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Portuguese and Spanish (BA)

Entry year


Portuguese and Spanish BA (joint honours) gives students the opportunity to combine two popular European languages.

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Course overview

The School of Modern Languages aims to develop and educate its students to become ‘global citizens’. With in-depth study of both Portuguese and Spanish, two major world languages, you will gain a wealth 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.     

Portuguese is a language with global importance, from Portugal and Brazil to several countries and regions in Africa and Asia. The British Council has identified Portuguese as one of the most vital languages for the future of the UK in the next 20 years and it is one of the most widely spoken community languages in the UK.

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.

We offer Portuguese and Spanish for both advanced students and beginners. 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 Spanish and Spanish history and culture seeks to provide a solid foundation for more specialised studies as you progress through your course     

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 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 both Portuguese and Spanish culture and 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 Spanish and Portuguese history, culture, literature, politics and contemporary society.   

Distinctive features

  • High-quality language teaching delivered by native speakers, with blended learning and digital technologies embedded in the teaching and assessments designed to feed forward into future learning.
  • A vibrant programme of extra-curricular activities to support your language learning and immersion into Portuguese and Spanish culture, including extra optional conversation classes with Erasmus students and the student language societies.
  • A curriculum with a clear learning arc, drawing on the latest research and providing a thorough understanding of Portuguese and Spanish culture.
  • A structured skills programme which embeds academic, transferable and employability skills into learning from the very beginning.
  • The option of taking a credit-bearing work placement.
  • The opportunity to spend your third year either studying or working in a country that predominantly operates in Portuguese or Spanish.
  • An exciting range of opportunities beyond your formal studies to engage with local schools and communities in promoting language learning and develop your own skills and profile.
  • Benefit from links with the Spanish Embassy which has a satellite office at our School.
UCAS codeG5Y5
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time

Entry requirements

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

ABB - BBB. You will not need to achieve these from any specific subjects but applicants holding a B in relevant language A-levels will have access to the Languages advanced pathways. Please note that General Studies will not be accepted. 

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDM - DMM in Social Science, Humanities, Arts or Science subjects.

IB 32-30 or 665-655 from 3 HL subjects

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Modern Languages admissions criteria pages.

If you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.

You will require GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. Alternatively, IGCSE English First Language or English Second Language will be considered at grade C. 

Selection

Each candidate's profile is considered as a complete picture, taking into account your interest in and suitability for the degree, as shown in your personal statement and referee's report, as well as achieved and predicted grades. Your ability to present an argument, evidence of intellectual curiosity and your enthusiasm for and commitment to studying will also be assessed.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment

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.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This full-time course lasts for four years with two semesters per year. There are 120 credits a year split equally between your two language choices. 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 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

You will combine Portuguese with Spanish, allowing you to experience more than one field of study.

In year one we run two pathways for students; an advanced pathway aimed at students with an A-level and heritage learners who wish to deepen their existing knowledge of the language, history and cultures of the Portuguese/Spanish-speaking worlds, and a beginner’s pathway for students with limited or no knowledge of Portuguese or Spanish.

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.

You will also study a non-language module which introduces you to the development of the Portuguese-speaking and the Hispanic world, exploring how what both cultures and languages have symbolised for different groups at different moments in history. It also explores Portugal and Spain’s exchanges with the world, enabling you to explore Portugal and the role of the Hispanic world beyond the national borders. Studies in these areas will enable you to develop a good understanding of intercultural awareness, and the highly-prized ability to mediate between cultures.

Year two

The language elements of year two build on the work undertaken in year one, and prepare you for your year abroad.

In addition to 30 credits Portuguese and Spanish language, you will study 30 credits looking at the Portuguese-speaking world and the Hispanic world in a transnational context. This will introduce you to key approaches, methodologies and critical tools which you can apply to an in-depth study, looking at a range of topics such as culture, history and politics. You will also have the option of studying 30 credits of Business Language and Specialised Translations.

Outside of your formal studies, you will have the opportunity to take part in our highly-praised Student Mentoring Scheme, which is supported by Welsh Government. The scheme places undergraduates into local schools to mentor pupils and encourage them to consider modern foreign languages when choosing their GCSE options.

You may also choose to take part in the Student Language Ambassador (SLA) scheme, acting as an advocate for language learning. Following specific training, as an SLA you may get the opportunity to speak publicly at events, sharing your personal experience of language learning. You may take part in a range of activities, such as language taster sessions, presenting and promoting the year abroad, supporting School language days and events, or promoting modern languages at career fairs or open days.

