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Modern Languages (BA)

Why study this course


A dynamic experience

Learn from native and near-native speakers, with blended learning and digital technologies embedded in teaching and learning activities.


Extra-curricular activities

A vibrant programme supports your language learning and immersion into the culture, including conversation classes with exchange students, language cafes and student language societies.


Focus on the future

A structured skills programme embeds academic, transferable and employability skills into learning from the beginning.


Employability opportunities

The option of taking a credit-bearing work placement.


The world is your classroom

Spend your third year studying or working in the countries of your chosen languages.

Languages open doors to a variety of career paths.  Our aim at the School of Modern Languages is for you to become a ‘global citizen’ who thinks critically, understands cultural diversity and has a wealth of transferable skills.

On our 4-year BA Modern Languages programme, you’ll develop high-level communication and critical-thinking skills, and foster resilience and independence through time spent in immersive foreign language contexts. 

You can choose to study one or 2 of the seven different languages we offer*. These include: 

  • Chinese
  • French 
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese 
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

We run 2 programme pathways. One for those with an A-level or equivalent competence in a modern language (Upper Elementary) and one for those with limited or no knowledge of a modern language (Elementary).

You’ll explore the languages you’re studying and their social, political, historical and cultural contexts from a global perspective. Through a variety of language learning resources and materials, and range of student-centred learning activities, you’ll develop your reading, writing, oral, listening and mediation skills. 

An integral part of this programme is the opportunity to spend time working or living abroad to experience life in the culture of the language(s) you are studying.  You’ll have the choice of either studying at a partner university or completing a work placement in each semester.

On completion of this programme, you’ll be a confident and independent user of one or 2 modern foreign languages, able to speak and write fluently and accurately, and read, understand and analyse complex texts in those language(s) and in English with confidence.

It’s important to remember that studying languages is not just about the language itself, it involves the integrated study of language, culture and society. Our programme offers challenging and stimulating modules with a strong emphasis on cultural diversity, and celebrates cultural and linguistic mobility.  

 * Please note: Chinese can only be taken as a single language, not in combination with any other language.

Subject area: Modern languages and translation

  • academic-schoolSchool of Modern Languages
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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 0824
  • MarkerCathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

A level

ABB-BBB. If you have grade B in a language at A-level you will have access to the languages Upper Elementary pathway.

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

Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.

  • Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
  • Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.

Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects. If you have grade 6 in a HL language you will have access to the languages Upper Elementary pathway.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.


Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.


At least 90 overall with a minimum of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading, and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 69 overall with a minimum of 59 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Other qualifications from inside the UK


DDM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Arts, Humanities, Science, and Social Science subjects. If you have grade B in a language at A-level in combination with or in addition to the BTEC you will have access to the languages Upper Elementary pathway.

T level

M in a T Level in any subject.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees for 2025 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2025/26 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Additional costs

You should be prepared to invest in some key texts and to cover the costs of basic printing and photocopying for your own use. You may also want to buy copies of other texts, either because they are important for your modules or because you find them particularly interesting. 


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

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

BA Modern Languages is a 4-year degree programme. It is structured in such a way that you will acquire over successive years, the language competencies and skills to become a resourceful, independent, pluri-lingual critical thinker, equipped for professional employment.

In each year of the programme, you’ll study 120 credits. Your third year will be spent studying or working in a modern language country. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2025/2026 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2025.

Year one

Year 1 is designed to equip you with the essential skills and knowledge that will form the foundation of your degree. You’ll take two 30-credit language modules and two 30-credit cultural-historical modules.

You’ll study 2 languages at either Elementary or Upper Elementary level. Combining your chosen language with another of the languages we offer allows you to experience more than one field of study and to develop the flexibility and intercultural competence that potential employers are looking for.

The first year provides a thorough foundation in the grammar of the language for students on the Elementary pathway and develops the linguistic skills for students on the Upper Elementary pathway.

In addition to your language tuition, you’ll study a cultural-historical module for each of your chosen languages.

Year two

In Year 2, you’ll study four 30-credit modules. You can continue to study 2 languages or chose to concentrate on one language only.

If you choose a single language pathway, you’ll study one 30-credit language module and three 30-credit optional modules.

If you choose a two-language pathway you’ll study two 30-credit language modules and two 30-credit optional modules.

