Modern Languages (and Joint Schools)


St Edmund Hall has a vibrant and diverse community of Modern Linguists, from a wide range of backgrounds both within the UK and around the world, and we are able to offer an impressive range of degree programmes.

We are one of largest colleges for Modern Languages accepting 9 to 10 Modern Language students a year including students studying Joint Schools (Modern Languages with English, History, Linguistics or Philosophy). We are also consistently one of the most successful colleges, with an average of roughly 40% of our undergraduates achieving Firsts since 2014.

Modern Languages is a long-established field of study at Teddy Hall and one of the largest subjects at the College: at present there are over 800 Aularians (alumni) who have read Modern Languages at the Hall and lived to tell the tale!

One of the best things about Teddy Hall is the supportive atmosphere. Even from Freshers’ Week, you realise there are so many people – both students and staff – that you could turn to if you had a problem.

Esme, French and Spanish

Read our student profiles

Teddy Hall has a strong team of language lecturers and teachers, comprising more than 15 academics and including Tutorial Fellows in French and Russian. As a result of this, nearly all of the undergraduate teaching takes place in College.

We currently offer Modern Languages in a number of different combinations:

The Teddy Hall tutors were so approachable and spoke more enthusiastically than at the other colleges I’d seen.

Charlie, French and Beginners’ Russian

Read our student profiles

The linguists’ year abroad is usually the third year, except for Beginners’ Russian where it is in your second year. Teddy Hall offers plenty of support, and one of your tutors will maintain regular contact with you. You will also be expected to continue to do some studying while overseas!

Oxford has links with universities across Europe, and Teddy Hall students have also built up good connections over the years. Our students pass on their experience and advice to those who follow them, and are a good source of contacts for accommodation and employment opportunities. Your tutors will help guide you in organising your year abroad and students usually decide on one of three options: to study at a foreign university, work or teach (mostly on the British Council Language Assistant scheme). You can do two of these three things if you wish, as well as spending time in two countries if you are studying more than one language.

On my year abroad I spent four months in Frankfurt in Germany, working for Deutsche Bank as a translator, and then went to Moscow for five months where I studied voice and music history at the Moscow Conservatoire.

Lisa, German and Russian

Read our student profiles

Teddy Hall offers a number of travel awards every year:

  • Richard Fargher Bursary – for travel abroad to pursue linguistic study. The annual award, worth up to £5000, is given to the undergraduate or undergraduates who present the most imaginative and best-planned proposal.
  • Cochrane Scholarship – an award of £1000 for foreign travel, available to undergraduates reading for Arts subjects.
  • Michael Pike Award – a £500 award given to a student who proposes to engage in some outdoor activity for which a spirit of enterprise and physical endeavour are required.
  • Graham Hamilton Travel Award – two prizes of £1000 each for students who need financial assistance to undertake a holiday in the UK or abroad which calls for some measure of initiative, enterprise or endurance.
  • Matt Greenwood Travel Scholarships – a prize of up to £1000 per year for travel in the UK or anywhere in the world for good purposes.

More details of College scholarships and prizes for undergraduates

Creative writing and the arts are special strengths at Teddy Hall, and our students enjoy a great number of extra-curricular opportunities:

  • The popular, student-run Wednesday Workshops for creative writing, which provide an opportunity to share your work and receive constructive feedback from peers.
  • The St Edmund Hall Gallery, an annual collection of creative writing and visual art by members of the College (organised and published by current students).
  • The ‘Meet the Poet’ reading series, which brings a well known poet to the College every term to read and meet with students.
  • The Hall Writers’ Forum, which provides an online community for current students, academics and alumni and encourages new writing and cross-disciplinary discussion.
  • St Edmund Hall’s Centre for the Creative Brain organises free termly events with guest speakers and aims to promote interdisciplinary discussion of how insights from neuroscience can influence our thinking about creativity, for instance with relation to literature, art and music.

Many of our alumni have gone on to careers in writing, in many different forms – find out more about them by browsing the Hall Writers’ Directory.

The College also has numerous awards for writing and the creative arts, including several prizes for journalism, poetry and theatre.

Modern Languages students from Teddy Hall pursue a wide range of careers, including academia, architecture, law and diplomacy.

Jaya Mishra (2009, French and Russian) studied for a Masters in Interpreting and Translation at Bath University after graduating from Oxford. She then moved to Geneva to work as a translator for the United Nations:

“My studies at Oxford gave me a solid knowledge and understanding of French and Russian language and culture which is fundamental for my current job. Studying at Oxford also helped me to manage stress better, which is an important skill for a conference interpreter!”

  • Typical offer: AAA at A-Level / 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL in IB
  • Other Application Requirements before your interview:
    • MLAT – sat the November after submitting your application
    • Samples of written work – see the Faculty’s how to apply page for more details

Places Available: 9

Candidates for courses involving Modern Languages will have at least one general interview and one or two language-specific interviews (depending on the particular course). The general interview will be based on a discussion of a short passage of literature writing in English, which you will have the chance to read and study privately in advance. You may also be asked about your submitted written work and/or statements you have made on your UCAS form in the course of this general interview. The language-specific interview will spend some time discussing a passage (often a short poem), which you will have been given to read in advance, and which will be written in the language you wish to study. As well as discussing this passage, we may pursue some of the topics raised in your UCAS form about your interests and motivation.

Here are some tips from Teddy Hall Modern Languages students:

“With regard to Beginners’ Russian, read some literature in translation or watch some plays and then, most importantly, form some opinions on these – it doesn’t matter if at this stage they are not highly sophisticated.” – Charlie, French and Beginners’ Russian

“Make sure you’re confident with closely-analysing literature (especially poems and short extracts) but don’t worry if you don’t think you’re fluent or amazing at speaking in the language. You would never have a full interview entirely in the spoken language, and tutors know that this is something you are going to build up gradually over the four years.” – Esme, French and Spanish

“Try to read at least a couple of books originally written in the target language (English translations are okay!), brush up on areas of grammar you find difficult, and listen to the language as much as you can (YouTube works if you can’t travel). Finally, don’t worry about being perfect! Nobody is, not even at Oxford.” – Eleanor, German and Beginner’s Russian

Related Courses

English and Modern Languages

Undergraduate course page

View Subject

History and Modern Languages

Undergraduate course page

View Subject

Philosophy and Modern Languages

Undergraduate course page

View Subject

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL)

Undergraduate course page

View Subject