Birkbeck, University of London

Degree level: Undergraduate
Awarded by: University of London

Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)

Course options

There are other course options available which may have a different vacancy status or entry requirements – view the full list of options

Make sure you check on the university, college or conservatoire website for any updates about course changes as a result of COVID-19.

Course summary

Would you love to develop your understanding of the cultures and values that lie at the heart of different countries and become a highly proficient linguist in the process? Our BA Modern Languages gives you the opportunity to specialise in one or two languages from a choice of French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. If you choose to study one language, you will normally enter with at least AS- or A-level (or equivalent) in that language (except Japanese, which allows beginner-level entry), and your eventual degree title will be one of the following to reflect this specialisation*: 

  • BA French Studies
  • BA German Studies
  • BA Japanese Studies
  • BA Spanish and Latin American Studies
If you decide to take two languages, you can study one from beginners’ level and the other one from A-level or equivalent level, which will allow you to raise your language skills to near-native standard in at least one of the two languages. Your eventual degree title will name both languages, for example, BA French and Spanish. Whichever language or languages you choose, you will develop your cultural understanding through modules exploring literature, film, popular culture, visual art or linguistics. Cross-cultural modules will also allow you to analyse comparative themes across a variety of linguistic and cultural contexts. At the same time, you will also master transferable skills such as summary and essay writing, oral presentations and written reports, critical and logical thinking, and translating. If you choose the four-year full-time BA Modern Languages with International Experience ( you will normally spend your third year abroad at a partner institution to allow you to develop your language skills and knowledge of the culture further.  If you opt for the Foundation Year route (, this will fully prepare you for undergraduate study. It is ideal if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied the relevant subjects, or if you didn't achieve the grades you need for a place on your chosen undergraduate degree.  *Please note that Italian can currently only be taken together with another language, not on its own.  Highlights
  • You will be taught by specialists from our Department of Languages, Cultures and Applied Linguistics, a centre of teaching and research excellence.
  • Ours is a community of scholars with shared interests in interdisciplinary topics and cross-cultural research. Our affiliated research centres, the Centre for French, Francophone and Comparative Studies (CFFCS) and the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS), provide an important platform for this exchange.
  • All teaching takes place in our central London location in Bloomsbury, a stone’s throw from research libraries and all the cultural richness that London has to offer by way of theatre, museums and galleries.
  • You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group - now home to our School of Arts. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery, the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space.
Careers and employability Graduates can pursue career paths in education, publishing, or commerce and banking. Possible professions include:
  • translator
  • interpreter
  • secondary school teacher
  • broadcast journalist
  • English as a Foreign Language teacher.


For information about course structure and the modules you will be studying, please visit Birkbeck’s online prospectus.

Assessment method

Essays and written and oral examinations.

How to apply

Points of entry

The following entry points are available for this course:

  • Year 1

This course may be available at alternative locations, please check if other course options are available

International applicants

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests. We also accept other English language tests.

Entry requirements

Qualification requirements

We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential. On this programme you can focus on two of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish. You must have at least A-level/B2 (CEFR) competence in one of your two languages, unless the stronger of your two languages is Japanese, in which case GCSE-level (70% of the content that is needed to pass the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N5) is sufficient. Your second language can be at any level from beginner onwards. The programme is also suitable for applicants at proficiency and native speaker level. FOUNDATION YEAR DEGREES Our 'with Foundation Year' route is designed to give you extra support as it provides you with an additional year (full-time) or two years (part-time) of supported study. This is an ideal route if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied this subject, or if you did not achieve the grades you need for a place on this degree. Once you successfully complete your Foundation Year studies, you will automatically advance onto the main degree. ALTERNATIVE ENTRY ROUTES Credits gained on the Certificate of Higher Education in Culture and Language (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) can be counted towards the degree.

Additional entry requirements

Admission tests


Institutions Own Test (IOT)

Those who do not have an A-level/AS or equivalent qualification will normally be required to complete a language placement test and may be asked to attend an interview.

Unistats information

Operated by the Office for Students

There is no data available for this course. For further information visit the Discover Uni website.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £6935 Year 1
Northern Ireland £6935 Year 1
Scotland £6935 Year 1
Wales £6935 Year 1
International £12015 Year 1

Additional fee information

Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases.
Modern Languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish) at Birkbeck, University of London - UCAS