature.

International opportunities

Students spend a year abroad before their final year. Please see the Modern Languages course page for more information.


Graduates in English and Modern Languages go on to careers in fields including broadcasting, publishing, teaching, journalism, the theatre, administration, management, advertising, translation, librarianship and the law. Knowledge of a modern language opens up opportunities for internationally focused careers and working with international companies or organisations.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other English courses, other language courses or History of Art.

A typical week

Most students will have one or two tutorials a week as well as compulsory language classes. Typically, students also attend three to four lecture courses per subject.

Tutorials are usually 1-4 students and a tutor. Seminar and language class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose or the language you are studying, but there would usually be no more than around 20 students and would often be much smaller.

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.

1st year


Six papers are taken:
  • Introduction to English Language and Literature
  • One period paper from single honours English Language and Literature
  • Two practical languages papers
  • Two literature papers in modern languages


Six written papers form the First University Examination including a submitted portfolio of two essays for
Introduction to English Language and Literature.

All exams must be passed, but marks do not count towards the final degree.

2nd and 4th years (3rd year is spent abroad)


  • Three papers from single honours English Language and Literature
  • Dissertation
  • Modern Language (four papers) including: practical language work (two papers plus oral examination), a period of literature and options (prescribed authors and texts from the 12th to 20th centuries, a special subject or a linguistics paper)
The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the English and Modern Languages websites.


Papers will be examined by extended essays over the course of the second and fourth years, and by practical and written examinations at the end of your fourth year.

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

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

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

For English
Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature, to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. The language requirements are detailed below:

For French, German, Russian and Spanish
Candidates would usually be expected to have the language or languages to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent.
For Czech, Italian, Modern Greek and Portuguese
Please note the different course codes for Czech, Beginners’ Czech, Italian, Beginners’ Italian, Modern Greek, Beginners’ Modern Greek, Portuguese and Beginners’ Portuguese.

Candidates applying for a non-beginners' language course would be expected to have an A-level, or academic equivalent, in that language. Beginners’ courses allow students to start studying one of these languages from scratch.

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.

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. 

All candidates must also take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)  and the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) as part of their application. 

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.)


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

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 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 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


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 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(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


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 English and Modern Languages

During the year abroad, students pay significantly reduced fees. For students who started an undergraduate course from 2018, who are going on their year abroad in 2019, the course fees are:

  • Home/EU/Islands students: £1,385 for the year.
  • International students: £8,415 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. You may choose to work or study during your year abroad, or you may do both. Students undertake a range of activities while on their year abroad, some activities may receive a salary and thus - depending on individual choices - it is possible for the year abroad to be cost neutral. Actual costs (such as course fees) and living costs will vary depending on the destination and the activity undertaken.

You will need to pay for living costs during the year abroad, including accommodation and travel expenses. Subject to the UK continuing to be eligible to participate in the Erasmus Programme after leaving the EU, students taking part in Erasmus study exchanges will not need to pay course fees to other institutions. However, if you decide to study outside Erasmus you will be liable to pay course fees to the relevant institution.

You may receive salary payments or grants to offset some or all of these costs. Also, if you receive government funding for the rest of your course, you will still be entitled to government support during your year abroad. Hardship funds are available from the Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages for students who can demonstrate particular difficulties related to their year abroad. These are awarded through a termly application process.

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.

Written tests

All candidates must take both the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) in their own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the tests at this time. Separate registration for each test is required and the final deadline for entries is Monday 15 October 2018. 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 ELAT  and MLAT pages

Written work

Candidates must submit written work by Saturday 10 November 2018 for each of the subjects forming this joint course. Please check the written work requirements for both English Language and Literature and for Modern Languages.

You will see that candidates are required to submit:

  • a piece of written work in English for the English part of the course

and also

  • 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 have a piece of written work in English that you think would be suitable for both subjects, please send us two copies of this piece of work; you do not need to submit two different pieces of work in English.

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

What are tutors looking for?

Successful candidates will have an aptitude for their modern language, will read widely and will enjoy writing and talking about literature and language. Candidates who are shortlisted may be asked to talk about a piece of prose or verse supplied before or in their interview.

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

Suggested reading

Please see the information for English and Modern Languages.


Jen O'Hagan

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.


'I chose my degree since I was interested in the way people spoke and communicated. I don’t really see English and German as two separate subjects: they are both the study of language, just two different aspects of it. To understand a country’s literature is to understand their mindset; it filters down into the idiom of the day (just think how much people today quote Shakespeare!)

For English I’m not taking the Victorian paper, which is pretty rare. Instead I’m studying Old English. My German really helps me with this as the languages are very similar. If you blended modern English with modern German, Old English is pretty much what you would get; the grammar and morphology are very familiar to someone with my background.

I’m particularly looking forward to the paper on linguistics, which will allow me to look at the sociolinguistic power relationships between different speakers and similar things. I think that these concepts will enhance my study of literature for all of the modules I go on to study.

In Oxford, I’ve become involved in the Poetry Society. I’m hoping to also get involved with Cuppers (a drama competition for first-years).

Part of my family comes from Oxford, and I came to three different open days before I applied, so I came to Freshers’ Week knowing my way around the city quite well. However, it was still a change for me to begin with; but people soon find niches, and I was able to find like-minded people very quickly.'


The most unexpected thing about my course:

'How much leeway there is to follow your own interests.'

I wish they'd told me when I was applying to university...

'Clubbing is not compulsory!'

The best thing that Oxford did for me:

'Gave me the confidence to be my own person.'

My favourite Oxford memory is...

'Punting in Christ Church meadow in the evening sun.'

Click on the UCAS code list below to see KIS data for each subject option.

KIS data linksUCAS codes
English and Beginners' CzechQR3S
English and CzechQR37
English and FrenchQR31
English and German QR32
English and Beginners' Modern GreekQR39
English and Modern GreekQQ37
English and Beginners' Italian RQ33
English and ItalianQR33
English and Beginners' PortugueseQR3M
English and PortugueseQR35
English and RussianQRH7
English and SpanishQR34

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

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