Modern and Medieval Languages
This degree is wide ranging in scope and practical in application, opening up countless career opportunities. It combines state-of-the-art audio and video technology with more traditional media, and links the art and science of language.
|UCAS code||R800 BA/MML
|Colleges||Available at all Colleges
|2013 entry||Applications per place: 2
Number accepted: 168
|Open days and events 2015||Department open day booking required, see the Faculty website
College open days (arts)
Cambridge Open Days
|Contact details||01223 335000
You can study two of:
Alternatively, you can combine any of these with either Classical Latin (if you're taking it at A Level/IB Higher Level) or Classical Greek.
If you wish to combine one of these modern European languages with Arabic, Hebrew or Persian, you can do so by applying for the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies degree course.
Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) at Cambridge
The course allows you to mix and match from an exciting menu of options. By the time you graduate you'll have developed language skills, enhanced knowledge according to your particular interests, spent time in a foreign culture and executed a piece of independent research.
All our students study two languages, one of which can be learnt from scratch (with the exceptions of French or Latin, where A Level/IB Higher Level standard is required). No matter what your entry level, you’ll leave at the end of four years having gained spoken, written and translation skills of an advanced level.
In addition, you have the chance tostudy in depth the culture, history, cinema, literature, art, politics and philosophy of other countries, depending on which languages you choose. The course also includes options in linguistics (both linguistic aspects of the languages you're studying, and dealing with the nature of language in general).
Facilities and resources
Our excellent resources include the well-stocked Faculty library and the University's state-of-the art Language Centre; with satellite television, audio, video and other equipment. In addition, the Faculty's Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Facility is used for both private study and teaching programmes.
A year in...
You spend your third year abroad in one of three ways, tailored to suit your interests. You can attend a foreign university, become an English-speaking assistant in a school, or seek voluntary or paid work. For example, our students have spent their third year:
- working at a law firm in Zurich
- studying art history in Rome
- volunteering with the International Baby Food Action Network in Brazil
- conducting an orchestra in St Petersburg
With the agreement of the Faculty, you can tailor your year to suit your interests. You must spend at least eight months abroad, and you must be in daily contact with the foreign language you're studying. You could choose to spend the year in more than one country, spending at least three months in each.
Communication skills, knowledge of languages, an understanding of foreign cultures, analytical ability and research skills are in great demand in many fields, and are precisely the qualities that our course promotes. Employers – even those who aren't primarily interested in languages – particularly value the experience and skills our graduates have gained from their year abroad.
Most graduates use their languages within their work, and many pursue careers in journalism, the arts, marketing, banking, law, accountancy, teaching and the Diplomatic Service. Other graduates build more generally on the many skills that their degree has given them, which are still decisive factors in securing a wide range of jobs. For a small number of graduates, the degree is more directly vocational: they become professional linguists (translators or interpreters), usually after further specialised training.
Want to study more than two languages?
In your second and fourth years, you can choose to take an introduction to language and literature course for a language you haven't studied before. There is a range of languages to choose from, including both modern language and medieval language options.
Another possibility (open to any member of the University) is to take a one-year course at the University's Language Centre to obtain a further language qualification. Courses are available in basic Arabic and Mandarin: and in basic, intermediate and advanced French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Diploma and certificate courses may be available through the Faculty. See the Faculty websiteor contact the Faculty Office for more information.
Teaching is made up of lectures, seminars, language classes (generally in the target language), intensive oral work in small groups, and supervisions.
For your supervisions, you prepare written work which you then discuss to explore the subject further. In your first year, you can generally expect around 12-14 hours of teaching each week.
You're assessed at the end of each year, primarily through written and oral examinations, and the submission of a project or dissertation at the end of Year 3. You may also offer a second dissertation instead of one of the Part II written examination papers.
Developing your language skills
You study two languages, at least one at post-A Level/IB Higher Level standard, with the options you take partly determined by your knowledge of your chosen languages on entry. You should indicate which languages you're interested in studying in your SAQ. The choice isn't final, many students change their mind before (or after) they start.
The main emphasis is on developing your language skills, taught by a range of methods including Faculty classes of up to 15 students and supervisions in groups of two or three. You also have an introduction to one or more of the following topics for your languages:
Acquiring native or near-native fluency
In your second year, you take five papers in total. You continue intensive language study with the aim of acquiring native or near-native fluency in both languages and choose from a wide range of papers covering topics such as:
- an introduction to a language and culture you haven't studied before
You have the option to replace one exam with coursework in the second year.
In the third year, you spend at least eight months abroad, during which time you prepare a project that counts as one sixth of your final mark. This can be a dissertation, a translation project, or a linguistics project.
