Portuguese is one of the six most widely spoken world languages, with over 230 million native speakers worldwide, in Portugal, Brazil, Africa and beyond, and is becoming ever more important as a language of commerce. Portugal is an established member of the EC and Mercosul, and Brazil is the largest and fastest developing nation in South America.
If you do not have an A-level or equivalent knowledge of Portuguese, it is possible to study Portuguese from scratch.
Options for studying Portuguese at Oxford
Portuguese cannot be studied on its own as a single language, but it can be studied in combination with one of the following languages/subjects:
- A modern European language: French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, 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 Portuguese with a Beginners’ version of the language. It is also possible to combine Portuguese 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.
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.
A degree in Portuguese 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.
Portuguese with another European language
If you are studying for a joint degree combining Portuguese with another language, you will spend around half your time studying Portuguese language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature.
Portuguese with a Middle Eastern language (BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages)
If you are studying for a joint degree combining Portuguese with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, you will spend around your time studying Portuguese language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature. In the first year, 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.
Portuguese and another subject (English, Classics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy)
If you are studying for a joint degree combing Portuguese with another subject, around half of the degree programme will consist of Portuguese language and literature, and around half will be made up of courses related to the other subject.
For more information, please see Portuguese on the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages website.