Philosophy and Modern Languages

Philosophy and Modern Languages at Balliol College

The study of Philosophy develops analytical rigour and the ability to criticise and reason logically. It allows you to apply these skills to questions ranging from how we acquire knowledge and form moral judgements to the nature of language, art and literature. Since many works of literature are shaped by the dominant philosophical ideas of their epoch, study of philosophy can illuminate that intellectual background.

The work in Modern Languages covers language and literature. In the first year work is on 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 French. A high final standard is expected and, to help students reach it, we offer progressive language teaching throughout the course. Our students spend a year abroad between the second and third years of the course, and we offer help in finding placements either as language assistants or on university courses in their country of choice. The College also has an endowment fund, called the Victor Hugo Fund, in support of the European Modern Languages.

In recent years our graduates have chosen careers in commerce and banking, law, the Civil Service, journalism, the media, development and teaching. In most years one or more students opt for further study, either at home or abroad; of these, several now hold university teaching posts in this country and others are teaching abroad in France, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

Number of places at Balliol: Balliol admits about 6 students a year to read either Modern Languages or a Joint School with Modern Languages (including Philosophy and Modern Languages).


Diana Berruezo-Sánchez
Career Development Fellow in Modern Languages
Adam Caulton (photo: Rob Judges)
Associate Professor, Clarendon University Lecturer, Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy
Alexander Kaiserman (photo: Rob Judges)
Associate Professor, Fairfax Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy
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
Research Fellow in Romance Linguistics
Charlotte Cooper
Lecturer in French
Lecturer in Italian
Cecile Deer
Lecturer in French
Jenny Lemke
German Lektorin
Lecturer in German
Rowland Stout
Lecturer in Philosophy

About the course

Please see the websites of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and the Faculty of Philosophy, as well as the University’s course pages.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Students applying to read Philosophy and Modern Languages at Balliol must choose French as their language. There is no expectation that you will have studied Philosophy before applying. Please see also the University’s entrance requirements.

For information on how applicants are assessed, please see the Modern Languages Faculty website.

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