What to study at university

There are so many courses on offer when considering university that it’s often hard to know where to begin.

Before applying to university it is a good idea to think of what your future ambitions are. Work experience or being a member of a club are some good ways to help you see what you might enjoy studying at university.

It takes a lot of research and planning to choose a course and, once you have some ideas, make sure you’re choosing a course for the right reasons. Is it a subject you think you’ll enjoy? Does your ideal career require a certain degree? Here are a few ideas…

What am I interested in?

It is really important that you choose a course which you’ll enjoy. Think about subjects you’d be interested in studying and explore the different courses that include them. At university, you don’t have to study languages on their own. If you love algebra and enjoyed A-Level German, you could study Maths and German. Or if you prefer being creative and want to study Spanish, you could take Marketing and Spanish. You can have a look at more combinations on the UCAS course search.

We have produced websites specifically for American Studies and Japanese Studies.

What qualifications do I need?

Studying languages at university is open to everyone, whether you’re a complete beginner, took a language GCSE or have just finished A-Level.

Most courses require you to have a language A-Level (or equivalent qualification) in order to apply. Entry requirements do vary between universities, but you’ll generally need to achieve between A*-C in your A-Level. If you’re studying IB or a BTEC, have a look at how they convert to UCAS points as this can be helpful to get an idea of entry requirements.

Many universities offer an opportunity to study languages from scratch – these courses are often called “Ab-initio” courses. If you’re interested in starting a new language, keep an eye out for these courses! You can also learn less widely taught languages, such as Russian, Arabic, Greek or Swahili.

More information is available on the UCAS website.

What skills or qualities do I need?

Generally, to study languages at university you need to: enjoy speaking foreign languages; have an interest in other cultures and be self-motivated.

Linguists are sought after by employers as they tend to be open-minded, analytical, organised and have great communication skills. Spending time abroad also gives linguists confidence and independence as it shows that they are able to live in another country.

Can I study languages as a joint degree?

Yes! Languages lend themselves well to being studied as part of a joint degree. You can study a language on its own, but you can also combine it with one or two other languages, or with a completely different subject.

If you study one language (as a single honours degree), you’ll have more content modules related to culture, linguistics, literature or history of that language and the countries it’s spoken in.

If you choose to study two languages, you can split them 50/50 (joint honours) or 75/25 (major/minor), depending on the course and the university. You’ll still have content modules, but not as many as a single honours student.

You can also study three languages at university on a Modern Languages (BA) course.

Have a look at prospectuses of universities you’re interested in to see what kinds of combinations you’d be interested in!

Can I learn a new language at uni?

You can pick up a new language with Ab-initio courses. These are fast-paced and cover a lot of content, but they do allow you to reach a high standard by the time that you graduate. Learning a new language is a great challenge that is lots of fun and there are plenty of language learning resources available at university to help you.

Can I do full time/part time?

Most undergraduate courses are full time, although you may be able to find a degree that is part time. Keep an eye out for FT or PT in the course information when you’re searching on UCAS or on different universities’ websites.

Open days

Open days are a great way to get a feel for an area, university campus and course. You can meet current students and staff and find out what the university and course are like.

When you’re having a look around the university, bear some of the following questions in mind:

  • Is there a language resources centre?
  • What are the staff like?
  • Do students seem happy with their time at university?
  • Are there a lot of lectures a week?
  • What is the library like?
  • What kind of non-academic facilities are there? (ie cafes, sports facilities and societies)

What is a languages course like?

While it does vary between universities, most language courses are interesting and varied. As well as language classes, you’ll study content modules about culture, literature, history or linguistics. It’s a good idea to see what types of content modules different universities offer so that you can choose a course that you will find interesting.

To get more of an idea about the subject areas covered in different language degrees, have a look at the student voices section of our website.

The majority of language degrees are four years long as they include a year abroad; generally, this is in the third year of your course. You can find out more information about this in our year abroad section.

How do I apply?

You need to apply to university through the UCAS system. The application process is explained in more detail in the how to apply section.

Disabilities and access

There are lots of facilities designed for disabled students to help with learning a language and studying at university. Universities are welcoming and well-equipped for disabled students or students with learning difficulties. There are sections on UCAS and on university websites about facilities for students with disabilities.