Philosophy and Modern Languages | University of Oxford
Philosophy and Modern Languages
Philosophers busts placed on the terrace of Achillion palace, Corfu, Greece.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

Philosophy and Modern Languages

UCAS codeSee course combinationsDuration4 years with year abroad (BA)
Entrance requirementsAAASubject requirements

 One or more modern languages (depending on course choice)

Admissions test(s) (including Philosophy section)

Written workOne/two pieces
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 85%
Successful: 33%
Intake: 21
*3-year average 2017-19


+44 (0) 1865 270750
Email Modern Languages
+44 (0) 1865 276926
Email Philosophy

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.

Philosophy and Modern Languages brings together some of the most important approaches to understanding language, literature and ideas.

The study of philosophy develops analytical rigour and the ability to criticise and reason logically. It allows you to apply these skills to questions ranging from how we acquire knowledge and form moral judgements to the nature of language, art and literature. Since many works of literature are shaped by the dominant philosophical ideas of their epoch, study of philosophy can illuminate that intellectual background.

The study of a modern European language develops analytical and critical abilities as well as highly competent linguistic skills. Studying the literature written in that language contributes to an understanding of many aspects of European culture, enabling students to develop attention to stylistic and terminological detail and rhetorical strategies, and sensitivity to cultural and historical context, all of which are of great value to the study of philosophy. Studying these two disciplines in parallel has numerous advantages and affords students greater insights into each.

The Philosophy Faculty is the largest philosophy department in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, admitting around 450 undergraduates annually to read the various degrees involving Philosophy. Many faculty members have a worldwide reputation and our library and other facilities are acknowledged as among the best in the country.

Oxford’s Modern Languages Faculty is one of the largest in the country, with a total intake of more than 250 students a year, including those reading joint degrees. The Taylor Institution is the biggest modern languages research library in the UK. The Modern Languages Faculty also has an undergraduate lending library, and students are able to take advantage of the well-equipped Language Centre

International opportunities

Modern Languages students spend a compulsory year abroad, usually in the third year. Past opportunities abroad have typically included 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.  However, for students choosing to undertake activity in Europe, please note that the types and nature of activities available may be subject to variation as arrangements relating to the UK’s departure from the EU are progressed. 

The University is working with European partners to seek to maintain the opportunities available to its students on the same terms as previously, and is committed to ensuring that funding arrangements remain similar to those for previous years, as far as reasonably possible. As negotiations relating to the UK’s departure from the EU advance, the availability of paid work in the EU, and the types or terms of work available for students undertaking their year abroad, may vary. You can find the latest information here. Students will be kept informed of any developments relating to year abroad arrangements as these become clearer. 

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 may provide a salary. Students can apply for a living costs grant, subject to the UK’s continued participation in the Erasmus+ programme or an equivalent framework. In the event that agency funding is not made available for Erasmus+ activity following the UK’s departure from the EU, the University has committed to providing living costs grants on a similar basis to current Erasmus+ grants. However, some costs related to year abroad activity may increase following the UK’s departure from the EU. You can find the latest information here.

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. 

 “My one-to-one tutorials gave me the tools and confidence to analyse and question accepted knowledge, perspectives and structures. These skills have transferred to a variety of roles since graduating, enabling me to challenge and improve my performance and that of others. The reflex of continuous learning that my degree instilled in me has helped me adapt to different sectors – from oil and gas to international development – and navigate across diverse cultures on the four continents where I’ve worked.”

A typical week

Your work will be divided between one or two tutorials and about six hours of lectures each week, in addition to about two or three hours of classes (first-year logic, language classes throughout the course). The rest of your week will be spent in independent study to prepare essays for tutorials and improve your command of your language.

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 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.



