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BA (Hons)

Combined Modern Languages

Immerse yourself in other languages, societies and cultures

R901UCAS code 4yrsfull time 1yrabroad

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

The world is changing fast.  If you’re looking to understand these changes while immersing yourself in other languages, societies and cultures, then this is the course for you. Make yourself stand out in an increasingly competitive global job market by acquiring the language, cultural and professional skills that are sought after by employers. Options such as translation, interpreting and language for professional communication will help you to become fluent in two languages.  But there is more to this: cultural competence is key to communicate effectively in another language. By studying the recent history, and the current cultural, social and political debates which are shaping  contemporary societies’ identity,  you will  become culturally sensitive and thus advance  your language skills to a high level.  

You do not need prior knowledge in both languages on this course.  You can start one language from scratch. It is possible to follow our excellent beginners programme in your first years of study, and achieve the same level of fluency at graduation.  If you wish, you can also study a third language as an option.

You will study a wide range of specialist options covering different aspects of the cultures you are studying, with experienced lecturers employing innovative and exciting teaching techniques such as interactive lectures, simulations, scenario exercises, debate-discussions and the use of audio-visual sources. In particular, our state-of- the-art  ‘Conference Interpreting Suite’ allows  our students to  develop valuable first-hand experience in interpreting. You will also spend time abroad to experience your languages first hand, immersing yourself in the culture of the countries you are studying.

You can opt to follow a route through your degree that includes Initial Teacher Training (ITT). The ITT route entitles you to a bursary of £9,000 in the final year of your degree.

Language choices

  • French and German
  • French and Italian*
  • French and Mandarin*
  • French and Spanish
  • German and French
  • German and Italian*
  • German and Mandarin*
  • German and Spanish
  • Spanish and French
  • Spanish and Italian*
  • Spanish and Mandarin*
  • Spanish and German

* Italian and Mandarin only offered at Beginner's level for new students.

What opportunities might it lead to?

Language is used in a range of professional contexts including business, tourism, and finance – not just language teaching. Your transferable skills and area studies expertise can be used in many careers across the private, public and voluntary sectors. You may enhance your graduate employment opportunities, owing to strong partnerships with organisations across the globe. This course is great preparation for work at home or abroad and you will have a very wide range of career paths open to you. Our graduates  have found employment in such diverse careers as travel and tourism, working for international organisations, international research and consultancy, marketing, translation, interpreting, the media, NGOs, investment banking,  journalism or teaching foreign languages.

I particularly like the fact that on my course we learn about the history, culture and politics of the language studied as well as the language itself.

Ruby Ritter, BA (Hons) Combined Modern Languages student 2013

Want to start this course in 2017?

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Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
4 years full time with language year abroad
The UCAS tariff for 2017 entry has changed. See how this affects your tariff score A LEVELS
96-120 points from 3 A levels or equivalent, to include 32 points from an A level in a Modern Foreign Language. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

International students
2017/18 entry: full time: £12,600 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5566
School of Languages and Area Studies
Programme specification


Modern Languages and Area Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Combining language learning with the study of culture and politics, promoting a deeper understanding of a country/countries of study
  • Fantastic opportunities for spending a year abroad
  • Interactive and practical nature of studying that will prepare you for a wide range of careers

Browse all courses in Modern Languages and Area Studies

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

The first year consists mainly of core courses to ensure that you have a firm foundation for further study. You will consolidate the knowledge you have of a first foreign language, and either undertake an intensive course in a second, if you do not already have an A2 or AS Level in that language, or a project agreed with your tutors.

Alongside the language courses, you will also begin to take course units that provide you with an understanding and appreciation of the language areas you are studying. This is what we call 'area studies': the study of the history, society, culture and politics of the country or countries in which you are interested. The focus of these courses is mainly on recent history or contemporary issues and there are several comparative courses which enable you to study your chosen countries from a European or international perspective.

Year two

In your second year you'll continue with area studies options that relate to the languages you are studying.

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Language for Professional Communication
  • Business and Markets in Global Environment
  • Nation, Language and Identity
  • Managing Across Cultures
  • France from the Colonial Exhibition to the Liberation 1931-1945
  • Politics in Post War Germany 1949-90
  • France, 1945-1995: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?
  • German Unity and its Consequences
  • Revolution, Repression and Resistance in Contemporary Spain
  • 20th and 21st Century Chinese History, Politics and Society
  • Text Analysis and Translation
  • LiFE: Learning from experience (work placement)

Final year*

Begin your final year after time abroad, spending a term in each of the countries of your chosen languages. You’ll write up your dissertation and choose from a range of units.

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Nazi Germany
  • The Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime
  • Colonialism and the End of Empire in Black Africa: France and West Africa
  • The Politics & Culture of The Hispanic World In 20th Century Literature & Film
  • Translation: Theory and Practice
  • France in the World: Global Actor or Global Maverick?
  • Germany in the American Century
  • Political and Economic Development in 20th Century Spain
  • China and East Asian Economies
  • Colonialism and End Empire in North Africa: France and Algeria
  • Transitional Justice and Human Rights in Latin America
  • Interpreting
  • LiFE: Learning from experience (work placement)

Please note that not all options or special subjects will be available at any given time.

