Modern Languages: French and German

French is among the most widely-spoken modern languages in the world, with over 300 million speakers worldwide. It is an official language in such diverse places as Louisiana, Martinique and Belgium as well as France itself, and the many different kinds of French that exist ensure that the language remains central to a thriving variety of cultures. The literature, art and cinema of France are among the richest and most influential in the world.

German is spoken as a first language by approximately 100 million people, and is widely used as a second language, especially in Eastern Europe. Germany is the UK's most important trading partner and remains the powerhouse of the European Union. Contacts with Germany are of ever-increasing importance for the governments, businesses and citizens of the new Europe. The culture of the German-speaking countries is exceptionally rich and vibrant. 18% of the books published worldwide each year are in German. German-speaking writers, thinkers and artists have long been and continue to be at the forefront of intellectual life.

Modern European Languages at Oxford

The study of European languages at Oxford provides both practical training in written and spoken language and an extensive introduction to the literature and thought of the language(s) you have chosen. You will learn to write and speak the language(s) fluently, and will be able to choose from a broad range of options including linguistics, film studies and advanced translation. You can study the literature of a language chronologically or focus on particular periods - the medieval, the early modern or the modern era.

Studying French and German

A degree in French and German is normally four years in length. You will spend around half your time studying French language and literature, and around half studying German language and literature. You will spend the third year of your course abroad. This may be as a paid language assistant in a foreign school, or you may work abroad, or study at a foreign university.

Other options for studying French or German

Either French or German can be studied on its own OR in combination with one of the following languages/subjects:

  • One of the following modern European languages: Spanish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, or Czech (with Slovak). It is also possible to combine French or German with Polish. We generally expect all students wishing to study Polish to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply. It is also possible to start German from scratch in combination with another language which you have studied at A Level or equivalent.
  • A Middle Eastern Language offered by the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish. These languages are all available to beginners with no prior knowledge of the language.
  • English*
  • Classics*
  • History*
  • Linguistics*
  • Philosophy*

*It is also possible to start German from scratch in combination with one of these subjects.