French is among the most widely-spoken modern languages in the world, with over 220 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.
Italian at Oxford allows you to learn this language of poetry and music, and to study in the original not just the great works of the past (of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli), but also famous recent writers (Pirandello, Calvino, Primo Levi, Anna Maria Ortese, Elsa Morante), as well as renowned exponents of the visual arts (Alberti, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Cellini) and cinema (Visconti, Fellini, Sorrentino). Contemporary Italy still has much to teach us, and students who spend their year abroad in Italy enjoy a unique, culturally enriching experience (not to mention the food, fashion and sport), regularly form lasting friendships with Italians, and often return there to live and work.
If you do not have an A-level or equivalent knowledge of Italian, it is possible to study Italian from scratch.
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 and focus on particular periods - the medieval, the early modern or the modern era.
Studying French and Italian
A degree in French and Italian is normally four years in length. You will spend around half your time studying French language and literature, and around half studying Italian 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 Italian
French can also be studied on its own. Either French or Italian can also be studied in combination with one of the following languages/subjects:
- One of the following modern European languages: German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, or Czech (with Slovak). It is also possible to combine French or Italian with Polish. We generally expect all students wishing to study Polish to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply.
- A Middle Eastern Language offered by the Faculty of Oriental Studies: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish. These languages are all available to beginners with no prior knowledge of the language.