*On this programme you will spend your third year in a country where your target languages are spoken.

Initial Teacher Training route

In your first year, you will have the opportunity to apply for the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) route. If selected, you will complete a number of teaching placements, a professional practice teaching unit and a language research project. You will be entitled to a bursary of £9,000 in the final year of your degree and, on successful completion of the course, will gain Qualified Teacher Status.

The opt-in ITT route is available for French, German and Spanish routes, with training under expert lecturers from the University's PGCE team, and provides the ability to teach Modern Foreign Languages in English and Welsh schools. Throughout the course, you will develop and acquire specialist knowledge and skills in the language(s) you study, as well as professional skills which are central to the role of MFL teacher.

Teaching and Assessment

We provide a varied, creative and stimulating learning environment. Teaching is via lectures and seminars which are supported by the University’s interactive learning facilities. Classes may also take the form of hands-on skills development sessions where you learn how to access electronic resources in our Virtuoso multimedia digital classrooms (they are much more than language laboratories!) or via small oral practice classes with Language Assistants.  All students have a personal tutor and, throughout your time with us, regular and frequent tutorials will be organised with you.

How are you assessed?

Our assessment methods are varied, with a good mix of formal and innovative assessment. Here’s how we assess your work:

  • written essays
  • professional and business report
  • examination
  • case studies
  • book reviews
  • group and individual projects
  • oral presentations
  • use of software including desktop publishing, podcasts, subtitling and web design
  • portfolio of achievement

We provide prompt, constructive and positive feedback on the preparation of your work and on the final assessment.

Professor Tony Chafer

Tutor's view

Professor Tony Chafer
Combined Modern Languages

The course is different from most other combined modern language degrees in that it offers a multidisciplinary programme that develops both your language skills and your understanding of the society, history, politics and culture of the countries you are studying to an advanced level. This is what we call area studies. So you get a real understanding of why and how the countries you are studying have become what they are today.

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Year Abroad

On this programme you will spend your third year in a country where your target languages are spoken. You may take advantage of our well-established links with universities in China, France, Germany, Spain, West Africa and Latin America, should you wish to spend this period studying; alternatively, with University approval, you may be able to arrange a work placement abroad.

Language resources

You will have access to our state-of-the-art Language Laboratories, where you can manipulate video, sound, text and Internet sources in a rich, multimedia language-learning environment, and our recently refurbished Learning Resource Centre, with texts, study rooms, and IT facilities to augment your learning and support your assignment work. 

ITT route

Our opt-in Initial Teacher Training route offers the certification needed to become an inspiring and professional Modern Foreign Languages teacher in English and Welsh schools. On this route, you will study with experts from the University's PGCE team.

Opportunities in Dakar (Senegal)

We have a unique and prestigious partnership with the British Senegalese Institute offering opportunities to graduates and students on their year abroad. In addition, there are opportunities to take up a post as an English language assistant or to work in development organisations in Dakar during the year abroad.

Olivia Cook, BA (Hons) Combined Modern Languages student 2013

Personally, the year abroad was a highlight for me. Being able to meet students from all over the world and learn/study/work in another language at the same time was a great opportunity. What you learn from your year abroad is far more than what you learn in a class atmosphere.

Olivia Cook, BA (Hons) Combined Modern Languages student, 2013

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

For placements abroad that are taken in countries outside the EU/EEA, you will be required to meet travel costs. These costs will be in the region of £1000.

You will also be required to meet any extra tuition costs for units of study taken outside of your agreed study abroad programme. These costs will be in the region of £200.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

During your course, you will have the opportunity to develop a range of capabilities that are valued by prospective employers. You will be flexible, adaptable, good at setting and meeting targets, and above all, a good communicator. Your study experience abroad will give you a unique worldview and an intercultural awareness, which most other graduates will not possess.

You’ll be able to apply your language skills in careers across the private, public and voluntary sectors. You can expect to find work in areas as diverse as management, banking, marketing and sales, commerce, export, tourism and the media, among others.
Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • bilingual consultant
  • multilingual project coordinator
  • translator
  • market analyst
  • contracts representative

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunites
Employment boosting opportunites

Your year abroad may be spent working in cities related to the language(s) you are studying, either as a teacher or (with University agreement) through an arranged work placement. This allows you to develop your transferable workplace skills as an integral part of your studies.

The course also allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. This option gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, to reflect on the ways in which you've done so, and to learn to express this to potential employers.  You also have the option of following a route that includes Initial Teacher Training (ITT), required for teaching in English and Welsh schools.

The University has a unique and prestigious partnership in place with the British Senegalese Institute. The Institute, along with other partners in Dakar offers different opportunities to our graduating students each year. We also have a range of partners that offer teaching and work experience opportunites with NGOs and other voluntary organisations to students on their year abroad.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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