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Degree type

BA

Course length

4 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

RV92

Ready to Apply?

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAA
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 37

Course details

This Joint Honours degree will allow you to further your interest in the study of a modern European language and related cultural topics alongside exploring different periods and themes of history.

In Year 1 you will focus on the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening in your chosen language. In addition, you will explore aspects of the literature, film, art, history and politics of the culture you are studying. You will also study a range of History subjects, including Medieval/Early Modern History and Modern History.

In Year 2 you will continue your language, culture and history studies, building on your skills and allowing you to begin to specialise in areas that interest you. Second-year History modules tend to focus more on particular periods and events, or historical debates and phenomena.

You will have the opportunity to spend Year 3 abroad, either as an English assistant in a school, a student at university, or on a work placement. This is a time of enormous linguistic and personal development, when you should gain fluency in your language and enjoy a unique opportunity to make new friends, appreciate other cultures and learn to work and study in new ways. You can also apply to add a placement year to your degree, increasing the course from four years to five.

In Year 4 you will develop your advanced language skills, and you may be able to take a specialist language module such as translation or interpreting. You will also continue your culture and history studies, with final-year History modules encouraging you to think about how historical knowledge is produced.

You will also choose your own dissertation topic in Year 4, researching and writing about either a historical issue or an aspect of culture or cultural production.

Course structure

Year 1

One core language module:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Reading French Literature
  • Italy and the Arts
  • Introduction to Russian History and Culture
  • Introduction to Hispanic Literature and Culture
  • Connected Histories: Early Modern Europe, c.1450–1750
  • The Atlantic Archipelago, c.1500–c.1750
  • Power in Africa
  • Imagining East Asia in the Modern World
  • The Rise and Fall of American Slavery, 1607–1865.

Year 2

One core language module:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Mediterranean Sexualities: Cultural Stereotypes and Transcultural Exchanges
  • Sex and Identity in Germanic Cultures
  • Catalan (Beginners)
  • The World of Dante
  • Renaissance and Baroque in Image and Word
  • Reading Russian Literature
  • The Book of Hours in Medieval Life and Art
  • The Court: Art and Power in Early Modern Europe
  • The “Vast” Early Modern Americas
  • Modern China’s Transformations
  • The United States and the Cold War

Year 3

The third year is spent abroad as an English assistant in a school, as a student in a university, or in employment of some kind. During the year abroad you complete a Year Abroad assignment with guidance from Durham staff.

Year 4

Your Dissertation in History allows you to pursue your own historical interests, to work independently in some depth, and to develop more advanced techniques of research, analysis and exposition.

Plus one core language module:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Contemporary French Writers: Autobiography and Fiction
  • Rebellion, Feud and Crusade in Medieval Texts
  • Remembering the Holocaust
  • Contemporary Spanish Cinema
  • The Italian Renaissance in Literature and Art
  • Screening the Nation: Russian Cinema and the National Question
  • Interpreting Conflict in Post-Colonial Africa
  • History and Its Audiences
  • Health, Wealth and Happiness: Investigating Standards of Living and Wellbeing in the Past

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

Language modules cultivate speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. For cultural and historical modules, lectures will introduce themes, context and commentary. Seminars then provide an opportunity to develop your critical skills through discussion with other students and staff.

Classroom teaching is only the start – in general, there is an increasing emphasis on independent learning and research, culminating in your dissertation in Year 4. Much of your time will be spent working independently – reading widely, making notes, finding sources and watching/listening to audio-visual materials. Rather than delivering detailed information, the course aims to help you learn how to learn, guiding you towards independence in using resources effectively, thinking critically and formulating persuasive arguments.

The year abroad is a key element in your developmental education, enhancing your language skills and expanding your intercultural competence. During your time abroad you will continue to work independently on your Year Abroad assignment and in preparation for your final-year dissertation.

Assessment

Cultural and historical modules are assessed by essays, commentaries, projects and examinations, while language modules are assessed by a mixture of oral, listening and written examinations. You will also complete a 12,000-word dissertation in your final year.

During your year abroad you will complete a Year Abroad assignment.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAA including at least one language from French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish and History.

Contextual offer – ABB including at least one language from French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish and History.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD including A level requirements as above.

IB Diploma score37 with 666 in higher level subjects. Please see above for required languages.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors.
  • Grade A in French or German at A level, or equivalent, is required to study French or German.
  • Grade A in Russian, Spanish or Italian at A level, or equivalent, is required to study that subject at advanced level.
  • Ancient History is acceptable as one of three A levels but History A level must also be taken.
  • Key skills qualifications are welcomed, but are not taken into account as part of the entry requirements.
  • We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact us using www.durham.ac.uk/study/askus/

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

History

Our aim is to make you better at thinking, speaking, and writing for yourself; and better at critically assessing the words that others speak and write. Thinking analytically, arguing clearly and concisely - these are fundamental skills in many jobs. Our graduates have gone on to find successful careers in a wide variety of fields. They work in teaching at schools and universities, in museums and galleries, in law, finance, banking and accountancy, the Civil Service, the charity sector, media, journalism, and the military and further study.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 87% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 85% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

A degree in Languages and Cultures will provide you with an impressive portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and real-world experiences that is valued by employers worldwide. In particular, the year abroad which, as well as developing language abilities, can also greatly enhance your intercultural, problem-solving and communication skills.

