Modern Languages and Linguistics BA

Year of entry

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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
BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students in the Language Zone

Combine your passion for speaking languages with a fascination for how they work, by studying linguistics alongside one of ten languages.

You'll develop the spoken and written skills in your chosen language and explore the cultures and histories of the countries where the language is spoken.

Developing expertise in linguistics will help you navigate the uniquely complex phenomenon of language. You’ll explore language acquisition, structure and change, the mental and social processes that shape and sustain human interaction, as well as phonetics – the study of how speech sounds are physically produced.

Studying a language will complement this expertise as you’ll be able to use these linguistic concepts and theories to enhance your language learning. Your year abroad will further enhance your language learning.

In your final year, you'll develop a project on a topic of your choice to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that you have gained during this four-year degree.

This joint honours degree offers you teaching of the highest standard, in a research-intensive environment where enthusiastic experts and students come together to explore linguistics and languages.

You’ll also be encouraged to get involved in a range of activities organised by the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and Language@Leeds.

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.

Areas of staff expertise in linguistics include: phonetics, syntax, multilingualism, child and adult language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, language change, language and gender, discourse and pragmatics, and endangered languages.

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 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.

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.

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

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 residence abroad – where you’ll spend up to a year in a country where your chosen language is spoken. You’ll complement your language studies with compulsory and optional content in linguistics and phonetics.

In your first year, you’ll take compulsory language and modules introducing you to the main principles of linguistics and phonetics, as well as selecting from optional and discovery modules. You’ll have the option to study a module that introduces concepts which are important to a wider understanding of languages, cultures and societies.

It’s all valuable knowledge for you to build upon in the following year, when you’ll continue your language studies and take compulsory modules in phonetics and syntax, plus choose from a range of option modules.

In your final year, you’ll deepen your knowledge of linguistics and enhance your professional language skills, through modules on translation, interpreting or languages for business. Your final year will involve working on a research project, which could be a dissertation, translation or podcast. You'll also have the flexibility to choose from a range of language and cultural modules to deepen your knowledge.

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

Course Structure

Every student takes compulsory weekly classes in their chosen language and a selection of other modules on 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 linguistics 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

  • Language: Structure and Sound (20 credits) - This module introduces students to the scientific study of language structure and speech sounds. It covers core concepts in linguistics and phonetics, focusing on how speech sounds are produced (phonetics) and function as part of the sound systems of languages (phonology), on the internal structure of words (morphology) and on the internal structure of sentences (syntax).

  • Language: Meaning and Use (20 credits) - This module introduces students to the scientific study of language use. It covers how language is acquired (language acquisition) and processed in the mind (psycholinguistics), how meaning is conveyed through language (semantics and pragmatics), and how language use varies across time, geographical areas and social settings (sociolinguistics).

Optional modules (a selection of typical options, 20 credits each)

  • Psycholinguistics

  • Representation, Identity and Control

Year 2 compulsory modules

  • Phonetics (20 credits) - Phonetics is the scientific study of how speech is produced and perceived. This module looks at how the human vocal mechanism works to produce the sounds we observe in the world’s languages. Students learn how to describe and classify speech sounds on the basis of their articulatory characteristics. Some basic concepts in acoustic phonetic analysis are introduced.

  • Syntax (20 credits) - Syntax is the component of language grammars that determines how words combine into larger units and how parts of sentences relate to each other. This module introduces students to principles of syntactic theory and trains students to carry out basic practical syntactic analysis with reference to English and other languages. Students gain a better understanding of the language(s) they speak, and become aware of the often surprising structural similarities between languages.

Optional modules (a selection of typical options, 20 credits each)

  • Psycholinguistics

  • Representation, Identity and Control

  • Language Change

  • Language Acquisition

Year 3 compulsory modules

  • Final Year Project/Dissertation (in either linguistics or a topic to do with language, culture and society) (40 credits)

Optional modules (a selection of typical options, 20 credits each)

  • Languages in Contact

  • Language Processing

  • Experimental Syntax

  • Sociophonetics

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

M1, 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

34 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)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3. Where a post-A level language route is taken, H3 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

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers - OR B in Advanced Higher and AAABB in Highers - OR AABBBB 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.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 75%. Where a post-A level language route is taken, 8.0 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.

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 an alternative 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 alternative admissions.

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

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

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year.


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

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: £9,250 (per year)

International: £24,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will remain capped at £9,250 for 2023/24 and 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 international undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for international students for 2023/24 and 2024/25 are available on individual course pages.

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 Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

A degree in Modern Languages and Linguistics will equip you with a wide range of transferable skills.

You’ll be able to study different approaches, some of which will be more arts-focused and others more science-oriented. That means you can cultivate skills in a number of areas that employers highly value.

You’ll graduate with proficiency in your chosen language and have a real appreciation of the culture(s) that speak your chosen language. You'll also be a critical thinker who can research different sources and form conclusions from the information you find. Your communication skills will enable you to explain and defend your views clearly, either verbally or in writing. Because you’ve also gained organisational skills from managing two different subjects, you’ll be attractive to employers in all kinds of industries.

Graduates have gone into a range of careers. These include: coding, data analytics, business and finance, publishing, broadcasting, journalism, PR, advertising and marketing, charity and NGO work, human resource management, tourism and the civil service.

Others have studied for a postgraduate qualification in Linguistics to pursue a linguistics-based career or to prepare for PhD study, or undertaken further training in careers such as law, education, speech and language therapy, forensic linguistics, and speech technology.

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 unique approach helps you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Careers support

Leeds is the 5th most targeted university in the UK by graduate recruiters (The Graduate Market in 2022). 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.

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

An integral part of your degree is the opportunity to spend a year abroad in a country where your chosen language is spoken. It’s 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.

If you're studying Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Thai, you’ll spend your second year abroad and you’ll be studying an intensive language course.

Otherwise, you’ll be spending your third year abroad and, depending on your hosting country, you may be able to complete a work placement, undertake a British Council school assistantship or study at one of our partner universities.

Whatever your options, you’ll gain a new perspective on other cultures and societies across the world.

Students studying French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish can carry out a work placement, including working as a Foreign Language Assistant.

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

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.