Philosophers busts on the terrace of Achillion palace, Corfu, Greece.
Philosophers busts placed on the terrace of Achillion palace, Corfu, Greece.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

Philosophy and Modern Languages

Course overview

UCAS code: See course combinations
Entrance requirements: AAA
Course duration: 4 years with year abroad (BA)

Subject requirements

Required subjects: One or more modern languages (depending on course choice)
Recommended subjects: Not applicable
Helpful subjects: Not applicable

Other course requirements

Admissions tests: MLAT (including Philosophy section).
Written Work: One/two pieces

Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 84%
Successful: 30%
Intake: 19 
Successful for a different course: 3%
Applicant intake for a different course: 2

*3-year average 2021-23

Modern Languages contact

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 270750
Email: [email protected]

Philosophy contact

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 276926
Email: [email protected]

Unistats information for each course combination can be found at the bottom of the page

About the course

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. This enables students to develop attention to:

  • stylistic and terminological detail
  • rhetorical strategies
  • and sensitivity to cultural and historical context

These skills are all 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. We admit 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. Opportunities for the year abroad include (but aren't restricted to):

  • working as a paid language assistant in a school
  • undertaking an internship
  • and/or studying at a University

These opportunities all 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. 

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. 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. Visit 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, and there may be costs relating to visa or Covid-testing requirements for travel.

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. For UK students with a shortfall in their finances, the University’s Student Support Fund can also 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.'


Unistats information

Discover Uni course data provides applicants with Unistats statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford for a particular undergraduate course.

Please select 'see course data' to view the full Unistats data for each of our language courses.

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small. 

Visit the Studying at Oxford section of this page for a more general insight into what studying here is likely to be like.

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 doctoral level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Year 1

Indicative courses


  • 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)

Years 2 and 4 (year 3 spent abroad)

Indicative courses


  • 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 Philosophy options and current Modern Languages options is available on both 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:                    


International Baccalaureate (IB):

39 (including core points) with 666 at HL                                                                          

Any other equivalent qualification:

 View information on other UK qualifications, and international qualifications.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.

View further information on how we use contextual data.

Subject requirements


Candidates would usually be expected to have the language 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, German, 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 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 on our Applying to Oxford pages.

The following information gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions tests



Test date:

To be confirmed

Registration deadline:                   

To be confirmed                                                                                 

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. Guidance on how to prepare can be found on the MLAT page

We will be putting in place new arrangements for our admissions tests for 2024 onwards. We will provide more information on these arrangements at the earliest opportunity. 

Written work


Candidates must submit the same written work as required for Modern Languages, please visit 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 2024

Visit our further guidance on the submission of written work for more information, and to download a cover sheet.

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. 

Visit the Philosophy website and the Modern Languages website for further information about the selection criteria for this course.


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.

Note: These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2024. Course fee information for courses starting in 2025 will be updated in September.

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 students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.


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.

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 2024 are estimated to be between £1,345 and £1,955 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 2024 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home students with a family income of around £50,000 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £32,500 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 Philosophy and Modern Languages

During the year abroad, students currently pay significantly reduced fees to the University. Fees for later years have not yet been confirmed but as an example, the course fees for a new-cohort undergraduate student on a Humanities course going on a year abroad in 2024 would equate to:

  • Home students: £1,385 for the year.
  • Overseas students: £13,110 for the year (please note this is an illustrative example for 24/25)

We recommend that students begin to research the costs associated with the various year abroad options as early as possible in the second year of the course. There is plenty of support, information and advice to help you.

Work placement costs, study costs, visa costs and living costs (such as accommodation) and travel expenses will vary depending on the destination and the activity undertaken.

Certain year abroad activities may provide a salary, depending on placement type and terms. Some funding towards year abroad placements is currently available through the Turing scheme, which provides living costs grants and enhanced support for disadvantaged students. The University plans to bid for Turing scheme funding to support year abroad activity in future academic years. 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 for those with insufficient funds 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.

You can find the latest information about the Turing scheme at Oxford, on our dedicated webpage.

Course data

Click in each of the following course options to view further subject specific information and the Unistats data provided by Discover Uni for each subject option.

Course links

UCAS codes

Philosophy and Beginners' Czech


Philosophy and Czech


Philosophy and Beginners' German


Philosophy and French


Philosophy and German


Philosophy and Beginners' Modern Greek


Philosophy and Modern Greek


Philosophy and Beginners' Italian 


Philosophy and Italian


Philosophy and Beginners' Portuguese


Philosophy and Portuguese


Philosophy and Russian


Philosophy and Spanish


Contextual information

Unistats course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about a particular undergraduate course at Oxford. For a more holistic insight into what studying your chosen course here is likely to be like, we would encourage you to view the information below as well as to explore our website more widely.

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 tutorials will be doing the same course as you. 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.

Read more about Oxford colleges and how you choose