If you like learning languages but also want to learn more than just the words, then the Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) course at Cambridge may well be for you. Alongside intensive language study, MML gives you a wide range of opportunities to learn about the culture, literature, cinema, history, philosophy, art and ideas of other countries, or about the nature of language itself (linguistics).
The MML course at Cambridge lasts four years, with the third year spent abroad. The main languages available for study are: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, with Dutch, Modern Greek, Catalan, Polish and Ukrainian as options after the first year. It is also perfectly possible to combine a European language with a classical language, e.g., classical Greek or classical Latin, or with a language from Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, like Arabic.
You would take two languages during the first two years of the degree: some students continue with two languages that they have already studied at A Level (or equivalent) and some continue with one language that they have studied at A Level while starting a new language from scratch / “ab initio” (or one that they have not studied as far as A Level). The chief emphasis in the first year is on developing your language skills, although there are also papers that introduce you to literature, linguistics, film and history, giving you an idea of what you might like to pursue later in the course. During the year abroad and the fourth year, you would choose how to divide your time between the two languages you’re studying. At this stage, you’d have the opportunity to pursue your interests in significant depth, and the wide range of papers on offer would allow you to focus in great detail, for instance, on particular historical periods, cultural movements, critical theory, the body as represented across different media, intellectual history and more besides.
Leaders in world-class scholarship and teaching, academic staff at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics are pioneering researchers in a wide range of fields that include the phenomenon of human language itself, individual European languages and language families, and the literatures, art forms, film, history, and cultures associated with those languages both today and in the past.
Full course details are provided on the Faculty’s Prospective Undergraduates webpage and the University’s Undergraduate Study webpage.
MML at Churchill
Churchill would be an excellent place for you to study MML. Although much of your teaching would take place in the Faculty, quite a bit of it would also take place in the College, depending on your choice of subjects. For example, intensive native-speaker language work and small-group teaching (‘supervisions’) are often held at Churchill. We are fortunate in having an extremely strong group of teachers at Churchill — dynamic, enthusiastic, and supportive. We have Teaching Fellows in French and German literature and culture, with an affiliated expert in Spanish and Latin American literature and culture. We have regular native-speaker language teachers in French (a Senior Language Teaching Officer), German and Spanish. For subjects areas that we do not cover in-house, we would send you to good, carefully-selected supervisors in other colleges. All Cambridge Colleges work in this way, to ensure that you get a mix of teaching inside and outside your College. There is a well-stocked College library, and suggestions from undergraduates for further acquisitions are always welcome.
We welcome applications to study any of the languages taught in the Faculty. Whatever languages you are studying, the person with whom you would plan and discuss your academic progress would be your College Director of Studies (DoS) in MML. Your DoS will be keen to help you develop to your full potential during your time here: we want to help you find out what courses of study suit you best, what you are most interested in, what you enjoy most, how to build on your natural strengths and how to improve your knowledge and skills as much as possible. We would treat you as an individual rather than expect you to follow the same course of studies as your peers or to improve at the same rate.
Our students come from very different backgrounds; they have all kinds of different personalities and interests. We give them lots of practical support too: College aims to give financial help to students wishing to follow vacation courses abroad, and a dedicated fund has been established for such support. Our students regularly do extremely well in their degree examinations, with a number of Churchill students featuring at or near the top of the University rankings in recent years. Recent graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, such as journalism, marketing and finance, teaching, law and the Civil Service, often using their languages with jobs in Europe or elsewhere.
To find out about admissions, go to Apply | Undergraduates.
Course-specific information, including the University’s typical offers and the attainment level of the University’s typical entrants, is available by selecting your course from the University’s Course List then looking at the Entry Requirements tab. Academic offer conditions can vary by College so if you want to apply to Churchill then check out our entries in the by-College list of entry requirements that’s available on the same tab. The University’s Entrance Requirements and International Entry Requirements webpages may contain guidance relevant to you too.
To learn more about the academic profiles of Churchill entrants and our approach to setting conditional offers, see Entry Requirements | Undergraduates.
If you apply to Churchill, we’ll ask you to submit a minimum two examples of teacher-marked written work. These should be taken from your present or most recent studies, and should not be re-written or corrected for your Cambridge application. Ideally, each piece should be 1500 to 2000 words in length.
If you’re studying two languages at A Level or equivalent, we’ll ask for an essay written in each of these languages (irrespective of whether you’re applying to continue both here), plus a recent essay from another subject written in English. If you’re studying one language at A Level, we’ll ask for an essay written in that language, plus a recent essay from another subject written in English.
All MML applicants are required to take a written assessment after shortlisting for interview. There’s more information on and linked from the University’s Admissions Assessments webpage.
The role of academic interviews in Churchill’s admissions process is explained at Interviews | Undergraduates.
If we ask you to attend, you’ll normally be interviewed by at least two language specialists, one of whom will be a representative for any language(s) that you are presently studying and want to continue here. If you are applying to study one language from scratch / “ab initio” (as about half our students do) then one of the interviewers is likely to be a specialist in that language. Even if you have no knowledge of that language, they’ll want to ask why you want to pursue it.
At interview, you’ll be asked to speak for a few minutes in any language that you are presently studying and wish to continue here. You may also be asked some grammar questions and about what you’ve read in that language (those languages) and/or what interests you about its (their) countries and cultures. Finally, there may be some questions relating to a passage in that language (those languages) that we’ll give you before your interview, which you’ll be able to read in advance and annotate.