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Modern Languages and Philosophy

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  1. Royal Holloway's institution code: R72
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    • Modern Languages and Philosophy BA - RV95
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Modern Languages and Philosophy

BA

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

UCAS code: RV95

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

The course

Modern Languages and Philosophy (BA)

This Joint Honours course will give you the opportunity to start to make sense of the world around you, and gain fluency in the language of your choice - French, German, Italian or Spanish.

Whether you start at beginners’, advanced or native-speaker level, you will study the core language components for the language you have chosen, gaining skills in writing, reading, speaking and listening. All our language teaching is led by native speakers.

The remainder of your modern languages study will give you an opportunity to explore the literature, art, culture and history of the language area you are studying, from seventeenth-century French theatre to representations of childhood and youth in German culture, and from Italian fashion and design to visual arts from across the Spanish-speaking world. As a modern linguist, you will develop excellent communication and research skills, and combine lingusitic proficiency with cross-cultural perspectives.

In your third year you will have the opportunity to spend a year working, teaching or studying abroad, where you will immerse yourself in another language and culture, truly broadening your horizons in the process.

  • On graduation you will have language and analytical skills in a modern language together with additional knowledge of culture, society and history, culture and society that will give you a valuable competitive edge in an increasingly globalised world.
  • Our research staff are engaged in research at the highest level internationally; we are in the top 10 of UK Modern Language departments for research quality and the top in London (Research Assessment Exercise 2014).

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.

  • Full time employment or further study achieved by 90% of both Modern Languages and Philosophy graduates within six months of graduation (Unistats 2015).

 

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • This module introduces you to the practice of critical analysis, with an emphasis on developing your skills of critical interpretation and analysis. It will be taught through a combination of lecture-style overviews of specific technical issues, and close engagement with short extracts from a range of examples taken from literature, film and visual arts. This material will be taken from a range of cultural and historical contexts, from the four language areas in which LLC specialises. This material will be provided in advance of each session for you to prepare beforehand; all passages will be given in English translation alongside the original. Alongside the short extracts, you will be expected to read some general introductory works on the specifics of analysing literature, film, and visual images.

  • Recognising that knowledge of the target language is vital to success in professional translation, this module introduces you to the terminology and techniques of inter-lingual translation. It will provide an introduction to the roles and challenges of the professional translator across different translation scenarios and develop skills to respond to challenges identified in a number of text types (such as literature, journals, reports, manuals, marketing materials, business correspondence and web content).

  • The ‘new philosophy’ of the seventeenth century set the modern philosophical agenda by asking fundamental questions concerning knowledge and understanding and the relation between science and other human endeavours, which subsequently became central to the European Enlightenment. This module aims to familiarise you with the origins of empiricist and rationalist/idealist thought, focussing on the work of Descartes and Locke. The module will enable you to develop your close reading skills, and will give you the opportunity to see how arguments are developed across the length of philosophical texts.

  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

All languages we teach have a beginners', post-A Level, and native speaker level pathway, allowing you to study one ab initio (from scratch). If you speak your chosen language as a native speaker then you will take:

  • Introduction to Translation in a Socio-Cultural Context

If you choose to study French then you will take one from the following:

  • The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in French. Classes use French as much as possible and the module is assessed in French. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material.

     

  • The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in French. Classes use French as much as possible and the course is assessed in French. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to French-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken French. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in French to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The course will be taught and assessed in French.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written French. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in French to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills. The course will be taught and assessed in French.

  • This module develops your command of both French-English translation and critical analysis of French-language material by exposing you to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles. In weekly seminars, you will focus closely on the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of French-language text types.

If you choose to study German then you will take one from the following:

  • The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in German. Classes use German as much as possible and the module is assessed in German. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to German-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in German. Classes use German as much as possible and the module is assessed in German. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in German-speaking countries, an introduction to German-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written German. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in German to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills. The module will be taught and assessed in German.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken German. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in German to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The module will be taught and assessed in German.

  • The module develops students' command of both German-English translation and critical analysis of  German-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles. In weekly seminars, students will focus closely on the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of German-language text types.

If you choose to study Italian then you will take one from the following:

  • The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in Italian. Classes use Italian as much as possible and the module is assessed in Italian. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to Italian-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in Italian. Classes use Italian as much as possible and the module is assessed in Italian. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in Italian-speaking countries, an introduction to Italian-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written Italian. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Italian to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills. The module will be taught and assessed in Italian.

     

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken Italian. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Italian to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The module will be taught and assessed in Italian.

  • The module develops students' command of both Italian-English translation and critical analysis of  Italian-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.

If you choose to study Spanish then you will take one from the following:

  • The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in Spanish. Classes use Spanish as much as possible and the module is assessed in Spanish. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to Spanish-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in Spanish. Classes use Spanish as much as possible and the module is assessed in Spanish. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in Spanish-speaking countries, an introduction to Spanish-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written Spanish. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Spanish to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills.  The module will be taught and assessed in Spanish.

