Italian and Philosophy (BA)

The Joint Honours degree in Italian and Philosophy provides you with the opportunity of specialising in two university honours subjects.

Many students find studying a joint honours stimulating and rewarding as they are able to observe both similarities and differences between the two subjects. By combining Philosophy and Italian, you will gain a variety of transferable skills and knowledge beneficial to the world of employment, making you competitive and attractive in an increasingly global workforce and opening the doors to a variety of career paths.     

There are two related aspects of the philosophy course at Cardiff that mark it out among Russell Group universities. One is that there is a strong emphasis on ethics, politics, and aesthetics among the modules on offer. The other is that our research and teaching is spread equally across both the ‘analytic’ and ‘Continental’ styles of Western philosophy, allowing students to develop a full understanding of both with the possibility of an informed choice to specialise in one approach or the other.

Since Roman times, the Italian contribution to world culture has been enormous as it is obvious to anyone who steps foot in the country, however briefly. But Italy is not just a country of singular cultural importance. It is a major political partner in the European Union, and it is a leading force in fields such as engineering and architecture. It is the home of the design and fashion industries. 

Italian at Cardiff University enables you to access, analyse and evaluate current developments across the Italian speaking world as well as the cultures and values of the past. Having studied Italian, you will be ready to take advantage of the wide-ranging opportunities open to language graduates today.

In terms of language acquisition, this course will enable you to develop your writing, oral and aural skills through a range of learning activities, and using a variety of audio-visual materials. In your first year, in addition to your language tuition, an introduction to history and culture seeks to provide a solid foundation for more specialised studies as you progress through your course.    

You will develop high-level language skills with the aim of achieving near-native competency along with in-depth knowledge of aspects of the culture, history, politics and society of Italy. You will spend your third year in Italy, practising and developing your language skills. We offer Italian for both advanced students and beginners.

It is important to remember that studying languages is not just about the language itself. It involves examining many aspects of a country and its culture, its social structures and institutions, politics, history, literature and cinema. Through the study of such areas you are able to gain a better understanding of Italian culture and of how it has evolved over the centuries, becoming what it is today.

On completion of this four-year programme, you will have a high level of language proficiency, as well as a critical understanding of key aspects of Italian history, culture, literature, politics and contemporary society.   

Each school involved in delivering the degree offers a challenging course of modules, supported by a friendly atmosphere and excellent staff-student relationships.

Distinctive features

  • core modules that guarantee a solid base for all, but then allow you, with advice from your personal tutor, to carve out a programme that will best fit your interests and career aspirations
  • a pathway into this degree for beginners who do not have Italian A-level
  • a year spent studying or working in Italy.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Studying in WelshUp to 33% of this course is available through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information
Typical places availableThe School of Modern Languages typically has 185 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of Modern Languages typically receives 600 applications.
Typical A level offerABB, excluding General Studies. Three A-level subjects, generally including a B in a modern language for the Italian beginners pathway or B in Italian for the advanced pathway. Exceptions can be made according to personal circumstances. Two AS subjects may be considered in lieu of a third A-level.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above), excluding any specified language A-levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34-36 points overall including 5 at higher level in a modern foreign language.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

This full-time course lasts for four years with two semesters per year. There are 120 credits a year, split equally between the two subjects. Most modules are worth 20 credits. The third year is spent abroad.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

Year one is a foundation year to give you the skills for advanced study and an overview of the two subjects to inform your later choices. You will take 120 credits in total equally split between 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in Italian.

The compulsory philosophy modules focus on the nature of thinking and introduce the central concepts, theories, arguments, and approaches of contemporary moral and political theory. 

In year one Italian you will build on core linguistic skills and be introduced to Italian culture, literature, civilisation and politics. There are two pathways available: an advanced pathway for students with an A-level or equivalent competence in Italian and a beginner’s pathway for students with limited or no knowledge of Italian.

The first year of this programme provides a thorough foundation in the grammar of the language for those students on the beginner’s pathway, and develops the linguistic skills for post A-level students on the advanced pathway.

To provide a foundation for more specialised studies, you also study modules devoted to the history and culture of modern Italy as well as Italian politics, economics and society.     

Module titleModule codeCredits
Critical ThinkingSE410720 credits
Modern Italy: Birth of a Nation?ML810320 credits
Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 credits
Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Advanced Italian Language Year 1ML818840 credits
Beginners Italian Language Year 1ML818940 credits

Year two

In year two you will again take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in Italian.

There are no compulsory Philosophy modules in year two, allowing you to choose the path you take to lay a solid foundation for your final year.

In Italian you will have training in the critical analysis of concepts, theories and methods. The language elements of year two Italian focus on preparation for the year abroad.  This is complemented by a variety of optional modules which, as a supplement to Italian-specific topics, normally include modules on European film, comparative literature and cultural history, as well as translation theory and practice.           

Year three: Sandwich year

Year three is spent in Italy. Your options include studying at one of our partner universities, working as an English assistant in a school through the British Council Scheme, or working for an Italian organisation or company. No matter what you choose, the year abroad is a great opportunity for you to improve your understanding of the language, immerse yourself in another culture, and gain international study or work experience.  