With the UK as a whole producing fewer linguists, proficiency in languages coupled with the intellectual rigour and cultural understanding acquired during your degree will make you highly employable in a wide range of careers both in the UK and internationally. These include occupations such as interpreting, translation and teaching, media and the arts but also working across wider industry in research, administration, human resources, sales and business development, and the financial services.

Modern Languages and Cultures

A degree in Languages and Cultures will provide you with an impressive portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and real-world experiences that is valued by employers worldwide. In particular, the year abroad which, as well as developing language abilities, can also greatly enhance your intercultural, problem-solving and communication skills.

With the UK as a whole producing fewer linguists, proficiency in languages coupled with the intellectual rigour and cultural understanding acquired during your degree will make you highly employable in a wide range of careers both in the UK and internationally. These include occupations such as interpreting, translation and teaching, media and the arts but also working across wider industry in research, administration, human resources, sales and business development, and the financial services.

Visual Arts

The study of Visual Arts and Film will help you build up future-proof skills.

In a world that increasingly demands visual literacy and is rapidly changing through technologies like AI, it is hard to predict what specialised skills will be needed in future.

For this reason, our programme seeks to enable you to be a nimble thinker and writer, moving across disciplines and geographical areas while still being rigorous In your academic work.

You will cultivate new active learning strategies, understand how to work in teams in the more practice-related elements of the course, develop an ability to solve complex problems, and display creativity, originality and initiative in the range of outputs the course demands. All of these are the kinds of skills identified in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report in 2020.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 88% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 87% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,780

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

History

Why study history? Our answer to that is simple: because we are human, and we need to understand ourselves, and one another. History helps us to see other ways of thinking and living – and it offers us alternative perspectives on the present.

The History programme at Durham is designed to give you a sense of the diversity of human experience – geographically and chronologically. We offer an unusually broad range of options that will take you to very different places and times. You can also explore diverse themes and approaches, such as environmental and scientific history, visual cultures, and gender and sexuality. The course will equip you with critical and presentational skills that are valuable in many careers.

Year 1 offers you an induction into advanced historical study, engaging with different periods and approaches to the study of the past.

Year 2 raises new questions about the human past, setting these in specific periods and parts of the world. It develops your understanding of historiography - the history of history-writing – and gives you experience of writing an extended historical argument. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

In Year 3 the focus is on intensive study and independent learning. The special subject guides you through the primary and secondary material on a specific period or phenomenon; the dissertation allows you to choose your own topic, and devise your own question, for an extended piece of writing. The dissertation is an opportunity to focus on a topic that fascinates you – and brings together the skills you have developed through your time at Durham.

Throughout your degree, you will be encouraged to attend an extensive programme of activities, including research seminars and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers.

For more information see our department pages.

Ranking

  • Top 50 in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 5 in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 5 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • Top 5 in The Complete University Guide 2024

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the History Department web pages.

Facilities

The Department of History occupies the heart of Durham World Heritage Site. Our location is within easy reach of all University colleges, lecture halls and libraries.

Our work incorporates everything from manuscripts to photography, printed sources to museum collections. You will work with staff on a rich array of primary sources, which range from medieval manuscripts in the cathedral archive, through the ceramics, prints and textiles held by the Oriental Museum, to the documents of the Sudan Archive, and more. Durham holds historical resources of international significance.

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Spanning languages and society, the arts and cultural history – an in-depth understanding and appreciation of language and culture will give you a greater insight into communities and build deeper connections with people across the world.

In an era of increasing globalisation, a skill set that includes cultural understanding and proficiency in languages will help you view the world through a different lens while equipping you with the skills that global employers are looking for.

Our language-based courses offer the flexibility to specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Japanese and Russian. You can study from beginners’ level or opt for a more advanced route if you already have an A level or equivalent qualification.

All of our language degrees include a year abroad, a valuable experience that will broaden your horizons, boost your skills and give you the confidence to adapt to different environments. You will return to Durham for the final year with a deeper understanding of language and cultures, and be better equipped to make meaningful connections with people around the world.

The BA in Visual Arts and Film includes optional modules in languages and an opportunity to apply for a placement year or a year abroad. Course content is almost global in geographical reach covering art, film, and visual culture from the Western world, the Middle East, Eurasia and East Asia.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023

  • 6th for Italian and 5th for Asian Studies in The Complete University Guide 2024

  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2024

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021).

Facilities

Our highly skilled academics share their expertise in languages, as well as in literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation. Many of our language academics are native speakers, while others have lived experience of the culture and language of the country.

Our location on Elvet Riverside is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the colleges, Students’ Union and the historic centre of Durham. Learning facilities include language laboratories, computer classrooms and a large study area. There are satellite and recording facilities for viewing programmes in all the major taught languages.

The University's fully equipped Centre for Foreign Language Study is housed in the same building, and Languages and Cultures students have access to its facilities.

Apply

Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:

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RV92

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

Visit Us

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  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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