     

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken Spanish. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Spanish to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The module will be taught and assessed in Spanish.

  • The module develops students' command of both Spanish-English translation and critical analysis of Spanish-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.

Year 2
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

If you speak your chosen langauge at native speaker level you will take:

  • This module draws on theories of both communication and translation, outlining key trends and tendencies within these fields. It explores the question of intercultural communication and its political, economic, and social implications. The aim throughout is to consider how meanings are carried between and affect different cultural contexts, undergoing shifts in the process, and broader questions of language and representation in a globalised world.

If you choose to study French then you will take one or two of the following modules, depending on your proficiency:

  • In this module you will further develop your ability to communicate effectively in French, in writing or orally, with good grammatical and lexical accuracy. You will look at texts from a variety of sources and examine authentic recordings from a range of subjects. Much of the content is delivered in French, with the exception of grammar classes, which are taught in English.

  • In written French, the module builds on techniques acquired in first-year language modules through a particular focus on techniques of analysis, writing and rewriting, in particular on learning to construct arguments and exposés in authentic, accurate and appropriate French. Themes studied help as preparation for the year abroad (themes may vary, examples include : Le travail en France, être jeune en France, la contestation sociale).

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of translation from French to English through sustained translation practice. You will look at the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific problems generated when translating from French source text to English target text in a range of translation scenarios and across a range of text types. You will consider common translation challenges, such as conversion, transfer, compensation, gloss, exoticism, deceptive cognates, lexical gaps and cultural specificities, as well as examining the constraints of character count and house style.

If you choose to study German then you will take one or two of the following modules, depending on your proficiency:

  • This module is designed to follow on from and to build on the knowledge and skills established in the first year. It will establish, through intensive practice and through the use of a range of learning materials, more advanced comprehension skills in written and spoken German. The emphasis throughout will be on everyday language and day-to-day situations.

  • In this module you’ll maintain and develop a broad intermediate vocabulary in German; revise the basics of German grammar and syntax and learn more complex language structures; be able to understand natural, idiomatic as well as formal spoken German as delivered by a native speaker, present information in written and spoken German; and discuss topical issues critically in written and spoken German.

  • The module enhances understanding of and skills in translation from German to English through sustained translation practice as well as through commentary on and discussion of translations. In weekly seminars, students will discuss the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific problems generated in the module of translating from German source text to English target text in a range of translation scenarios and a range of text types.

If you choose to study Italian then you will take one or two of the following modules, depending on your proficiency:

  • This module includes a written and oral component, with five weekly seminars in Italian using a communicative approach. The written part emphasises reading comprehension and essay writing, involving analysis of Italian articles and podcasts on contemporary social, cultural, and political issues. Students will paraphrase and learn relevant vocabulary. They'll also strengthen their grasp of Italian through grammar and vocabulary exercises. The oral component involves structuring presentations and participating in informal debates to practice expressing opinions in Italian. The fortnightly grammar lecture covers specific topics for understanding complex sentence structures in context.

  • This module is conducted in Italian, adopting a communicative approach. In the Written component, you’ll focus on reading comprehension and essay writing, and in the oral component, you’ll have the opportunity to structure oral presentations as well as take part in informal discussions in order to learn to express your opinions in Italian.

  • Advanced Italian Translation: Skills and Practice

If you choose to study Spanish then you will take one or two of the following modules, depending on your proficiency:

  • In this module you’ll learn to demonstrate good lexical and grammatical competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Spanish. You’ll learn to understand and communicate effectively in Spanish across a complete range of tenses and will participate competently in conversation with a native speaker.

  • This module offers four hours of weekly contact time each term and an additional hour for oral practice. The first two hours focus on reading, writing, and oral skills, combining in-class exercises with homework review based on a journalistic text. The third hour is dedicated to listening comprehension, occasionally held in language labs. The final hour features a grammar lecture introducing new verb tenses and structures, which are then practised in the following week. Weekly lesson content, tutor-prepared material, and audio-visual resources like podcasts, TV, and radio programs are provided. Classes incorporate a flexible approach, ranging from formal exposition to communicative activities in pairs and small groups. Spanish is used predominantly in the classroom, and multimedia resources are encouraged for independent study. Regular homework assignments are assigned.

  • Advanced Spanish Translation: Skills and Practice
Year 3
  • You will spend the third year of your degree programme abroad, either studying, working, or both, based on your own learning preferences as well as your professional goals and interests. It is usually expected that you will spend at least nine months in a country where the native language is the same as the language you are studying. The Year Abroad allows you to expand and refine your existing linguistic competencies in the relevant target language alongside the development of intercultural competency and employability skills. The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will support you in finding a suitable study or work placement, or you may explore opportunities independently. This year forms an integral part of your degree programme and will be formally assessed.

Year 4

If you choose to study French you will take:

  • In this module you will enhance your ability to analyse and compare written material from different sources. You will develop competence in accurate and discursive French, and extend your oral presentation skills, with particular emphasis on the formal spoken register. You will look at extracts from French documentaries and feature films, and listen to recordings and podcasts, such as the France Inter and France Culture programmes. You will also look at a range of cultural questions and examine the key features of French culture and society.

