Spanish and Japanese (BA)

Spanish and Japanese BA (joint honours) gives students the opportunity to combine the study of two important world languages.

The School of Modern Languages aims to develop and educate its students to become 'global citizens'. With in depth study of both Spanish and Japanese, two major world languages, graduates will be competitive and attractive within an increasingly global workforce. You will develop high-level language skills in both languages, and achieve near-native competency, along with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of aspects of the culture, literature, history, politics and society of Spain and Japan.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. Spoken by more than 400 million people across more than 20 countries worldwide, it is one of the most useful languages in the world for business and leisure alike. It opens doors to a vibrant and diverse range of cultural experiences.

Japan is one of the most powerful economies in the world, with Japanese businesses and organisations continuing to be in need of English-speaking graduates who can understand Japanese and who are knowledgeable of Japanese culture and society.

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 including websites, films and new learning technologies.

It is important to remember that studying languages is not just about the language itself. It involves exploring many aspects of a country and its cultures, literature and cinema, history, social structures, politics and institutions.

The third year of your course will be spent abroad: one full semester in Spain or another Hispanic country, followed by an approximately three-month placement in Japan. These placements abroad will provide you with the opportunity to truly immerse yourself into the language and culture of both countries.

Key facts

Duration4 Year(s)
Typical places available
Typical applications received
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerAAB, including a B in a modern foreign language.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core plus AB at A Level, including A in Spanish.
Typical International Baccalaureate offerConsidered on individual merit.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements.
Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.
QAA subject benchmark

Languages and related studies

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Carlos Sanz-mingo , Course Administrator

    This is a four year degree of which the third year is spent in Japan and Spain.

    Year one

    In the first year you will take modules in the Japanese language, which are designed to introduce the language and its writing system. You will also study key points from Japanese history, so that further study of the modern country can be pursued in later years.

    The remainder of your modules will be taken from modules within the School of Modern Languages covering the Spanish language as well as cultural modules relating to Spain.

    Year two

    In the second year you will take further modules in Japanese, which are designed to increase the facility with which you can comprehend and use more advanced Japanese. At the same time, your knowledge of Japan and Japanese society is increased through lectures and seminars on modern Japanese society. The remainder of your modules will be taken from modules covering the Spanish language as well as cultural modules relating to Spain.

    Year three: Sandwich year

    In the third year of study, you will spend approximately half the year in the relevant European country and half in Japan. The time in Japan is spent studying in a Japanese university with which the Centre has an exchange agreement. By this stage you should have a sufficient command of the spoken language to operate comfortably in Japan and gain the maximum benefit from your period of study there.

    Year four

    You will then return to Cardiff for the final year to take a further modules in Japanese. More advanced study of the Japanese language during this year is accompanied by study of a key aspect of modern Japan.

    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.

    Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping students to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop their own ideas.

    Seminars provide an opportunity for students to explore the ideas outlined in the lecture in a small group environment. Seminars would 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. Seminars offer a rewarding opportunity to engage critically with the key ideas and reading of a topic, and to explore areas of particular interest with an expert in the field. It is vital that students prepare for seminars (undertaking any set reading, developing independent critical thought) in order to gain the maximum benefit from the sessions.

    Lectures and seminars enable students to develop communication and analytical skills, and to develop critical thinking in a supportive environment.

    Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing students’ 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 enables students to produce their best work, and written feedback on essays feeds forward into future work, enabling students to develop their strengths and address any weaker areas.

    Dissertation: The optional final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic of interest to you in depth and thereby 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.

    Pastoral Care: You will be allocated a personal tutor for the entire period you are at the University. Personal tutors are members of the academic staff who are available to students seeking advice, guidance and help.

    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.

    The destinations from the School are often international in nature, with many graduates enjoying their overseas student experience to such an extent that they opt to take time out to travel further, or go abroad on graduation in the hope of securing employment. 

    Of those who choose to remain in the UK, many start work immediately following their studies. Their employment options are varied and many opt to utilise the language skills that they have developed over their degree, in roles such 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.


    • Teaching
    • Interpreter
    • Banking and Finance


    4 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    Contact the School for detailed information

    Applications received

    Typical applications received

    Contact the School for detailed information


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    Languages and related studies

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    The aim of the BA in Spanish and Japanese is to give students a knowledge both broad and detailed of the languages, literature, cultures, societies, history, and politics of the Spanish speaking world and of the Japanesespeaking world. The languages which will be acquired and learned to near-native proficiency are Spanish and Japanese. The course comprises both language and content elements: these are mutually reinforcing (i.e. by reading a book in the target language you acquire more of the language and by acquiring more of the language, you have more access to the diverse cultures which use it). The language work integral to the course develops skills in translation, aural comprehension, written composition, grammar, and spoken fluency. Content modules enable students to pursue their interests in Spanish and Japanese as they are used across a variety of media and occupations, from film to politics, and from philology to business. Development of professional language skills remains a core element of the programme throughout: students choose content from optional modules (including Catalan language and culture) to complete their studies in years two and four. The third year is spent abroad, with one semester in a Spanish speaking country and one semester in a Japanese speaking country.

