Modern Languages and Politics BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
4 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
ABB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students working in Language Zone

You can study politics at Leeds with one of 10 languages.

On this four-year course, you’ll examine concepts such as colonialism, nationalism, democracy, revolution, gender and globalisation. Optional topics range from political systems that exist across the globe to translation and interpreting, to media and democracy. You’ll also study the society and culture of the countries where your chosen language is spoken.

Your intensive language modules will prepare you for your year abroad, where you’ll further enhance your linguistic skills and enrich your knowledge of how your host country interacts with other countries and regional or global institutions.

You’ll be able to choose to take your Final Year Project either with politics or with your chosen language.

The international outlook and knowledge you develop alongside advanced language skills will allow you to consider career options in a range of fields when you graduate.

Choose one of the following languages

We offer the following languages at two entry levels: beginners’ or with prior experience (eg A-level or equivalent). If you have prior experience in Arabic or Thai, please contact us before applying:

  • Arabic (from beginners' level only)
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Thai (from beginners' level only)

You must include your chosen language in the ‘Further Details’ section of your UCAS application.

Specialist facilities

With a variety of specialist facilities and four libraries on campus, you’ll find plenty of space for study, group work, and research.

The Language Centre includes digital language labs, audio/video practice booths and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The Language Zone offers excellent learning material in more than 50 languages, including online resources and advice. The Language Exchange and the Language Groups programme provide opportunities to practice with other learners and native speakers. You can also volunteer to help other learners and enhance your CV at the same time.

The world-class Brotherton Library is home to a wide variety of manuscripts, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections – valuable assets for your independent research. These include rare copies of magazines and unpublished letters with materials across the range of languages that we teach, from medieval Latin to the Leeds Russian Archive. Our main library resources are also excellent, and the University Library offers a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of them.

Our Martin Thomas Translation Labs feature state-of-the-art computing facilities for translation studies as well as Interpreter Training Suites – ideal if you are considering a career in interpreting.

We also have links with several institutions that support language-learning on campus, such as Instituto Cervantes (Spanish), Instituto Camoes (Portuguese) and Institut Ramon Llull (Catalan).

Course details

On this joint honours course, you’ll combine politics with your chosen language.

In your first year, compulsory modules will equip you with the research and academic skills you need to study politics. You’ll then build on your knowledge in the following year, with compulsory modules that allow you to gain new skills in political research and explore different areas of political theory.

Around this, you’ll choose from more advanced modules in topics such as UK politics and the political systems of different countries and regions. In addition, you can select options from a range of modules on broader topics, including the politics of different nations, different policy areas, and political theory.

Whether you’re starting your language from beginners’ level, or with prior knowledge, you’ll reach a professional standard in your chosen language through intensive learning practice and year abroad. Depending on the language that you are studying, you will spend either Year 2 or Year 3 in a country where your chosen language is spoken.

If you're taking your language as a beginner, you'll focus on building up quickly your language skills through your compulsory language modules. If you're an advanced learner, your compulsory language module will allow you to consolidate and broaden your language skills.

You’ll complement your language studies by exploring the cultures and societies of the countries where your chosen language is spoken as well as other countries around the world, choosing from a range of topics, including literature, cinema, popular culture, history, and politics.

In your final year, you’ll take a compulsory language module and you’ll be able to choose to take your Final Year Project either with politics or with your chosen language.

Depending on your choice of Final Year Project, you'll also have the flexibility to choose from a range of more specialised politics and cultural modules to deepen your knowledge. You’ll have the opportunity to enhance your professional language skills through modules on translation, interpreting or languages for business.

The international experience you gain and the political knowledge you develop, alongside advanced language skills, will allow you to consider career options in a range of fields when you graduate.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Every student takes compulsory weekly classes in their chosen language and a selection of compulsory and optional modules in politics. They also take further modules in culture and society.

Find out more information on typical modules for the different language combinations of this course. You can study the following languages as part of your Modern Languages degree:

The politics modules follow the structure below. This list represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

  • Comparative Politics (20 credits) - Comparative politics involves two separate yet integrated components: it compares the nature of politics and processes across different political systems, and it studies how and why we make these comparisons. As such, this course is organized along both theoretical and substantive lines, taking advantage of case studies to provide context and example.This course is designed to introduce major concepts and issues in the comparative study of politics and government.