If you choose to study German you will take:

  • In this module you’ll learn to understand natural, idiomatic spoken German as delivered by a native speaker or on radio/TV designed for native speakers. You’ll learn to discuss German current affairs using a wide range of appropriate vocabulary and read and get to understand complex passages of authentic, elevated German, including literary, academic, journalistic and other types of texts and will finally be able to produce written translations in fluent, accurate and idiomatic English and German.

If you choose to study Italian you will take:

  • In this module there is a close correlation between the material selected for use in the written and oral classes. In the written class you’ll be asked to structure cohesive and informed written commentaries on set Italian texts as well as practise reading comprehension and paraphrasing skills. You will be asked to prepare and deliver short oral presentations as well as debate issues related to Italian current affairs, and in grammar lectures, you’ll revise complex features and refine their use in context and complete a series of grammar exercises specifically devised for final year students.

If you choose to study Spanish you will take:

  • This module is taught entirely in Spanish and provides a variety of formal grammar lectures, written and oral classes. You’ll demonstrate lexical and grammatical competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Spanish and will learn to understand and communicate fluently in Spanish across a complete range of tenses. You’ll participate in conversation with a native speaker and will learn awareness of key cultural aspects of the Hispanic world.

Optional Modules

For more information on optional modules available as part of the Modern Languages part of your course, please see the list here.

The course has a modular structure. You will take 120 credits’ worth of modules each year in years 1, 2 and 4, and 60 during your year abroad. Some modules are compulsory while others are optional, thereby offering you flexibility and choice. Your first year results don't count towards your final degree award, but those achieved in your second, third and fourth years will.

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Outside classes, you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging, but guided independent study, including completing language exercises and reading prescribed and open material. Private study is essential, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor to support your academic and personal development.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examinations. Coursework includes essays, language exercises, translations and reports. Oral presentations and computer-based tests are used in some Modern Languages modules to assess grammar and comprehension skills. You can, to some extent, choose modules which suit your own assessment preferences.

You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This module does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

A Levels: ABB-BBB

Required subjects:

  • A-level in the appropriate language(s) at grade B for the advanced level language pathway
  • There is no language requirement for the beginners' language pathway, but only one language can be studied at this level
  • At least five GCSES at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Please note that if you choose to apply for this course you will need to provide details of which languages you wish to study on your UCAS application form. For further details on how to do this please visit our How to apply page.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.

T-levels

We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Choosing a joint honours degree which combines Modern Languages and Philosophy gives you the best of both worlds through an increased skillset and access to a wide variety of employment opportunities.

As a modern linguist you will have excellent communication, analytical and research skills combined with the proven ability to communicate fluently, alongside practical skills such as translation and interpretation. You will have developed the kind of sensitivity to different cultures that is highly prized in the workplace. This experience and the skills gained will make you highly employable and ready to pursue a career in international business, finance, media and communications, the arts, law translation, travel, consultancy and teaching, both in Britain and abroad.

Graduates have entered a wide range of careers including many language-related fields, such as international management, consultancy, media and publishing, banking, the arts, politics, the Civil Service, sales and marketing, teaching, travel and tourism, translating and interpreting. Other graduates have gone on to advanced study in a variety of fields.

Studing philosophy at Royal Holloway not only prepares you well for postgraduate study, it also equips you with the skills and qualities that employers are looking for. Philosophy degrees are well-regarded by employers because they give you the capacity to think through issues and problems in a logical and consistent way and to develop critical and transferable skills which can be applied in almost any area of employment from computing to the arts.   

So, by choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline you will develop a broad range of highly prized transferable skills, such as:

  • the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently
  • the ability to critically digest, analyse and summarise complex ideas
  • time management and the discipline to meet deadlines
  • organisation and research skills
  • problem-solving skills and capability

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

The fee for your year abroad will be 15% of the tuition fee for that academic year if you study or complete work-based placement as part of the Erasmus exchange programme, or study at a university outside of Europe. The fee will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year if you complete a work-based placement in a non-European country.

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,800

The fee for your year abroad will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year.

Other essential costs***: The cost of your year abroad will vary by country. Typical living costs to consider will be accommodation, food and household items, entertainment, travel, books and bills (including your mobile phone). You'll also need to budget for travel to and from your country of study. Additional costs compared to studying in the UK will also depend on personal choices and it is important to research the cost of living before the year commences.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, the fee is £9,250 for that year.

**This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2024 but will advertised here once confirmed.  For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Undergraduate Admissions

 

 

 

Professor Joseph Harris - joseph.harris@royalholloway.ac.uk

Top 10

in the UK for research quality in French, German, Italian and Hispanic studies

Source: Complete University Guide, 2024

5th

in the UK for overall research

Source: THE REF; 2021, Subject Ranking by Grade Point Average

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