The language elements of year 2 build on the work undertaken in year 1. You’ll have advanced from the level of your year 1 language module(s), and you should see how your linguistic abilities, cultural awareness and overall confidence as a language user keep growing. You’ll advance your linguistic skills by studying language modules at Intermediate or Upper-intermediate levels. These modules prepare you for your time abroad in year 3.

In addition to language, you’ll study 30 credits looking at cultures, societies and histories of your chosen languages from a global perspective. You’ll develop a more advanced and critical awareness of how these linguistic and geographic regions have shaped and been shaped by other cultures, global developments and events.

You can gain increased linguistic and professional skills by opting to study a business language or specialised translation module for one of your languages.

If you study Spanish, you’ll also have the option of a Catalan language and culture module in year 2.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Spanish IntermediateML025030 credits
Spanish Upper IntermediateML025130 credits
Mandarin Chinese Upper IntermediateML126030 credits
Mandarin Chinese IntermediateML126130 credits
Portuguese IntermediateML429030 credits
Portuguese Upper IntermediateML429130 credits
Japanese 2ML527030 credits
French IntermediateML623030 credits
French Upper IntermediateML623130 credits
German IntermediateML726030 credits
German Upper IntermediateML726130 credits
Italian IntermediateML827030 credits
Italian Upper IntermediateML827130 credits
Hispanidad in the WorldML020030 credits
Introduction to Catalan Language & CultureML026930 credits
China in the WorldML126630 credits
The Portuguese Speaking World in a Global ContextML420030 credits
Japan in the WorldML520030 credits
Global France: French and Francophone CulturesML621030 credits
Germany in the WorldML721030 credits
Italy in the WorldML820030 credits
The World and Language of Business (Spanish Intermediate)ML025230 credits
The World and Language of Business (Spanish Upper Intermediate)ML025330 credits
The World and Language of Business (Chinese)ML126330 credits
Introduction to Specialised TranslationML220130 credits
The World and Language of Business (Portuguese)ML428530 credits
The World and Language of Business (Japanese)ML528530 credits
The World and Language of Business (French Intermediate)ML623230 credits
The World and Language of Business (French Upper Intermediate)ML623330 credits
The World and Language of Business (German Intermediate)ML726230 credits
The World and Language of Business (German Upper Intermediate)ML726330 credits
The World and Language of Business (Italian)ML828430 credits

Year three: Sandwich year

Your third year will be spent in a foreign language-speaking country enabling you to develop your language skills, deepen your understanding of the culture and develop your independence, resourcefulness and resilience. 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.

If you choose a single language pathway you’ll spend a full academic year in the country of the language you are studying. If you choose a two-language pathway you will spend one semester in each of the countries where your languages are spoken.

There are 3 options for your year abroad.

  1. We have established exchange programmes which provide opportunities to study in institutions in cities in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.
  1. A teaching placement - placements for teaching assistants on a scheme run by the British Council can take you to either a major city or a small, rural town in a wide variety of countries. 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.
  1. A work placement - available to students studying French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. You’ll undertake a work placement with an organisation or company in the modern language-speaking world. The necessary arrangements can be made through personal contacts you may have or by approaching organisations directly. The school may also advertise suitable work placements. To ensure that your work placement affords you plenty of opportunity to speak your chosen language and provides you with a beneficial experience, such arrangements will require prior approval by the school.

No matter what you choose, the year abroad is a fantastic opportunity for you to improve your understanding of the language, immerse yourself in another culture, and gain international study or work experience.

Any student who undertakes a study placement or a traineeship/work placement is currently eligible to apply for Welsh Government Funding or Funding from the Turing Scheme.

Students who do not have citizenship rights in the relevant country must acquire a visa in order to work or study abroad. We have no control or influence over VISA application processes but will work with you to support and guide you in your preparations for visa applications and for your Year Abroad more broadly.

Year four

When we welcome you back to Cardiff in your final year, you will develop your linguistic, critical thinking and research skills further.

If you choose a single language pathway, you’ll study one 30-credit Advanced language module and three 30-credit optional modules.

If you choose a two-language pathway you’ll study two 30-credit Advanced language modules and two 30-credit optional modules.