If you choose the study option, we have established academic links with universities in Milan, Pavia, Parma, Pisa, Verona, Trento, Venice, Florence and Catania. 

Placements for teaching assistants on a scheme run by the British Council can take you either a major city or a small, rural town. This option provides first-hand teaching experience and allows you to earn a salary sufficient to live on, although you only work on a part-time basis. Prior to the start of your placement, the British Council provides a training weekend in the destination country. In addition, the school you have been assigned to should also guide you in your role as a teacher and help you to find a place to live.

The third option consists of a work placement with an organisation or company in the Italian-speaking world. The necessary arrangements can be made through personal contacts you may have or by approaching organisations directly. In order to ensure that your work placement affords you plenty of opportunity to speak Italian and provides you with a beneficial experience, such arrangements will require prior approval by the School.

Any student who undertakes a study placement or a traineeship/work placement in Europe is eligible to apply for an Erasmus grant.      

The year abroad is a great opportunity for you to improve your understanding of the language, immerse yourself in another culture, and gain international study or work experience.

While you are away from Cardiff, you will be assigned a year abroad coordinator, who will keep in touch with you and monitor your progress. You may also get a visit from one of your lecturers who will be keen to find out how you are getting on.

Final year students are usually happy to help with our regular year abroad briefings and have contributed to our extensive ‘year abroad module’ on Learning Central which provides you with student-centred advice throughout your year abroad.

Studying or working abroad is excellent preparation for your final year and gives you a level of self-confidence and maturity that has proven popular with employers.

Year four

In your final year you will take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in Italian

Your final year is based around Philosophy modules that reflect the current research activities of the staff who teach them, building on the themes studied in year two. You will read and think about the very same texts that the module leader is currently thinking and writing about.

We no longer distinguish between beginner and advanced Italian students in the final year and all students will take the same language modules. You will refine your linguistic skills in terms of expression and translation, and specialise in your areas of interest by choosing specialised module options. 

Our final year dissertation module gives you the option to write a dissertation and engage more deeply with a chosen topic area, as well as extending your research and analytical skills.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

We offer a supportive learning environment, where you are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge. Our courses foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team working, independent research and time management.

You will be taught both by lecture and seminar. Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop your own ideas. Seminars provide an opportunity for you to explore the ideas outlined in the lectures.

Seminars usually consist of about 15 students and the seminar leader (a member of the teaching team). Seminars may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small-group work and student-led presentations.

Language classes are taught in groups to enhance confidence and active learning. A varied timetable includes oral expression, aural comprehension and writing skills, which are taught in small groups to enhance confidence and active learning. These vital communication skills are practiced and developed through regular classwork exercises and written work. Our teaching methods allow you to engage with a range of language-learning technologies. Materials including textbooks, videos, films, novels, audio files and websites are supported by online resources that compliment classroom activities and promote and enable independent learning. Class materials include a range from literary and historical to contemporary journalistic texts, providing a broad insight into language and culture.    

How will I be supported?

As well as having regular feedback from your personal tutor in each course, you will have a reading week each semester for guided study and a chance to catch up on assessed work, reading and revision. These weeks are also used by staff to visit students on their year abroad.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


We’ll provide you with frequent feedback on your work. This comes in a variety of formats including oral feedback, personalised feedback on written work and general feedback in relation to examinations. You will also be able to discuss your overall performance with your personal tutor.

How will I be assessed?

A range of assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios and creative assignments.

Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Dedicated essay workshops and individual advice enable you to produce your best work, and written feedback on essays feeds forward into future work, enabling you to develop your strengths and address any weaker areas.

The optional final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic of interest to you in depth and to acquire detailed knowledge about a particular field of study, to use your initiative in the collection and presentation of material and present a clear, cogent argument and draw appropriate conclusions.

What skills will I practise and develop?

As a result of engaging fully with this course, you will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’. These will allow you to:

  • grasp complex issues with confidence
  • ask the right questions of complex texts
  • have an imaginative appreciation of different views and options and analyse these critically
  • identify and apply relevant data
  • develop practical research skills
  • linguistic skills and a broad appreciation of the culture, literature and history of Italian and Italian-speaking countries
  • propose imaginative solutions of your own that are rooted in evidence
  • communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively in writing and speech
  • work to deadlines and priorities, managing a range of tasks at the same time
  • learn from constructive criticism and incorporate its insights
  • work as part of a team, developing a collaborative approach to problem-solving
  • use IT programmes and digital media, where appropriate
  • take responsibility for your own learning programme and professional development.

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

In 2013/14, 91% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

We provide our students with a highly satisfying academic experience that assists their development as critically-minded, culturally-aware citizens whose high analytic skills, powers of expression and progressive self-reliance make them extremely attractive to employers.

School of Modern Languages

In 2013/14, 95% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

Many graduates enjoy their year overseas so much that they take time out for more travel, or go abroad on graduation in the hope of finding a job. Of those who choose to remain in the UK, many start work immediately following their studies.

Employment options include roles as translators, language assistants, export assistants and proofreaders, working with their languages in organisations such as Bearmach Ltd, the British Council, Global Response and Inter Global.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will not need any specific equipment.

Year three is spent working or studying in Italy.

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.