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

UCAS codeSee combinationsDuration4 years with year abroad (BA)
Entrance requirementsAAASubject requirements  A modern language (depending on course choice) and English Lit or English Lang and Lit
Admissions test(s)


Written workOne/three pieces
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 73%
Successful: 22%
Intake: 23
*3-year average 2016-18


+44 (0) 1865 271055
Email English
+44 (0) 1865 270750
Email Modern Languages

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

The English side of the course offers you a choice of options covering a comprehensive span of 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 study 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 literature and thought written in European Languages.

The English Faculty is the largest in the UK, and the Modern Languages Faculty is one of the largest, with teaching staff including major scholars in all areas of the respective subjects. Library provision at Oxford is excellent: all students have access to the English Faculty Library, the Taylor Institution Library (for languages), the Bodleian Library, including the Weston Library’s collection of manuscripts and rare editions and their own college libraries, as well as many online resources.

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 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 variety of options will be available. Work in your modern language will continue alongside the study of literature from a wide range of periods in English and in your language. The third year of this four-year course is spent abroad. 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

English and Modern Languages students spend a compulsory year abroad, usually in the third year. They may work as paid language assistants in a foreign school or do internships abroad, both of which provide valuable opportunities to develop career experience while improving language competence. The year may also be spent studying at a foreign university. Students are encouraged to spend as much as possible of their vacations in the countries whose languages they are studying. In addition to the possibility of Erasmus funding, extra financial support, including travel scholarships, may be available from your college and/or the faculty.

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.

 students socializing
"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.” 

A typical week

Most students will have one or two tutorials a week as well as compulsory language classes. Typically, you will also attend three to four lecture courses per subject, which may cover different approaches to literary analysis, introductions to some of the texts or other content you are studying, or general cultural and historical content related to your degree.

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.

Course structure



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 Year 1 examinations 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.



  • 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 21st 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.

Academic requirements 

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 

For English and French, German, Russian and Spanish
 Essential:  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. 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 English and Czech/Beginners' Czech, Italian/Beginners' Italian, Modern Greek/Beginners' Modern Greek and Portuguese/Beginners' Portuguese
 Essential:  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. 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.

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


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 tests

Test: ELAT and MLAT
Test date:30 October 2019
Registration date:                             6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                 

All candidates must take both the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for these tests is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered. We strongly recommend making arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. For everything you need to know, including guidance on registration and preparation, can be found on the ELAT  and MLAT pages

Written work

Description:One/three pieces, please see the written work requirements for both English Language and Literature and for Modern Languages. You will see that candidates are required to submit the following:
  • a piece of written work in your chosen Modern Language unless you are applying to study a language as a beginner 
  • a piece of written work in English for the English part of the course
  • a piece of written work in English for the Modern Languages part of the course
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.
Submission deadline: 10 November 2019

 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, or for linguistic study if they are picking up a new language from scratch, 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.


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.

Evie, who studied English and Modern Languages and now works for a social enterprise company, says that her degree gave her ‘an awareness of other places, other cultures, other ways of thinking; in studying a language you are confronted by a different way of constructing a sentence, and even more so, a different way of constructing the world… The skills we have learnt during our degrees are the epitome of transferable skills.’ 

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.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.


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

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 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


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.

(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 2019, who are going on their year abroad in 2020, 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. 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 or equivalent framework after leaving the EU, students taking part in Erasmus (or equivalent) study exchanges will not need to pay tuition fees to other institutions. However, if you decide to study outside this framework you will be liable to pay tuition fees to the relevant institution. For more information about the Erasmus+ programme at Oxford, please visit ox.ac.uk/erasmus

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.

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 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