  • Philosophy
    • General philosophy
    • Moral philosophy
    • Logic
  • Modern Languages
    • Practical language work (two papers)
    • Study of important literary works and/or topics (two papers)


First University examinations: six written papers (two in Philosophy, four in Modern Languages)



  • Philosophy
    • Either Early Modern philosophy
    • Or Plato’s Republic
    • Or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
  • Modern Languages
    • One literature paper
    • Practical language work (two papers and an oral examination)
  • Further options
    • Either four further papers in Philosophy (many options, including a thesis) and one further paper in Modern Languages from a range of options, which may include prescribed authors from the 12th to 20th centuries, options in linguistics, or special subjects
    • Or three further papers in Philosophy and two further papers in Modern Languages as above (one of which may be an extended essay)
    • Or two further papers in Philosophy (many options, including a thesis) and three further papers in Modern Languages as above (one of which may be an extended essay)
The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on both Philosophy and Modern Languages websites.


Final University examinations: nine written papers (with a minimum of three in Philosophy and four in Modern Languages; one Philosophy paper may be replaced by a thesis; some Modern Languages papers may be replaced by a thesis or a portfolio of essays); Modern Languages 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: 39 (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: 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 unless applying for a beginner's course.  

For Philosophy: candidates are not required to have any experience of studying Philosophy though some background reading is highly recommended. 

For Czech, Italian, Modern Greek and Portuguese: Please note there are different course codes for these languages, depending on whether you are applying with an A-level or equivalent in the relevant language, or if you are applying for a beginners’ course. 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: MLAT 
Test date:4 November 2020       
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2020                                                                                                    

All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) as part of their application. Candidates will need to take two sections of the MLAT: one for their chosen language, and one for Philosophy, see here for further details. 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.

Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the MLAT page

Written work

Description: Candidates must submit the same written work as required for Modern Languages, please see Modern Languages for further details. The piece of written work submitted in English may also be seen by philosophy tutors, so it should show your capacity for reasoned argument and clear writing; a good length would be between 1000 and 2000 words.  Most candidates will not be studying philosophy, so there is no expectation that it will be on a philosophical topic.
Submission deadline: 10 November 2020

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?

At interview, tutors will be looking for interest in the proposed fields of study, relevant linguistic ability, a critical and analytical response to questions and/or texts and the ability to defend a viewpoint by reasoned argument. For further information about the selection criteria for this course, please see the Philosophy and for Modern Languages websites.


Philosophy and Modern Languages graduates enter careers including academic teaching and research, teaching, commerce, banking and financial services, journalism and communications. The analytical and reasoning abilities gained from a degree in Philosophy, combined with the communicative skills gained in a degree in Modern Languages, make graduates highly employable in the UK and abroad.

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

Further information for EU students starting in 2021 is available here.


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2021.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
Overseas (including EU)£31,230

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 2021 are estimated to be between £1,175 and £1,710 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

Home/Republic of Ireland

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK) and Republic of Ireland students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2021 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK/Republic of Ireland 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 Philosophy and 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 2021, who started an undergraduate course from 2019, the course fees are:

  • Home/Republic of Ireland/Islands students: £1,385 for the year.
  • International students: £10,620 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 here 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 the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ Programme or equivalent framework. 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 Erasmus+ study exchanges do not pay tuition fees to other institutions, though for some destinations, additional charges, which apply to all students at that institution, may be payable. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the University’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme or equivalent framework is not guaranteed. The University is committed to working with partner institutions to seek to maintain arrangements relating to fees and charges on the same terms as previously, as far as possible. If you study outside Erasmus+ (or equivalent 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 Erasmus+ programme at Oxford, on our Erasmus webpage.

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

KIS data linksUCAS codes
Philosophy and Beginners' CzechVR5R
Philosophy and CzechVR57
Philosophy and FrenchVR51
Philosophy and GermanVR52
Philosophy and Beginners' Modern GreekVR59
Philosophy and Modern GreekVQ57
Philosophy and Beginners' Italian RV35
Philosophy and ItalianVR53
Philosophy and Beginners' PortugueseVR5M
Philosophy and PortugueseVR55
Philosophy and RussianVRM7
Philosophy and SpanishVR54

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