History and Modern Languages

History and Modern Languages at Balliol College

History and Modern Languages is a thriving undergraduate degree at Balliol, which builds on the many interconnections between the two subjects. The structure of the joint degree offers ample opportunity to combine the two sides of the course. A ‘bridge essay’, written during the year spent abroad, forms part of the course; and many students taking the course choose specialist options from the History syllabus which draw on their knowledge of the literature and language they are studying. It is also commonly the case that the Joint School students write an undergraduate thesis in History which is based on sources in the language they are studying as part of their joint degree.

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: 1 or 2, but there is no maximum quota.


Professor Martin Conway
Professor of Contemporary European History, MacLellan-Warburg Fellow and Tutor in History
John-Paul Ghobrial
Professor of Modern and Global History, Lucas Fellow and Tutor in History, and Praefectus of Holywell Manor
Helen Gittos
Associate Professor, Colyer-Fergusson Fellow and Tutor in Early Medieval History
Elena Lombardi
Professor of Italian Literature, Paget Toynbee Lecturer in Italian Medieval Studies, Fellow and Tutor in Italian
Sophie Marnette
Professor of Medieval French Studies, Dervorguilla Fellow and Tutor in French
Sandra Paoli
Research Fellow in Romance Linguistics
Simon Skinner
Associate Professor, Keen Fellow and Tutor in History
Fred Smith
Early Career Fellow in Early Modern History
Aaron Clift
Lecturer in History
Maria Czepiel
Lecturer in Spanish
Cecile Deer
Lecturer in French
Balliol crest black and white
Lecturer in French
Ingrid Ivarsen
Departmental Lecturer in Early Medieval History
Steven Lydon
Lecturer in German
Sina Menrad
German Lektorin

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About the course

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

Course requirements and selection criteria

Balliol highly recommends that candidates study History to A-Level or an equivalent level (such as Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB, or another equivalent). See also the University’s entrance requirements.

For information on how applicants are assessed, please see the Faculty of History’s selection criteria and the Faculty of Modern Languages’ selection criteria.

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