    The programme offers exchanges with eight universities in Spain as part of the Erasmus scheme as well as with partner universities in Mexico and Peru. A British council assistantship or voluntary and paid employment can also fulfil the requirements for the third year where the degree scheme allows. The programme accommodates both post-A level students and ab-initio candidates who follow a more intensive language course in years one and two. The achievement of transferable skills, such as graduate-level vocabulary and written expression are also important aims of the programme. 

    What is expected of me?

    Students are expected to attend all timetabled teaching (lectures, seminars, small groups teaching, tutorials) for the modules on which they are enrolled. Students are also expected to stay up to date with communications from their lecturers and tutors through email and/or Learning Central. In the first year, each contact hour should correspond to at least two hours of private study; in the second and fourth years each contact hour should correspond to at least four hours of private study.

    Students are required to undertake a full academic year of study abroad. While they are overseas students are expected to engage fully with the culture and society of the host countries in order to further the language learning process.

    Students who fail to engage may be excluded from the University. Students must reference their essays accurately, avoiding plagiarism, which, if proven, can have serious consequences for a student. Advice is provided by tutors and in handbooks on how to avoid plagiarism.

    Full expectations of students are outlined in the Student Charter.

    Students are expected to treat their peers and the staff who teach and administer their courses with dignity and respect.

    Cardiff University is a workplace and campus committed to diversity and equality and students are expected to be mindful of University policy.

    How is this Programme Structured?

    The programme is offered as a full-time course of study over four years (including year three which is spent abroad). In year one students follow core courses in language (20 credits Spanish and 20 credits French) as well as introductory modules on Hispanic and Japanese cultures and societies (20 credits each). In years two and four students also have a core language course (40 credits, 20 in Spanish, and 20 in Japanese) and make up the remainder of the 80 credits by choosing four optional modules (two in Spanish, two in Japanese). Optional modules are semesterised with the exception of Catalan, which is a double semester option. The year abroad will be split between two countries.

    Students must reach the bar for passing each year before being able to proceed. The award of the BA is conditional on successful completion of each phase of the programme.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    What the student should provide:

    Many students choose to invest in personal copies of unabridged bilingual dictionaries and reference grammars. While copies of most course materials are available in the library, many students opt to acquire personal copies of set texts.

    What the University will provide:

    The School provides a number of IT and study rooms; students have full borrowing rights across the University libraries; the University also provides email and internet access, including enrolment in the virtual learning spaces used to support contact hours (Learning Central). The School provides enrolment in the Erasmus programme in the third year for students who select this pathway for completion of the compulsory year abroad.

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    You will practise skills which enable you to communicate in Spanish and Japanese, in writing and also orally. You will develop the ability to express yourself conversationally as well as to speak knowledgeably about the broad range of issues which form the disciplines of Hispanic Studies and JapaneseStudies. Skills in translation, composition, and oral proficiency will be developed through the language elements of the programme; skills in understanding and reflecting critically on a text will be developed in the content modules. Seminar work will allow you to practise and develop public speaking and presentation skills. The year abroad will enhance your independence and problem-solving skills. This set of skills will be transferable to real and workplace environments and the emphasis on written and oral presentation equips you well for communicating and for standing out from the crowd. You will acquire near-native proficiency in Spanish and in Japanese. You will also develop your abilities for forming and critiquing evidence-based arguments. Interpersonal skills are developed through participation in small group teaching and seminars.

    You willdevelop your linguistic skills and acquire an appreciation of the culture, literature, and history of the Spanish speaking world and of the Japanesespeaking world. You will gain team work and interpersonal skills through participation in seminars and small group teaching. You will become better at managing your own time, taking initiatives and acting independently. Your studies will also enhance your employability prospects by giving you the challenge of managing a year abroad, and taking up opportunities to act as a staff-student representative, as a teaching assistant, or as a student ambassador teaching Spanish or Japanesein Cardiff’s catchment area.

    How will I be taught?

    Most content modules are taught through a combination of lectures, private study, seminars and personalised feedback. Weekly lectures provide guidance concerning the issues and bibliography to be followed up in your own reading and writing. Lectures are usually supplemented by seminars throughout the semester. For each seminar you will complete at last four hours of private study, and in the session itself you will use the knowledge thus acquired to present the conclusion of your reading around a particular text or other assignment. In your essays you will combine a range of sources into a coherent argument of your own, supported by evidence of reading and of familiarity with the core text.