Year three: Sandwich year

In year three you will spend one semester in a Portuguese speaking country and one in Spanish speaking country, immersed in the languages.

Your options include studying at one of our partner universities, working as an English assistant in a school, or working for an 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.

We have Erasmus exchanges in Lisbon, Coimbra, Braga and strong links with universities in Brazil. Students have also organised professional internships in cities such as São Paulo. In Spain we have links in Barcelona, Caceres, Ciudad Real, Granada, Santiago de Compostela y Valencia. In Spanish America we have exchange agreements with universities in Lima (Peru), Mexico City and Guadalajara (Mexico).

Year four

When we welcome you back to Cardiff in your final year, you will continue to develop your language skills, studying 30 credits of Portuguese and 30 credits of Spanish language, in addition to 60 credits of optional modules.

You will also have the opportunity to build on the broad base of knowledge and skills you have developed to study an area of research expertise in the School, through taught modules and/or a dissertation. You will have the opportunity to take part in our very popular teaching module, an accredited module where you will build on study and workshops at the University to undertake a teaching placement at one of our partner schools in the area.

You will also have the opportunity to take part in our very popular Student Teaching module, an accredited module where you will build on study and workshops at the University to undertake a teaching placement at one of our partner schools on the area.

The module allows you to go into local secondary schools and teach pupils who are learning foreign languages. You will have the opportunity to observe teaching by professionals, take part in classroom activities and generate new learning materials. This in turn enhances your ICT, presentation, preparatory and organisational skills and, ultimately, your employability. Those students who wish to go onto a career in teaching gain valuable experience which can be used to feed into their PGSE application. These students also have the opportunity to take a dedicated (optional) training session for PGSE applications with an expert in the field.

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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Most of our modules consist of a mixture of lectures, seminars and language classes that enable you to develop communication and analytical skills, and to develop critical thinking in a supportive environment.

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 engage critically with key ideas and explore the ideas outlined in lectures in a small group environment, usually consisting of around 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.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

23%

Guided independent study

77%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

38%

Guided independent study

62%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

0%

Guided independent study

0%

Placements

100%

Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

38%

Guided independent study

62%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor when you arrive. Personal tutors are members of the academic staff who will be on hand to provide advice, guidance, help and feedback.

A reading week each semester allows 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.

Our undergraduate Professional Services Team provides academic and student support for all programmes. The team are located in a dedicated ‘student hub’ within the school and provide information and guidance in response to any queries you may have. We also have a dedicated Student Support Administrative Officer within the School, who can provide you with the necessary advice and guidance in a supportive, caring and confidential environment.

We pride ourselves on the level of engagement we have with our student body, giving you the opportunity to express your opinions and be partners in School decision-making where possible. We survey students regularly to make sure we are always working in your best interests.   

Beyond the School, the University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, the Academic Skills Development Centre and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback 

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?

Essays, written examinations and oral presentations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capability to gather, organise, evaluate and communicate 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 for submission, while written feedback on submitted work feeds forward into future work, enabling you to develop your strengths and address any weaker areas.  You may also be provided with additional oral feedback. 

The optional final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth and to acquire detailed knowledge about a particular field of study. You will develop your research skills by collecting and presenting material, and your evaluative skills by formulating a clear, cogent argument and drawing appropriate conclusions.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

60%

Practical exams

7%

Coursework

33%

Year 2

Written exams

62%

Practical exams

9%

Coursework

29%

Year 3

Written exams

40%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

60%

Year 4

Written exams

62%

Practical exams

9%

Coursework

29%

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:

  • develop your linguistic skills as well as a broad appreciation of the culture, literature and history of Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries
  • 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
  • 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.

Other information

What do employers think about this programme?

As part of the curriculum design, the School consulted with employers’ organisations about the attributes they look for in graduates. Employers highlighted the importance of intercultural awareness and the ability to write well in English, both of which are key learning outcomes for the programme, in addition to developing super language skills and the ability to think critically analytically.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

In 2016/17, 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 after graduation they take time out to continue travelling or they go abroad to work.

Our graduates flourish in the job market as our employment statistics underline. Their language degrees lead them into a diverse and exciting range of careers which have included finance, international sport liaison roles, business consultancy, education, health, the media, politics, diplomacy, interpreting, translation, law and teaching.

Placements

Year three is spent working or studying in a Portuguese speaking country, or a Spanish speaking country.

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