English and Modern Languages
English and Modern Languages (you choose one language to study from the range of options offered by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) is a challenging but highly rewarding degree – around 50% of our students achieve firsts. As well as studying English Literature and Language, you will learn and study the language of a foreign culture and its associated literature. You will also have the opportunity, if you wish, to compare and to find connections between these two cultures through their language and literature.
The joint school in English and Modern Languages offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.
The course also usually includes a year abroad, offering you the opportunity to practise your language skills on an everyday basis, as well as acquiring first-hand experience of the culture you have been studying. The Modern Languages Faculty offers help with finding placements in your chosen country; further details on the schemes available can be found on their website.
The English and Modern Languages degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.
College teaching is the bedrock of the undergraduate experience at Oxford: your tutor will arrange a combination of classes and tutorials so that you benefit from discussing your ideas with your peers as well as in the tutorial situation. University lectures are provided by both Faculties, and supplement and complement the work you will do in your college.
You normally have one tutor for one paper, and this means that the tutor gets to know you and your work well and is able to guide your progress through a paper. A tutorial generally involves you, another student and your tutor for the paper in question. A tutorial gives you the chance to explore, and clarify your ideas about the author or subject. Oxford places considerable emphasis on the production of regular written work, normally in the form of essays. This ensures that you have brought your ideas on a subject to a point where you are able to express them cogently on paper. This kind of training is also excellent preparation for many of the kinds of careers available to you after university.
You will also receive a large number of language classes to help you improve your abilities in your chosen languages.
In your first year you will study equal amounts of English and your chosen modern language. From the modern language side, you will combine learning the language (through comprehension and translation exercises) with literary studies (through critical commentaries and wider essays on a small range of set texts. From the English side, you will take an introduction to literary studies course, and then study one period of literature selected from Old English, Middle English, Victorian or Modern.
In your second and final years, from the modern language side, you will continue with language work and translations in your chosen language, in addition to choosing options from a wide range of period papers, linguistic, and other language topics. From the English side, you will choose three papers from a broad range of options including period papers running from medieval times to the present day, Shakespeare and special topics. You will also offer a dissertation in any area of English Language or Literature, or combining the two aspects of your study.
For further details of all these courses, please see the websites for the single honours English course, and for the Modern Languages Faculty.
You apply through UCAS, as for any other university. The full information is contained in the University's Undergraduate Prospectus. The prospectus also contains information about different colleges; all colleges publish their own prospectuses too, which are either available direct from the college or available on-line.
To become a student at Oxford you need to be accepted by a particular college, though you apply through a central admissions system. If you don't know which college to name as your preference you can make an open application: details of this are also in the undergraduate prospectus. Offers of places are made at each college on the basis of your school or college record, samples of your school work, your ELAT results (see beneath for further details), an interview, and your past or future results in A levels (or whatever other exams you may be taking); more flexible criteria operate for mature students.
Candidates are shortlisted for interview on the basis of their academic record and promise, as detailed in our selection criteria. Interviews take place in December. You may be interviewed in the course of the same visit by other colleges apart from the one of your first choice; this helps to ensure that the best applicants get into Oxford regardless of the strength of the competition at different colleges. We continue to work to refine our selection procedures, and our updated criteria and processes should be consulted on the website before you make an application.
Most students will have an A level in English literature or English Language and Literature. (Candidates offering English Language A level without English Literature are advised to contact their preferred college to discuss their situation before they apply.) Students applying for joint degrees will generally include in their A levels, or equivalent qualifications, the two subjects they wish to study.
All candidates will also take a written test, the ELAT, normally at their own schools/colleges. Further information about the test, including specimen papers, is available from www.elat.org.uk.
The English and Modern Languages degree is not offered at all colleges. You can check which colleges are offering places for this Joint School course in the current Prospectus, on the University’s admissions website, or by contacting individual colleges.
If you possibly can, it really is a good idea to visit Oxford in advance of your application, in order to get a sense of the place and to look round possible colleges to which you might apply. All colleges hold open days during the course of the year. Details of these are generally available on the college's web-page or may be obtained from the Admissions office at each college.
The Faculty of English holds at least one open day a year, normally in September, where applicants can receive information about the joint school. Details may be obtained from the Faculty Office.