Books in a variety of languages on a shelf
Modern Language books
(Credit: Natasha Ryan)

Modern Languages

mortar boardUCAS codeSee course combinationscalendarDuration4 years with a year abroad (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements One or more modern languages (depending on course choice)
tickAdmissions test(s) workTwo/three pieces
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 93%
Successful: 39%
Intake: 161
*3-year average 2018-20


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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.

Czech (with Slovak)FrenchGermanModern GreekItalianPolishPortugueseRussian and Spanish.

Studying Modern Languages provides both practical training in written and spoken language and an extensive introduction to literature and thought written in European languages. As well as learning to write and speak the language(s) fluently, you can study a broad range of literature, or focus your studies on any period from the medieval to the present day. A wide range of other options allow you to explore subjects including linguistics, philology, film or gender studies or (in French and German) advanced translation.

Modern Languages have been taught in Oxford since 1724. The faculty is one of the largest in the country, with a total intake of more than 250 students a year (including joint courses). Undergraduate students have access to the Taylor Institution Library, the biggest research library in Britain devoted to modern languages, and the University’s central library the Bodleian, as well as many online resources. The University’s well-equipped Language Centre has resources specifically tailored to the needs of Modern Language students.

Language is at the centre of the Oxford course, making up around 50% of both first-year and final examinations. The course aims to teach spoken fluency in colloquial and more formal situations, as well as the ability to write essays in the foreign language, and the ability to translate into and out of the foreign language with accuracy and sensitivity to a range of vocabulary, styles and registers. You will also develop your reading skills to a high level.

The study of literature gives you an understanding of other cultures that cannot be acquired solely through learning the language. It leads you into areas such as gender studies, popular culture, theatre, aesthetics, anthropology, art history, ethics, history, philosophy, politics, psychology and theology, developing your skills as a critical reader, writer and thinker.

International opportunities

Modern Languages students spend a compulsory year abroad, usually in the third year. Opportunities abroad include 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.

The University is working with European partners to maintain the opportunities available to its students post-Brexit. University exchanges, language assistantships and work placements will continue to be available as opportunities for your year abroad. You can find the latest information here.

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 provide a salary, and other year-abroad funding is available from a variety of sources. 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. You can find the latest information here.

College choice

Please see our guidance on choosing a college, and which language combinations are available at each college.

 Student studying in a library students at a lecture Student studying
“I really have genuinely enjoyed all my modules. People worry about the fact that the modern languages course is so literature heavy and assume that it might become repetitive with so many literary modules. But it doesn't. Each of my literature modules have been so different, raised different questions, shed light on different areas of history and politics. I also love the tutorial system - it's definitely what makes the Oxbridge system so unique I think. You can push ideas as far as they will go and, although there is pressure with there being so few of you and the tutor, it makes you think and argue in a completely different way.”
“I study French and Portuguese, which is a very niche combination (I'm one of two students in my year group doing it). It involves doing lots of different things and has lots of variety, which I really enjoy, and it is very satisfying to start making connections between the different aspects of culture, literature and language as I have got to know them better.”
“I loved the Modern Languages course at Oxford. I felt like I was constantly being 'pushed' (maybe not the right word) intellectually and was always invited to think and study widely. I think this impulse to push myself to learn is something I've taken with me into the jobs I have done since I graduated. As part of my degree I lived and worked in France and Brazil: my experiences in these two countries have hugely shaped my interests and movements post-graduation. It was the main reason that I went back to live in Brazil after leaving Oxford and the main reason that I wanted to work in Modern Languages education upon my return to the UK in 2015.”

A typical week

Your week’s work will include a tutorial in, or organised by, your college, language classes in the language(s) you study, and typically three to four hours of lectures for each subject. Tutorials are usually up to four 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 classes 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

Your first year is closely structured. You will attend oral classes and courses on the grammatical structure of your language(s), translation into and out of the language(s) and, in some of the languages, comprehension. You will also attend typically three to four hours of introductory lectures and participate in seminars and/or tutorials on literature. If you study French, German, Spanish or Russian as a single language you will take a range of additional options in that language in the first year (see below). All other languages must be studied in combination with another language or another subject.

Your other years of study give you more freedom to choose the areas on which you wish to focus, from a very wide range of options. Students may take Polish as a subsidiary language, beginning in the second year. Catalan, Galician, Provençal, Yiddish and most of the Slavonic languages may also be taken as additional options. Deferred entry Students are welcome to apply for deferred entry for any language courses except those including Beginners’ Russian.



  • Two-language course
    • Practical language work
    • Study of important works and/or topics in the literature of each language
  • One-language course, as above, plus:
    • For French, German, Russian and Spanish, additional options: film studies; literary theory (French); medieval studies (German/Spanish); key texts in French or German thought; short fiction (Spanish); Polish and Church Slavonic (Russian) 

(Other languages must be studied in combination with another language or joint school.)


