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), as well as renowned exponents of the visual arts (Alberti, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Cellini) and cinema (Pasolini, Bertolucci). 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.
Options for studying Italian at Oxford
Italian can be studied on its own as a single language, though you would need to take some options in Linguistics as well in your first year.
You can also study Italian in combination with one of the following languages/subjects:
- A modern European language: French, German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, or Czech (with Slovak). Students who do not have an A level or equivalent in the relevant language may (in all cases, except French or Spanish) combine Italian with a Beginners’ version of the language. It is also possible to combine Italian with Polish or Celtic. We generally expect all students wishing to study Celtic or Polish to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply. (Please note that our Celtic courses are currently under review and will not be available for entry in 2017, or for deferred entry in 2018.)
- 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.
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.
A degree in Italian, or Italian combined with another language/subject, is normally four years in length. Modern Language students usually spend the third year of their course abroad (except if they are taking Beginners’ Russian, in any available combination, in which case they spend the second year abroad). This is often as a paid language assistant in a foreign school, though you may work abroad or study at a foreign university.
Italian on its own
If you study Italian as a single language, in addition to studying Italian language and literature, you will also be required to take some options in Linguistics.
Italian with another European language
If you are studying for a joint degree combining Italian with another language, you will spend around half your time studying Italian language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature.
Italian with a Middle Eastern language (BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages)
If you are studying for a joint degree combining Italian with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, you will spend around half your time studying Italian language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature. In the first year, however, there is less literature in the European language to allow for intensive focus on the Middle Eastern language. You will normally spend your second academic year at an approved course of study in the Middle East. You are strongly advised to spend the adjacent summers where the European language of your choice is spoken.
Italian and another subject (English, Classics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy)
If you are studying for a joint degree combing Italian with another subject, around half of the degree programme will consist of Italian language and literature, and around half will be made up of courses related to the other subject.