Modern Languages: Russian | University of Oxford

Modern Languages: Russian

With its magnificent literature, richly expressive language and fascinating history, Russia appeals to a wide variety of interests. The range and flexibility of the Oxford course provide opportunities for rewarding study which might include, for example, Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's novels, Pushkin's poetry, or the latest writing from contemporary Russia; the history of the Russian language and its development up to the present day; material from the Russia of Ivan the Terrible or Peter the Great or Stalin; related topics in film, the visual arts and music.

If you do not have an A-level or equivalent knowledge of Russian, it is possible to study Russian from scratch.

Options for studying Russian at Oxford

Russian 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 Russian in combination with one of the following languages/subjects: 

  • A modern European language: French, German, Spanish, Italian, 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 Russian with a Beginners’ version of the language. It is also possible to combine Russian 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.
  • English
  • Classics
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy

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 Russian, or Russian 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.

Russian on its own

If you study Russian as a single language, in addition to studying Russian language and literature, you will also be required to take some options in Linguistics.

Russian with another European language

If you are studying for a joint degree combining Russian with another language, you will spend around half your time studying Russian language and literature, and around half studying the other language and related literature.

Russian with a Middle Eastern language (BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages)

If you are studying for a joint degree combining Russian with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, you will spend around your time studying Russian 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.

 Russian and another subject (English, Classics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy)

If you are studying for a joint degree combing Russian with another subject, around half of the degree programme will consist of Russian language and literature, and around half will be made up of courses related to the other subject.