From 1561 edition of The Vision of Piers Plowman by W. Langland (Balliol Library)
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English and Modern Languages

English and Modern Languages at Balliol College

English and Modern Languages is a thriving subject at Balliol. It offers the opportunity to combine the study of two literatures in depth: working in consultation with their tutors, students choose from a wide range of papers to create a course that addresses their particular interests. Reading for Joint Schools enables students to experience varied perspectives on the world and to think for themselves within an interdisciplinary context. Our students are also exposed to international cultures, including spending one year abroad.

The English part of the course offers students the chance to study literature from all periods of English literary history, from Old English to the present day, as well as papers in the English Language, film, and many other specialisms. There are College prizes for essays and original composition, and an occasional reading party or theatre trip may be organised by tutors.

In Modern Languages (that is, French, Italian, German, Spanish), the work covers language, literature, and linguistics. In the first year, students will study a set selection of texts from a variety of periods. After that, students choose their own papers from a wide set of options ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Students are encouraged to build on their existing skills in speaking, reading, and writing their chosen languages. A high final standard is expected, and to help students reach it, we offer progressive language teaching throughout the course. Note that a majority of our teaching staff in Modern Languages are native speakers in the language they teach. We strongly encourage our students to spend a year abroad between the second and third years of the course, and can offer help in finding placements either as language assistants or on university courses in their country of choice.

Number of places at Balliol: up to 2.


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About the course

Please see the Faculty of English website and Faculty of Modern Languages website, and the University’s course pages.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Please see:

How to apply to read English and Modern Languages at Balliol College