    Language modules are taught in small group format. For the various aspects of language work you will be assigned to a group of between 12 and 15 students and lecturers and tutors will provide you with guided exercises to do in the course of the class, in addition to illustration of syntactical and lexical problems. Oral feedback from tutors is immediate in small group teaching and is also provided through regular submission of assessed written work. In each year of the programme you will have between four and five hours of language classes per week (per subject).

    For some optional modules, such as the Student Ambassador scheme, teaching will also involve practical work in schools and in pairs or tandem arrangements where students enrolled at Cardiff work in collaboration with an incoming Erasmus student from one of the partner universities in Spain and/or Japan. Students interested in teaching may have the possibility of completing an internship teaching Japanesein a UK secondary school.

    The programme is not currently available through the medium of Welsh although students can opt to complete assessed work (including exams) not intended to be in the target language in either Welsh or English. 

    How will I be assessed?


    Modules are assessed by submission of essays and other work (for example, assigned translations or self-study units), preparation of written or oral reports, dissertation, and examination (written and oral). The weighting of feedback varies and as a rough guide examinations comprise 70% of assessment and classwork 30%. During the year abroad, students on the Erasmus programme submit work and attend exams in Spain and Japanese and the partner universities transmit the grades to Cardiff. Students in Mexico or Peru, and those doing British Council placements or voluntary and paid work, are assessed by extended essays (one in Spanish and one in Japanese) which are submitted to staff in Cardiff in the course of the year abroad. Students may receive an oral proficiency mark for grades above 70% in the year 4 oral exam.


    Students receive feedback both on formally assessed pieces of work and through the teaching and learning process more generally. Marginal comments and a completed assessment sheet form the feedback for written work; oral assessment will convey feedback about presentation and reports delivered in seminars. Elements of language work will provide assessment through exercises embedded in Learning Central, the virtual study environment.

    How will I be supported?

    All students are allocated a Personal Tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs. He or she will schedule regular meetings to discuss progress and to provide advice and guidance. Students communicate with their lecturers and tutors outside contact lectures and seminars by visiting them during advertised office hours and/or by email.

    Modules make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, on which students will find course kits, links to related materials, and instructions for the submission of course work. Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are made available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module and through scheduled meetings with personal tutors.

    Half way through each semester one week is set aside for reading and private study: this allows students the opportunity to apply themselves to the preparation necessary for the completion of their coursework and exams. During this time, tutors visit exchange universities in Spain and France to offer guidance and support to students on their year abroad.

    The assessment framework is able to incorporate reasonable adjustments for dyslexic and disabled students. Where students with sensory impairments are able to produce and understand written and spoken English or Welsh (or another first language), reasonable adjustments can be made to facilitate the acquisition and use of a second language (for example, the provision of adaptive software for students with impaired vision or the use of induction loops for students with hearing impairment). The year abroad is an essential requirement of the programme and students who are not able to travel overseas would therefore not be able to complete the course.

    Applicants with dyslexia and/or disabilities may find useful the information published by the University’s Disability and Dyslexia Service for prospective students. 

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    Graduates from this Programme will be able to:

    • Produce a high level of fluency in oral and written Spanish and Japanese
    • Express ideas and concepts clearly in written and spoken Spanish, Japanese, and English
    • Demonstrate proficiency in the core language competencies
    • Assess the central role of language in the process of creating meaning and knowledge
    • Demonstrate intellectual skills which allow detailed reading, assessment, and production of texts of different types
    • Demonstrate and defend reasoned and evidence-based arguments
    • Appreciate how language and culture are interlinked in the production of meaning and understanding
    • Evaluate and critically discuss texts, concepts and theories relevant to the fields of Hispanic Studies and JapaneseStudies
    • Demonstrate an understanding of a range of texts (including film) from different historical periods, from different genres, and from different areas of the Spanish and French speaking parts of the world
    • Demonstrate a good understanding of the position and importance of Spanish and French in the modern world
    • Use information technology to present and analyse materials in an effective manner, including using software to check and improve language
    • Achieve skills in self-motivation and self-directed study

    Other information

    Cardiff University is one of the primary users of the Erasmus mobility scheme in the UK; in addition to offering students a convenient (and financially supportive) means of studying in Spain, EUROP’s engagement with the scheme means that our students are working alongside peers from Spain (and other European countries) throughout their time at the university.

    Students taking this course may be particularly interested in the following features that are likely to increase their employability:

    --The possibility for students of Business Japaneseto sit the internationally recognised examination of the Paris Chamber of Commerce.

    --The chance for students interested in teaching to undertake an internship teaching Japanesein a UK secondary school

    --The possibility of working with the British Council as an assistant during the year abroad

    --The opportunity for all students to organise, on their own initiative, a suitable work placement abroad in one or both semesters of the intercalary year. 

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Carlos Sanz-mingo , Course Administrator

      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.