  • Freedom, Power and Resistance (20 credits) - This module provides students with a critical introduction to Western political thought. It aims to establish a grounding in some of the key ideas and theories that have shaped modern politics. In this way, the module seeks both to facilitate critical reflection on public life, and to provide a foundation for the further study of political theory.

Students also take this module in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies:

  • Politics, Culture and Society (20 credits) - What are the key debates that shape the practice of politics at international level? How can theory helps us better understand and analyse the practice of politics in the world today? How can awareness of differing cultural and intercultural perspectives help us better understand contemporary international politics?

Year 2

Students take at least two of the following optional politics modules:

  • Revolution and Reaction (20 credits)

  • Justice, Community and Conflict (20 credits)

  • Media and Democracy (20 credits)

  • Politics and Policy in the EU (20 credits)

  • Politics of Contemporary China (20 credits)

  • State and Politics in Africa (20 credits)

  • United States Politics (20 credits)

  • Approaches to Analysis (20 credits)

Year 3

  • Final Year Project: either dissertation in politics, or dissertation, translation or podcast in your chosen language (40 credits)

Students can also take up to three of the following optional modules, depending on where they take their Final Year Project:

  • Video Games (20 credits)

  • Nuclear Weapons and Global Politics (20 credits)

  • Philosophy of Human Rights (20 credits)

  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa (20 credits)

  • Europe in the World (20 credits)

  • Reimagining Politics (20 credits)

  • British Foreign Policy (20 credits)

  • Extreme Right Parties (20 credits)

  • Radical Ideas (20 credits)

  • The Politics of National Identity in the UK (20 credits)

  • Gender and Security in Global Politics (20 credits)

  • Terrorism (20 credits)

Learning and teaching

Our tutors are experts in their fields whose teaching is informed by their own cutting-edge research.

They are passionate researchers and dedicated teachers who use a range of teaching methods to help you benefit from their expertise, including lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops.

Independent study is also central to this degree, since it allows you to develop your skills in research and analysis. You’ll be able to apply your skills and knowledge in a final year research project on a topic of your own choice.

We're committed to an innovative and inclusive approach to teaching, which draws on a variety of activities, including flipped learning, group presentations, and bespoke digital resources to prepare you for your seminar discussions.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We are creative in our approach to assessment and always use it to support your independent learning. We use a wide range of methods including essays, exams, presentations, podcasts, literature reviews, reflective logs, and group projects.

Assessments are designed to deliver the transferable skills needed for the world of work. Task-based activities are designed to evidence critical thinking, demonstrate initiative, and show knowledge of a range of relevant subjects and sources.

Support for assessments is integrated into our teaching, and you'll usually have the opportunity for formative assessments that allow you to practice your skills and do well in your formal assessments. We also run extra classes on skills such as public speaking, structuring essays and exam technique that you’ll be able to attend throughout your time at Leeds.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

  • Where a post-A level language route is taken, a B grade in the relevant language is required.

  • Where Chinese or Japanese is taken, a GCSE in any modern language is required.

  • Where any other beginner language route is taken, previous experience in language is not required.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required. This course has additional subject specific requirements. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.


We will consider the level 3 QCF BTEC at Subsidiary Diploma level and above in combination with other qualifications. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M2. Where a post-A level language route is taken, M2 in the relevant language is required. Where Chinese or Japanese is taken, a GCSE in any modern language is required. Where any other beginner language route is taken, previous experience in language is not required.

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall with 16 at Higher Level. Where a post-A level language route is taken, 5 points at Higher Level in the relevant language is required. Where Chinese or Japanese is taken, a GCSE in any modern language is required. Where any other beginner language route is taken, previous experience in language is not required.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

35 points overall with 16 at Higher Level. Where a post-A level language route is taken, 5 points at Higher Level in the relevant language is required. Where Chinese or Japanese is taken, a GCSE in any modern language is required. Where any other beginner language route is taken, previous experience in language is not required.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers - OR A in Advanced Higher and AABBB in Highers - OR AAAABB at Higher Level. Where a post-A level language route is taken, a B grade in Advanced Higher in the relevant language is required. Where Chinese or Japanese is taken, a GCSE in any modern language is required. Where any other beginner language route is taken, previous experience in language is not required.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer: BBB at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.

