Modern Languages and Linguistics | University of Oxford
Modern Languages and Linguistics
Commonly taught foreign languages.

Modern Languages and Linguistics

mortar boardUCAS codeSee course combinationscalendarDuration4 years with year abroad (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAbar chartAdmissions statistics*Interviewed: 86%
Successful: 34%
Intake: 27
*3-year average 2016-18
tickAdmissions test(s) workOne to three pieces
Head Subject requirements A modern language (depending on course choice)
 English Language, Maths, a science or any other language

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

This course allows students to study one modern language in depth together with linguistics, the study of language itself. Part of your course will consist of developing your practical language skills to a high level, and you will also explore the literature and culture of the relevant language (see Modern Languages). 

In your study of linguistics, you will be introduced to the analysis of the nature and structure of human language (including topics such as how words and sentences are formed, how we make and hear sounds, how languages change and vary and how language is organised in the brain) and you will apply these ideas to the study of your chosen language.

The University has particular expertise in general linguistics, phonetics, phonology, syntax and semantics, psycholinguistics and in the history and structure of many individual European languages and language families. All these combine to offer a mutually reinforcing package: on the one hand the theoretical study of what human language is and how it works; on the other, the detailed study of issues of language structure and change applied to the specific language you are studying. You will find a wide range of options available, allowing you to concentrate on those areas you find most exciting.

Undergraduate students have access to the Taylor Institution Library, the biggest research library in Britain devoted to modern languages, as well as to the University’s central library, the Bodleian, and many online resources. The University’s well-equipped Language Centre has study materials specifically tailored to the needs of Modern Language students.

International opportunities

Modern Languages students spend a compulsory year abroad, usually in the third year. You may work as a paid language assistant in a foreign school or do an internship abroad, both of which provide valuable opportunities to develop career experience while improving language competence. Alternatively your year may be spent studying at a foreign university. You will also be encouraged to spend as much of your time as possible during the vacations in the countries whose languages you 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“Studying at Oxford made me realise that I could, if I so chose to, do pretty much anything I wanted to in the world. That I studied at such a prestigious university was important consideration given by the employers (and can often be the difference in getting a job or losing out to someone from a non-Russell Group university).

Being from a state school background, it was eye opening to see how much work was involved in an Oxford degree, and I struggled at times. However, the tutors recognised hard work and I was able to share my passion for my chosen subjects with academics who were thought-leaders in the field.”

A typical week

Your typical week will include a tutorial on linguistics or literature, a linguistics class, language classes on different skills relating to the language or languages you study, and five or six lectures. 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



  • Modern Language
    • Practical language work (two papers)
    • Study of important works and/or topics in the literature of the language (two papers)
  • Linguistics
    • General linguistics
    • Phonetics and phonology
    • Grammatical analysis


First University examinations: seven written papers, including translation and literature



  • Modern Language
    • Practical language work
    • A period of literature
    • Optional further subject chosen from a wide range
  • Linguistics
    • General linguistics
    • History of the language you will be studying
    • Structure and use of that language in its modern form
    • One or two specialist options, for example: Syntax; Semantics and pragmatics; Phonetics and phonology; Sociolinguistics; Psycholinguistics; Linguistic project
The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Modern Languages website.


Final University examinations: eight or nine papers and an oral examination

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

 Essential:  For Linguistics and French, German, Modern Greek*, Italian*, Portuguese*, Russian and Spanish candidates would usually be expected to have the language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another academic equivalent.
 Helpful:English Language, Mathematics, a science or any other language may be useful for some elements of the course, although they are not required for admission.

*There is the option to study Modern Greek, Italian and Portuguese from scratch, meaning you would not be expected to have the language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or equivalent. 

No experience of studying Linguistics is required, though knowledge of the relevant modern language may be expected, as detailed below. 

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.

UCAS codes

Linguistics and
Modern GreekQQ71
Portuguese                        RQ51
Linguistics and
Beginners' Modern Greek 
Beginners' ItalianQR13
Beginners' PortugueseRQ5D

Admissions test

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

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

Written work

Description:For the language part of this course, candidates must submit the same written work as required for Modern Languages. Additionally, if you are studying an A-level or other qualification involving linguistic analysis (eg English Language), please also send in a piece of written work from that.
Submission deadline:  10 November 2019

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?

Language tutors look for a good command of any language you have already studied and want to continue studying at Oxford, and a strong interest in literature and culture. Linguistics is a subject that most students start from scratch at University. Therefore admission tutors look for potential, in the form of an interest in exploring the nature of human language, together with an aptitude for describing and analysing it. Furthermore, tutors look for a willingness to learn the formal tools required for rigorous and detailed investigation and leading to a deep understanding of the use, history and structure of the language you are studying. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Modern Languages website.


The training in rigorous analysis provided by Linguistics, coupled with highly developed practical competence in a language, gives graduates an excellent basis for a wide range of careers in language-related employment and other areas. Recent Modern Languages and Linguistics graduates include a management consultant, a brand marketing manager, a market researcher for a company in the chemical industry, and a psychology lecturer.

Joe, who went on to become a Head of Languages, said: ‘I really enjoyed studying the earliest Russian texts, written on birch bark, and looking at how the language had evolved and its impacts on the contemporary language. Investigating languages demands diligence, focus and determination; the course also developed many critical skills that are essential for interesting careers – analytical reading, discussion, listening skills, presentation skills, and a keen writing style. Thank you Oxford!’

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

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

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 Modern Languages and Linguistics

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

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
French and LinguisticsRQ11
German and LinguisticsRQ21
Modern Greek and LinguisticsQQ71
Beginners' Italian and LinguisticsQR13
Italian and LinguisticsRQ31
Beginners' Portuguese and LinguisticsRQ5D
Portuguese and LinguisticsRQ51
Russian and LinguisticsRQ71
Spanish and LinguisticsRQ41

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