BA (Hons) Modern Languages - University of Portsmouth
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BA (Hons)

Modern Languages

UCAS codeR902

full time4yrs

Immerse yourself in other languages, cultures and societies

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. This degree will help you to communicate effectively in many different contexts. Options such as translation, interpreting and language for professional communication will help you to become fluent in either one or two languages. But there is more to this: cultural competence is key to communicate effectively in another language. By studying what shapes contemporary societies’ identity, you will become culturally sensitive and advance your language skills to a high level.

You do not need prior knowledge of a language on this course, although if you take two languages you will need A Level (or equivalent) in one of them. You can start one language from scratch and will follow our excellent beginners' programme in your first years of study. At the end of your course you will achieve the same level of fluency as post-A Level students at graduation.  If you wish, you can also study a third language as an option.

One of the great things about studying languages is that you will have the opportunity to enjoy learning about other languages and cultures and to meet new people from other countries. On this course you will be taught by experienced and committed lecturers employing innovative, exciting teaching techniques such as interactive lectures, simulations, scenario exercises, making your own television broadcasts, debates and the latest audiovisual and digital resources. Our state-of- the-art ‘Conference Interpreting Suite’ allows our students to develop valuable first-hand experience in interpreting. You will also spend your third year abroad to experience your languages first hand, immersing yourself in the culture of the countries you are studying and making lasting friendships.

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

You can follow a single language on this course: 

  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

Or you can study two languages, chosen from:

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

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

What will I experience?

On this four-year course you can:

  • Study 1 language, from either beginner's or post-A Level, or;
  • Study two languages, one from post-A Level, and one from either post-A level or beginner's level.
  • Take an additional language (chosen from any of the above languages, plus Japanese, Arabic and British Sign Language) as an option
  • Spend a year abroad studying at a university or doing a work placement.
  • Take an optional Teacher Training (ITT) pathway, which entitles you to a bursary of £9,000 in the final year of your degree.

What opportunities might it lead to?

In a multilingual and multicultural job market, your skills and cultural and communication expertise can be used in many careers across the private, public and voluntary sectors and are extremely valuable to employers. You will be able to work across cultures, work with confidence in your language of study and take up a range of graduate employment opportunities or further study. 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 across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

In addition to translation, interpreting and teaching, our students have gone into areas as diverse as management, banking, marketing and sales, commerce, export, tourism, journalism and media, among others. 

Students who have taken the ITT pathway can go into teaching in English and Welsh schools straight after graduation. 


Jan Chodorowski, BA(Hons) French and Mandarin 2016

My degree has given me the confidence to travel and work abroad. I am now in Beijing to complete a MA in European and Asian Affairs.

Jan Chodorowski, BA(Hons) French and Mandarin 2016


Modern Languages and Area Studies

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

  • Combining the study of languages and their cultures, promoting a deeper understanding of the 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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Structure & Teaching

Year one

The first year consists 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 A Level in that language, or a language 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. These include Nation, Language and Identity; Starting Language Research; and Language Society and Mind.

Year two

In your second year you'll continue with the language(s) you're studying. Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Language for Professional Communication
  • Managing across Cultures
  • Text Analysis and Translation
  • Business and Markets in a Global Environment
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Communication
  • World and Transnational Cinema
  • LiFE: Learning from experience (work placement)
  • Introduction to Teaching (if taking the ITT pathway)
  • A third foreign language.

Depending on your language of study, additional options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • The French Exception: Contemporary French Politics & Society France in the World: Global Actor or Global Maverick?
  • Nazi Germany
  • Germany in the American Century
  • Revolution and Repression: Spain
  • Politics & Culture of the Hispanic World in the 20th Century
  • East Asian States and Societies
  • China and East Asian Economies

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 on a subject of your choice, continue with the study of your language(s) and choose from a range of units.

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Translation Theory and Practice
  •  Interpreting
  • Workplace discourse
  • Language, Gender & Sexuality
  • Writing to Persuade
  • Digital Communication
  • LiFE: Learning from experience (work placement)
  • Introduction to Teaching (if taking the ITT pathway)

In addition, you will be able to choose from the year 2 options, related to the country or countries you are studying, that you have not yet taken.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

*On this programme you will spend your third year studying abroad.

Year abroad

Your year abroad may be spent studying at a university or working through an arranged work placement. This allows you to develop your transferable workplace skills as an integral part of your studies. We work with a range of partners that offer teaching and work experience opportunities with NGOs and other voluntary organisations to students on their year abroad.

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 School of Education. It 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 a MFL teacher.


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, you will have regular and frequent tutorials.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 24% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 76% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 28% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 72% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 0% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 0% studying independently and 100% on work placement
  • Year four students: 14% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 86% studying independently and 0% on work placement


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

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

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

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 23% by written exams, 16% by practical exams and 61% by coursework
  • Year two students: 38% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 55% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year four students: 7% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 90% by coursework

Tutor's view


Marjorie Huet
Languages, Cultures and Communication

Languages, Cultures and Communication is a rich and varied multidisciplinary programme offering students the opportunity to study up to three modern foreign languages. Alongside developing strong language, professional communication and intercultural skills, students gain a real understanding of why and how the countries they are studying have become what they are today.

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Facilities & Features

Year Abroad

Discovering other people, their cultures and their languages is exciting and rewarding. The year abroad is also an exciting opportunity to develop friendships all over the world.

On this degree you will spend your third year in a country where your target languages are spoken. You can study through our well-established links with universities in China, France, Germany, Spain, West Africa, Taiwan and Latin America; you can also take up a post as a language assistant or, with University approval, 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 collaboration with various colleges, higher education institutions and development organisations in Dakar. So for those students who are taking French and want to venture beyond France during the year abroad, there is the opportunity to take up a placement with one of these organisations. In addition, we have a prestigious partnership with the British Senegalese Institute, offering opportunities to graduates to teach English in Dakar when they graduate. 

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.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
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
  • teacher
  • translater/interpreter
  • diplomacy
  • journalism
  • social enterprise
  • tourist guide
  • market analyst

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

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.

Career planning

Career planning

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.

Video Description

Portsmouth languages graduate, Orrin Thomas, reflects on his course and on his current role as a Business Development Manager.

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University of Portsmouth
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Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484