You’ll also have the option expand your skills base and horizons through optional cultural-historical modules and through a wealth of extra-curricular options. Final year optional modules may vary from year to year, but they generally feature an array of contemporary topics and themes pertinent to one language or presented in a comparative, transnational framework. Themes and topics may include literature, film and visual culture, history, colonialism, and gender studies. The range will vary depending on whether you are studying one language or 2.

You’ll have the opportunity to write a dissertation, in which you’ll design and carry out a research project on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of academic staff.

You may also take part in our very popular teaching module, during which you’ll undertake a teaching placement at one of our partner schools in the area.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Spanish AdvancedML037030 credits
Mandarin Chinese AdvancedML138030 credits
Portuguese AdvancedML437030 credits
Japanese 3ML537030 credits
French AdvancedML637130 credits
German AdvancedML738030 credits
Italian AdvancedML837030 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Spanish (in Spanish)ML036030 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Spanish (in English/Welsh)ML036130 credits
Catalan Language & SocietyML036230 credits
The Falklands War in Argentine CultureML036530 credits
Revolutionaries & Nationalists in SpainML036830 credits
Specialised ChineseML137130 credits
Sinophone Cultures: Hong Kong, Taiwan & Chinese DiasporasML137230 credits
Final Year Dissertation Chinese (in English/Welsh)ML137330 credits
Culture, Political Protest & Dissent in the 1960s ML336030 credits
European Cinema: Thinking the Real of FictionML336230 credits
Student Teaching ModuleML336330 credits
Global Narratives of Colonialism, Slavery & Their Legacies ML336530 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Portuguese (in Portuguese)ML436330 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Portuguese (in English/Welsh)ML436430 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Japanese (in English/Welsh)ML536330 credits
Memory & Symbols in JapanML536430 credits
Final Year Dissertation - French (in English/Welsh)ML626230 credits
Final Year Dissertation - French (in French)ML636130 credits
The French Avant-Garde: From Art to RevolutionML637030 credits
Final Year Dissertation - German (in English/Welsh)ML735930 credits
Final Year Dissertation - German (in German)ML736130 credits
United but Divided? Exploring German UnificationML736730 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Italian (in Italian)ML836230 credits
Final Year Dissertation - Italian (in English/Welsh)ML836330 credits
Italian Women's WritingML836430 credits

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

We employ a range of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, language classes, and workshops. 

Lecture content provides an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you with the skills to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop and try out your own ideas. These materials may be delivered to you in face-to-face format or provided in a digital format so that you can study them at your own pace and convenience.

Seminars are interactive classes that consist of a small group of students and a member of the module teaching team. They may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small group work and student-led presentations. Seminars provide a dynamic environment in which you can explore and critically engage with the ideas and debates outlined in lectures. 

Our language teaching focuses on active learning and meaningful student participation. Ample opportunities are provided to regularly practise and develop the key language competencies and skills. Classes are designed to expand your linguistic proficiency and enhance your confidence and communication skills in a friendly and supportive environment. 

Class preparation and independent study form a key part of your learning. Between classes, you’ll prepare material, evidence and arguments, and complete language tasks individually or in groups. To support your independent language learning, the School of Modern Languages has developed a bank of recommended language learning resources and activities, which you are encouraged to engage with as part of your independent learning portfolio. 

How will I be supported?

You’ll be guided through your studies by a Personal Tutor, who is able to advise you on academic issues. If you encounter any problems which affect your studies your personal tutor should always be your first point of contact. You’ll meet with your personal tutor twice during each academic year, but you are encouraged to get in touch with them at any other time if you need help or advice. All academic staff have designated hours where they are available to meet with students.  

During your year of study or work abroad you’ll be assigned a Year Abroad Coordinator, who will keep in touch with you and monitor your progress.

Each module has its own dedicated space on the Cardiff University Virtual Learning Environment where you’ll be guided through the weekly activities and tasks you need to complete. You’ll have access to shared learning materials and resources such as lecture recordings, language tasks and resources, information about assessments and links to digital resources including the library materials available in electronic format. 

Professional Services staff in our Undergraduate Student Hub are available to answer your questions. We also have a dedicated Student Support Officer within the school, who can provide you with the necessary advice and guidance in a supportive, caring and confidential environment.

