This area covers degrees in individual modern languages (often including the history, literature, culture, and politics), translation and interpreting, and linguistics (the science behind language and communication).

Modern Languages: Sophie, James and Harriet’s story

Graduate destinations

95,965 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

67% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. Education
  2. Wholesale and retail trade
  3. Professional, scientific, and technical
  4. IT
  5. Accommodation and food service

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options as well as courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • mainly BA (Hons) qualifications, with a few BSc (Hons) degrees

Many universities offer four year programmes and the opportunity to study abroad for a year as part of the degree.

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three. 

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a languages related degree, you will usually require at least two A levels. Entry requirements range from BBB to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB. If applying for English or a modern foreign language such as French, Spanish or German you will normally require an A level in the target subject, with some universities specifying a minimum of grade B. For other language degrees you will need a least one A level in a foreign language to demonstrate your capability to take on a new language. History or English A level are required by some universities offering American Studies.

In addition to the different A level requirements above you will also need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English, and maths.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from ABBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for ABB.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications  may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges


If applying for a modern foreign language, you may be asked to demonstrate your fluency by completing a written test in the target language.

Universities are looking for:

  • evidence that you are well informed about the language/culture and have strong interest/motivation, which could be demonstrated by:
    • relevant work experience and or travel in countries where your target language is spoken e.g. participation in an exchange program
    • additional reading and research i.e. looking at newspapers/ books, listening to the radio, watching films from different countries
    • membership of language societies/clubs
  • a range of interests outside of academic study
  • a well written statement that demonstrates your ability to write persuasive statements
  • the ability to work individually and in teams
  • the personal qualities required for successful study

How to write your personal statement


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)

Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)

Key areas of employment

In a ‘global economy’, the ability to speak more than one language and knowledge of different cultures can be very useful in many different job sectors.

The key areas of employment include:

  • civil service
  • education
  • hospitality and tourism
  • IT and telecommunications
  • law
  • marketing and publishing
  • media and journalism
  • recruitment and human resources
  • retail sales and customer service
  • transport and logistics​

Related careers

Examples of related careers where languages may be directly related or useful, include the following job titles:

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in languages.

Start your search now

Get your UCAS Hub

Your place to discover your options and research your future.

Sign up today