Just before the fourth year starts, you take an oral examination back in Cambridge
You take six papers and are free to specialise in one language, to combine options from two or more languages, to take comparative options, and/or to take up to two options from certain other courses (eg English, History). You tackle advanced language work (in one or two languages), and focus on three options chosen from a wide range (culture, literature, linguistics, thought, history, film, and so on).
You also have a choice of comparative paper options, enabling you to combine the study of both of your languages. Examples include papers on European film and studying attitudes towards the human body. Other comparative options involve the linguistics and philology of the Germanic, Romance and Slavonic language families. Many students replace one of their written papers with a further dissertation (currently 8,000-10,000 words).
Typical offers require
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.
Essential A Level/IB Higher Level in at least one of the languages to be studied
Whilst it is always helpful to be able to demonstrate linguistic aptitude, many combinations of A Level subjects provide a strong basis for linguists. It is also helpful to be able to demonstrate critical engagement with the literature and culture of the societies where the languages to be studied are spoken. This may emerge from curricular studies in history, media, literature or society of the country; or it may come from extra-curricular study.
Check College websites for College specific requirements. See also Entrance requirements and our Subject Matters leaflet for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.
The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.
|College||Assessment of applicant for this subject|
|Christ's||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Churchill||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Clare||Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Corpus Christi||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Downing||School/college essay; Test at interview|
|Emmanuel||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Fitzwilliam||Test at interview; Preparatory study at Interview|
|Girton||School/college essays; Written test at interview; Preparatory reading at interview|
|Gonville & Caius||School/college essays|
|Homerton||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Hughes Hall||Written and oral test at interview|
|Jesus||Preparatory study at interview; Test at interview|
|King's||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Lucy Cavendish||School/college essays; Test at interview|
|Magdalene||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Murray Edwards||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Newnham||School/college essays; Preparatory reading at interview; Test at interview|
|Pembroke||School/college essays; Written test at interview; Preparatory reading at interview|
|Peterhouse||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory reading at interview|
|Queens'||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Robinson||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|St Catharine's||School/college essay; Test at interview; Prepartatory reading at interview|
|St Edmund's||Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|St John's||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Selwyn||School/college essay; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Sidney Sussex||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Trinity||School/college essay; Preparatory study at interview; Test at interview|
|Trinity Hall||School/college essays; Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview|
|Wolfson||Test at interview; Preparatory study at interview (depending on subject)|
Find out more about Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge
- Course website - Explore MML in more detail on the course website.
- Course guide - A pdf prospectus for MML at Cambridge. Included in the prospectus is information on the different languages and other options available in the MML course, information about the styles of teaching used in the course, the transferable skills you can develop during the course, and the careers opportunities available to you after studying MML at Cambridge.
Improve your knowledge of Modern and Medieval Languages
- Sampling MML - Advice on ways to try out MML before coming to Cambridge, and decide whether it's the right course for you.
- Multikultura - The MML Faculty's site for GCSE and sixth-form students of French, German and Spanish. Loads of exercises to improve your language skills and your cultural knowledge!
Tools to help you with your Modern and Medieval Languages application
- Application information - A detailed guide to applying to study MML at Cambridge, including FAQ.
- Application test info - Information about the MML written test (taken at the time of interview) and a specimen question.
- Interview guide - What interviewers are looking for in MML candidates.
Check out the specific resources for each of the MML language options:
- French papers - Information on the French papers available in the MML degree.
- Preparing to study French - A useful summary of what you need to know to be able to study French at Cambridge, including suggested reading.
- Grammar requirements - Information on the French grammar you'll need to know if you want to study French at Cambridge.
- Facilities - Information about the facilities available to students of French
- French resources online - A helpful list of online resources that may be of interest to potential students of French.
- Portuguese papers - Information on the Portuguese papers available in the MML degree.
- Portuguese resources online - A helpful list of online resources that may be of interest to potential students of Portuguese.
- Ab initio Portuguese advice - Some useful information for those planning to study Portuguese from scratch.
- Russian papers - Information on the Russian (and Ukrainian) papers available in the MML degree.
- Facilities - Information about the facilities available to students of Russian.
- Russian resources online - A helpful list of online resources that may be of interest to potential students of Russian.
- Ukrainian resources online - A helpful list of online resources that may be of interest to potential students of Ukrainian.
- Prizes and funds - Information about prizes and other funding opportunities available to students of Russian at Cambridge
- Course Guide - Introductory guide to the Russian course, including detailed list of preparatory (page 4.
- Spanish papers - Information on the Spanish papers available in the MML degree.
- Spanish resources online - A helpful list of online resources that may be of interest to potential students of Spanish.
- Ab initio Spanish advice - Some useful information for those planning to study Spanish from scratch.
From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.
However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.
We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.
You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.
- The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.
Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.
- Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.
- The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.
- Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.
- Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.
The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.