First University examinations: seven or eight written papers, including translation and literature (language only for Beginners’ Russian)



  • Two-language course
    • Practical language work
    • A period of literature in each language
    • Optional subjects, including linguistics; medieval literature; detailed study of individual authors
  • One-language course
    • As above, but including a greater range of optional subjects

Year 3: typically spent abroad (Beginners’ Russian: students spend the second year in Russia, and the third year in Oxford).

Year 4: continues the course from Year 2, plus special subjects across a wide range of options including film studies.


Final University examinations: nine or ten written papers and an oral examination are taken, including unprepared translations, literature subjects, special subjects and linguistics. Some special subjects are examined by submitting a portfolio of essays.

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Modern Languages website.

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

There are several combinations available that allow students to begin studying a language from scratch. However, please note that it is not usually possible for students to study two languages from scratch or a language on its own from scratch. Candidates would be expected to have competence in at least one of the languages chosen.

For French or SpanishCandidates would usually be expected to have the language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent.
For Czech, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Portuguese and RussianPlease note there are different course codes for these languages, depending on whether or not you have studied them before (see below). Beginners’ courses allow students to start studying one of these languages from scratch – otherwise they would be expected to have an A-level or equivalent (or, for German, an A-level or equivalent proven competence). The Beginners’ German course also includes an intermediate option for those who have studied some German. Find out more at the Modern Languages website
For PolishWe generally expect all students applying for this course to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply.

If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.

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.

UCAS codes

Single language courses

UCAS codeR110R200R711R400

Joint language courses

FrenchRR1R RR12RQ17RR13R1R7RR15RRC7RR14
GermanRR2PRR12 RQ27RR23R2R7RR25RR2QRR24
Modern GreekQR77RQ17RQ27 RQ37 RQ57RQ77RQ47
ItalianRR37RR13RR23RQ37  RR35RR3RRR34
Polish R1R7R2R7    R791R4R7
PortugueseRR5RRR15RR25RQ57RR35  RRM7RR45
RussianR793RRC7RR2QRQ77RR3RR791RRM7 RRK7

Beginners' courses (B.) 

These courses allow students to study a new language from scratch, along with another language which they have already studied to A-level, or equivalent.

 B. CzechB. GermanB. Mod. GreekB. ItalianB. PortugueseB. Russian
Czech  R702 RR97 RR73 RRN7R792
French RR1SR101 RR19R1R3RR1MRR17
German RRF7 RRG9 RR32RR2MRR27
Mod. Greek RR7YR910  RR93 RR59 QR7R
Italian RR3SR301RR39 RR3MRRH7
Portuguese RR75R501RR5X RR53 RR57
Russian R793R712RR79 RRJ7 RRNT 
Spanish RR4SR401RR49 RR43RR4MRR47

Admissions test

Test: MLAT
Test date:3 November 2021          
Registration date:                   6pm 15 October 2021                                                                                                    

All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered. 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

Written work

Description: Candidates are normally required to submit one piece of work in the target language to be studied, and one piece in English, please read below for further details.
Submission deadline: 10 November 2021

Written work in the target language
All candidates must submit one piece of marked classwork, normally a few hundred words in length, written in each language which you plan to study, and in which you will have A-level (or an equivalent standard) before university, by 10 November. This will demonstrate to interviewers how you are developing in your use of the target language(s) in work you have completed in the normal course of your A-level (or equivalent) study. If you are applying for a language in which you will not have reached this standard before university, you do not need to submit anything in that language.

Written work in English
All candidates must also submit one piece only of marked writing in English. The particular topic of your essay and the A-level (or equivalent) subject from which it is drawn are not important; it is intended to show how you construct an argument and express your ideas in English. If you do not have any recent marked work written in English (for example, because of the combination of subjects you are currently studying), you may submit a specially written piece of work, such as an essay in English on one of the topics you have been studying for your language A-level (or equivalent). It may be helpful to seek guidance from your teachers in devising a suitable title. In such circumstances, it would not normally be expected for this piece to have been marked, as it will not have been done in the normal course of your studies. As detailed in the selection criteria for Modern Languages, all submitted written work is considered in the context of the individual circumstances in which it was completed.

Examples of written work required for different subject combinations
If you are applying to study French and German, you will need to submit three pieces of written work: one in French, one in German and one in English. If you are applying to study Spanish and Beginners' Russian you will need to submit two pieces of work: one in Spanish and one in English.

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors will be looking for a good command of the grammar of any language you have already studied at school and want to continue studying at Oxford, as well as an interest in literature and culture.