Extended project and Access to Leeds offer: BBC at A Level and A in a relevant EPQ and pass Access to Leeds.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

You need to tell us your language combination when you apply. Input your chosen language in the Further Details section on your UCAS application.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

By taking this joint honours course you’ll gain the language and professional skills to prepare you for an international career in a wide range of sectors. You’ll acquire proficiency in one of the world languages and gain an in-depth understanding of fundamental aspects of world politics.

As well as demonstrating that you’re intellectually versatile, this joint honours course will equip you with a wide range of skills across different disciplines which are attractive to employers such as:

  • Good research skills and the ability to analyse complex information from multiple sources before drawing your own conclusions.
  • Communication skills, enabling you to defend your views clearly, either verbally or in writing.
  • Strong organisational skills and the confidence to work independently or in a team.
  • A deep understanding of cultural diversity, allowing you to work effectively with people whose backgrounds differ from yours.

Leeds graduates have pursued careers across the globe and in a range of sectors including: education, the media, law, publishing, the civil service, business and finance and the charity sector. Many others have also pursued postgraduate study, including further training in language-based careers such as translating and interpreting.

Careers support

Leeds is the 6th most targeted university in the UK by graduate recruiters (The Graduate Market in 2023).

At Leeds, we are fully committed to developing your employability and career prospects. You’ll have a wealth of opportunities to develop your skills and make the most out of your time at Leeds and during the time you’ll spend abroad.

Experience of living abroad, combined with detailed study of languages and cultures, is valuable preparation for employment in a multicultural, multinational environment.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Our experts in the University’s Careers Centre will support you to make informed decisions about your career path, understand the opportunities available and the steps you need to take to pursue your choices. You’ll be encouraged to attend on-campus events including graduate recruitment fairs, employer networking and information sessions, and meetings with our alumni.   

The Union provides career-related support through the part-time job hub, student societies and other activities throughout the year. Clubs and societies are a great way to get involved in lots of activities and explore your interests. They’re also a great way to develop your skills such as team working and leadership. For example, you could be a key player in an award-winning sports team, or become a committee member and chair society meetings, or you could even project manage a volunteering trip overseas. The Union is home to School Reps who are appointed by students to represent the views and be the voice of students in your School.  

At Leeds, you can access support to help you start your own business. Whether you want to learn about enterprise or become an entrepreneur, we offer award-winning specialist support. 

As a student with us, you’ll be guided in your career choices and prepared for life after your degree in a variety of ways. Workshops and events are organised for you by the School throughout the year and focus on networking, understanding the value of your language skills, hearing from alumni about their career experiences, and hosting graduate recruiters who want to hire you.

We’ll also keep you informed of work/voluntary placements for your time abroad and of any other part-time and volunteering opportunities that you can fit around your studies.

Study abroad and work placements

Your residence abroad is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture while sharpening and refining your language skills every day. For many of our students, it’s the highlight of their degree.

Your year abroad opportunities will depend on your language combination and level. Depending on your host country, you may be able to complete a work placement, work as a Foreign Language Assistant (FLA) for the British Council, or study at a partner university. You may also be able to combine a work placement and a study placement.

If you are studying French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish, you may be able to spend up to one year in your third year in a country where these languages are spoken, depending on your language combination.

If you are studying Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Thai, you’ll spend the second year of the programme abroad, studying an intensive language course.

Find out more about the options available for each of your chosen languages:

  • Read more about Arabic Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Chinese Residence Abroad
  • Read more about French Residence Abroad
  • Read more about German Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Italian Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Japanese Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Spanish and Portuguese Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Portuguese Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Russian Residence Abroad
  • Read more about Thai Residence Abroad

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Student profile: Cothney Lasaracina

The best aspect so far has been the exchange of knowledge between peers, lecturers and seminar tutors in my course.
Find out more about Cothney Lasaracina's time at Leeds