BA History and Modern Languages

Flags from different countries

History and Modern Languages brings history, literature, and language together into a single rewarding course. Students explore complementary, but intellectually distinct, approaches to understanding literary texts and their historical contexts. The degree offers enormous flexibility. Some students choose to specialise in the history, literature, and culture of a single country or century, while others use the degree to range widely across the globe and historical periods. 

In this four-year degree you study History with one of eight different modern languages: Czech, French, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish. In Oxford, you will receive three years of high-quality language training and access to exceptional resources, including use of the biggest research library in Britain devoted to modern languages. You will also benefit from spending a year studying or working abroad, so as to become fluent in writing and speaking another language. Your knowledge of language, literature, and culture will become integral to your skills as an historian.  


Year 1 (Prelims) 

As a first-year student, you will study a wide range of time periods, places, and methods. You will be introduced to new ways of studying history and literature, while also learning crucial academic and language skills. You will study:  

  1. Three language papers 

  1. Two literature papers 

  1. European/World History 

  1. Either History of the British Isles, or Optional Subject, or Approaches, or Historiography, or a Foreign Text


Years 2, 3 & 4 (Final Honours School) 

In the final three years of study you have enormous choice. Some students range widely over time and space, others prefer to develop focused specialist interests, but you are all trained to do original research that combines your historical, literary, and linguistic skills. Your third year will be spent working or studying abroad.  You will study: 

  1. European/World History 

  1. Two literature papers 

  1. Two language papers 

  1. Oral examination 

  1. A combination of papers, chosen from History of the British Isles/Further Subject/Special Subject/Modern Language options

  1. A Bridge Essay based on original interdisciplinary research 

Faculty of History logo
Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages logo



When applying for the BA in History and Modern Languages degree, applicants will need to take both the History Aptitude Test (HAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT).

You will also need to submit one essay on an historical topic and one essay relating to the language you are applying to study. 

What I enjoy the most about my Joint Honours Degree is just how much scope there is for interdisciplinary study. Mirroring the periods for my History and Italian papers has allowed me to gain an insight into the socio-cultural, political, economic, literary and intellectual contexts of my set texts, helping me to produce more well-rounded and in-depth analyses in my essays.

Anna Zakonyi (BA History and Modern Languages)