University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

Philosophy and Modern Languages

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Philosophy and Modern Languages

Philosophy and either Celtic, Czech (with Slovak), French, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish

A BA in 4 years with a year abroad

UCAS codes: see below

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 88%

Successful: 25%

Intake: 13

Entrance requirements

A-levels: AAA

Advanced Highers: AA/AAB

IB: 39 (including core points) with 666 at HL

Or any other equivalent

Candidates are not required to have any experience of studying Philosophy though some background reading is highly recommended.

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: MLAT on 5 November 2014

Written Work: Two pieces

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

The year abroad has lower fees and extra funding - see

More Information

Modern Languages:

+44 (0) 1865 270750


+44 (0) 1865 276926

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July and 19 September 2014

What is Philosophy and Modern Languages?

Philosophy and Modern Languages brings together some of the most important approaches to understanding language, literature and ideas.

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 study of a modern European language develops analytical and critical abilities as well as a high level of linguistic skills; the study of the literature written in that language contributes to an understanding of many aspects of European culture. It develops attention to stylistic and terminological detail and rhetorical strategies, and sensitivity to cultural and historical context, which are also of great value for the study of philosophy.

Philosophy and Modern Languages at Oxford

Studying these two disciplines in parallel has numerous advantages and affords students greater insights into each.

The Philosophy Faculty is the largest philosophy department in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, admitting more than 500 undergraduates annually to read the various degrees involving Philosophy. Many faculty members have a worldwide reputation, and our library and other facilities are acknowledged as among the best in the country.

Oxford’s Modern Languages Faculty is one of the largest in the country, with a total intake of more than 250 students a year, including those reading joint degrees. The Taylor Institution is the biggest modern languages research library in the UK. The Modern

Languages Faculty also has an undergraduate lending library and a modern and excellently equipped Language Centre (see p 176 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]).

A typical weekly timetable

Your work is divided between tutorials (one or two weekly), lectures (typically about six hours weekly) and classes (first-year logic, language classes throughout the course, typically about two to three hours weekly). The rest of your week will be spent in private study to prepare essays for tutorials.

What are tutors looking for?

For information about the selection criteria please see:

At interview, tutors will be looking for interest in the proposed fields of study, relevant linguistic ability, a critical and analytical response to questions and/or texts and the ability to defend a viewpoint by reasoned argument.

Course Combinations

Course combinations You can either study Philosophy with a Modern Language you already speak, or with a Modern Language you’d like to learn from scratch.

For the following course combinations you would usually be expected to have the Modern Language to A-level, or another academic equivalent.

Philosophy and:

Czech VR57

French VR51

German VR52

Modern Greek VQ57

Italian VR53

Portuguese VR55

Russian VRM7

Spanish VR54

The following course combinations allow you to begin studying a Modern Language from scratch, although those with experience in Celtic are also very welcome to apply.

Philosophy and:

Celtic VQ55

Beginners’ Czech VR5R

Beginners’ Modern Greek VR59

Beginners’ Italian RV35

Beginners’ Portuguese VR5M


Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other language courses, or Philosophy and Linguistics (part of PPL).


Philosophy and Modern Languages graduates enter careers including academic teaching and research, teaching, commerce, banking and financial services, journalism and communications. An Oxford degree in a modern language opens up opportunities for internationally focused careers or careers with international companies or organisations. The Languages Work website has further information about careers using languages at:

Recent Philosophy and Modern Languages graduates include an economic consultant, a management consultant, and a bilingual editor for a publishing company.

Samuel, who graduated in 2000, is now Africa Divisional Manager for Programme Development at Christian Aid. He says: My one-to-one tutorials gave me the tools and confidence to analyse and question accepted knowledge, perspectives and structures. These skills have transferred to a variety of roles since graduating, enabling me to challenge and improve my performance and that of others. The reflex of continuous learning that my degree instilled has helped me adapt to different sectors – from oil and gas to international development – and navigate across diverse cultures on the four continents where I’ve worked.

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].


Please see for details of Erasmus opportunities for this course.

1st year



  • General philosophy

  • Moral philosophy

  • Logic

Modern Languages

Translation into and from a European language and other exercises in the foreign language; two papers on the literature of the relevant language


First University examinations: Six written papers: two in Philosophy, four in Modern Languages

2nd and 4th years (3rd year spent abroad)



  • Either Early Modern philosophy

  • or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Modern Languages

  • Three language papers

  • One period of literature paper

  • One further paper from a list of options

Further options

  • Either four further papers in Philosophy (many options, including thesis)

  • or three further papers in Philosophy and one in Modern Languages (which may be an extended essay)

  • or two further papers in Philosophy and two in Modern Languages


Final University examinations: Nine papers (with a minimum of three in Philosophy and four in Modern Languages). One Philosophy paper maybe replaced by a thesis. Some Modern Languages papers may be replaced by a thesis or a portfolio of essays. Modern Languages oral

Student statement

The year abroad is very helpful with improving your language levels. Laura

listen to more at


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