Student Life Services, located in the Centre for Student Life, offers a range of services. These support services encompass: Advice and Money, Student Futures, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, the Student Disability Service, Academic Study Skills and Student Mentoring, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

How will I be assessed?

Our assessments are designed to support you in developing your ideas, skills and competencies. They encourage you to be innovative and creative, to think critically about the texts and cultures you encounter and to present evidence-based arguments both in English and through the medium of the languages you study. 

You’ll study the building blocks of the language, including grammatical and lexical patterns and structures. These skills will be regularly assessed over the course of your language modules, which reflects the progressive and accumulative nature of language learning.

We use traditional assessment formats (such as essays, exams, quizzes, oral exams, presentations and dissertation) as well as more innovative forms of assessment, (the creation of vlogs, podcasts, video and audio projects, interviews, portfolios and poster presentations). 

Individual feedback is provided on all assessed work to help you improve performance for future assessments, and you’ll have opportunities to discuss this feedback with your tutors. In addition, you’ll do various practice exercises such as quizzes. presentations and essay or project plans.  You’ll receive formative feedback from tutors, in order to improve your learning and understanding before you complete your summative assessments.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of your Programme, you’ll be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1 Speak, write, and understand one or 2 modern foreign languages to degree standard.  

KU2 Understand the structures, registers and varieties of the languages you are learning  and use them flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes, as appropriate.

KU 3 Critically analyse aspects of the cultures, histories and societies of the countries in which your languages are spoken by drawing on a range of materials and approaches. 

KU4 Demonstrate an in-depth, critical knowledge, awareness and understanding of the similarities and dissimilarities of cultures and societies other than your own.

KU 5 Apply an in-depth intercultural understanding including specific knowledge of other cultures, to navigate and mediate between more than one culture.

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1 Communicate clearly, concisely and effectively to diverse audiences, in writing and speech, in English and one or 2 modern foreign languages.

IS 2 Adopt a range of strategies to initiate and undertake analysis of information.

IS 3 Formulate conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of views and arguments, justifying these with sound reasoning and detailed interpretations of source material.

IS 4 Critically evaluate ideas and arguments, through the coherent presentation of information and ideas using a plethora of written and oral skills. 

IS 5 Draw on relevant and effective research techniques to plan and write or deliver academic texts (essays, presentations, audio-visual texts) using evidence and the correct referencing conventions.

Professional Practical Skills:

PS 1 Use digital media effectively as a source of information, a means of communication and as an aid to learning. 

PS 2 Apply enhanced linguistic skills in a professional setting. 

PS 3 Identify and describe problems and work collaboratively towards their resolution.

PS 4 Demonstrate resilience, adaptability and independence through time spent in immersive modern language contexts.

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1 Employ critical thinking and reasoning to analyse and evaluate diverse and complex texts and ideas. 

KS 2 Apply practical research skills. 

KS 3 Generate original ideas and apply creative, imaginative and innovative thinking in response to identified needs and problems   

KS 4 Learn from constructive feedback and incorporate its insights.

KS 5 Be resourceful and take responsibility for your own guided and independent learning and professional development.

KS 6 Utilise a range of employability and enterprise skills, such as creativity, initiative, organisation, time management, independent and team working.

KS 7 Act as a global citizen, engaging with and valuing cultural difference through practical experience of other countries.  


Career prospects

We’re committed to helping you achieve your professional ambitions, providing you with the skills, curiosity, and confidence to make your mark in a competitive job market. Whether you have a clear idea of what you would like to do after university, or no idea at all, we have the tools and support to guide you.

Work experience and placements are great opportunities to enhance your employability and career prospects and can help you make decisions about your future career plans. The BA Modern Languages programme includes placement learning as an integral element of your degree programme.

Each term we advertise On-Campus Internships which are summer vacation opportunities for students to work under supervision on education innovation, professional services, and staff-defined research projects.

Our graduates flourish in the job market. 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.

Many graduates enjoy their year overseas so much that they take time out for more travel or go abroad on graduation in search of employment.

Of those who choose to remain in the UK, many pursue postgraduate study while others start work immediately. Our graduates go on to secure excellent careers in international diplomacy, the Civil Service, teaching, business and journalism. Other employment options include roles as translators, language assistants, export assistants and proof-readers.

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.