At interview, tutors will want to find out as much as possible about your intellectual interests and academic potential, so you may be asked about your reading, your interest in the culture of the relevant country, or the work you have submitted. You may be asked questions about a short text in English or the relevant foreign language(s). You will be given the opportunity to speak in the relevant foreign language(s) which you have studied to an advanced level. As far as possible, interviewers will try to let you show your strengths, interest in the subject(s) you intend to study, and reasons for applying to Oxford. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Modern Languages website.


Oxford aims to produce world-class linguists and the skills gained and fostered by studying languages at degree level are much-prized by employers. Their knowledge and transferable skills ensure that modern linguists are amongst the most sought-after graduates in Britain. Employers value Modern Languages graduates because they are competent in one or two languages, have acquired a range of transferable skills and have first-hand experience of other cultures. Amongst the careers successfully followed by modern linguists are: journalism, the Civil and Diplomatic Services, education, environmental and development work and the law.

Catherine is Director of the Refugee Support Network. She says: ‘Since graduating from Oxford, I have worked in the field of refugee education and education in emergencies for various charities, including Save the Children and various United Nations agencies. The skills I gained at Oxford have helped me to analyse situations thoughtfully and critically, and gave me the confidence to establish the Refugee Support Network in 2009. I never thought I would use my language skills in situations as diverse as Sudanese refugee camps, with Haitian earthquake survivors and with young victims of trafficking in London.’

We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK/Republic of Ireland students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.

Further information for EU students starting in 2022 is available here.


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2022.

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

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 departure from 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 2022 are estimated to be between £1,215 and £1,755 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, Irish nationals and other eligible students with UK citizens' rights - see below*) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree**, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2022 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home 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. The UK government also provides living costs support to Home students from the UK and those with settled status who meet the residence requirements.

*For courses starting on or after 1 August 2021, the UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA, and Swiss Nationals will be eligible for student finance from the UK government if they have UK citizens’ rights (i.e. if they have pre-settled or settled status, or if they are an Irish citizen covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement). The support you can access from the government will depend on your residency status.

 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 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 2022, who started an undergraduate Humanities course from 2020, the course fees are:

  • Home students: £1,385 for the year.
  • Overseas students: £11,045 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 the dedicated Oxford and the EU page for the latest information. You will need to pay for living costs during the year abroad, including accommodation and travel expenses.

Some year abroad activities may provide a salary. A living costs grant may also be available, subject to Oxford’s participation in the Turing scheme, the UK's successor programme to Erasmus+. UK students can continue to access government funding for living costs, and those from lower-income households who are means-tested will remain eligible for generous bursaries from Oxford. Travel grants and financial assistance towards funding shortfalls may also be available through your college, the faculty and the University.

At present, students taking part in approved study exchanges supported by the Turing scheme do not pay tuition fees to other institutions. However, for some destinations, additional charges, which apply to all students at that institution, may be payable.
If you study outside the Turing scheme 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 Turing scheme at Oxford, on our dedicated webpage.

Beginners’ Russian

Courses including beginners’ Russian are slightly different, as they are the only courses with a prescribed year abroad option. Students have to take a 7-month Russian Language Undergraduate Studies course in Yaroslavl ( during their second year. Students will not incur an additional course fee, however, they will be liable for additional administration and visa fees. For students starting their year abroad in 2021 the combined fee for these is £145. A living costs grant may also be available, subject to Oxford’s participation in the global Turing scheme, the UK's successor programme to Erasmus+.

To see the KIS data for each course click on the UCAS course code below. 

UCAS codes

Single language courses

UCAS codeR110R200R711R400

Joint language courses

UCAS codeCzechFrenchGermanModern
FrenchRR1R RR12RQ17RR13R1R7RR15RRC7RR14
GermanRR2PRR12 RQ27RR23R2R7RR25RR2QRR24
Modern GreekQR77RQ17RQ27 RQ37 RQ57RQ77RQ47
ItalianRR37RR13RR23RQ37  RR35RR3RRR34
Polish R1R7R2R7    R791R4R7
PortugueseRR5RRR15RR25RQ57RR35  RRM7RR45
RussianR790RRC7RR2QRQ77RR3RR791RRM7 RRK7

B in the table below stands for Beginners. These courses allow students to study a new language from scratch, along with another language which they have already studied to A-level, or equivalent.

UCAS codeB. CzechB. GermanB. Mod. GreekB. ItalianB. PortugueseB. Russian
Czech  R702 RR97 RR73 RRN7R792
French RR1SR101 RR19R1R3RR1MRR17
German RRF7 RRG9 RR32RR2MRR27
Mod. Greek RR7YR910  RR93 RR59 QR7R
Italian RR3SR301RR39 RR3MRRH7
Portuguese RR75R501RR5X RR53 RR57
Russian R793R712RR79 RRJ7 RRNT 
Spanish RR4SR401RR49 RR43RR4MRR47

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