The English and Modern Languages degree at Oxford is a rich and rewarding opportunity to study the literatures of two traditions, and to illuminate the understanding of each culture through the other.
We look for students who are passionate about literature, curious about other cultures, who will relish the challenges of becoming fluent in another language, and who enjoy cross-cultural comparison.
Students in their first year typically take courses on the modern languages side designed to consolidate their language skills and to introduce them to the study of literature in that language. They take two papers for English: an introduction to literary criticism and theory, and a choice between Old English, Middle English, Victorian, or Modern Literature. After the first-year exams (Prelims), students choose options for the rest of their degree from among a wide variety of papers in English and the modern language, ranging from the medieval to the contemporary. The third year is usually spent abroad in a country where that language is spoken; students undertake a variety of projects on this year, some studying at university, some teaching English as a foreign language, and some working on a placement. This year can be tremendously rewarding both personally and academically: students typically come back fluent in the language, wider in their reading and perspectives, and excited by their new experiences. In their final year, students complete papers on each side of the course, and can also write a comparative dissertation which unites themes from the literature of both languages. Equal weight may be placed on each side of the degree throughout, although it is also possible to study one of the two subjects in greater depth; in either case, students are encouraged at every stage to bring what they have learnt in English to bear on their modern language, and vice versa.
Oriel has a strong tradition in English and Modern Languages. We have Fellows in French (Richard Scholar), German (Annette Volfing), and English (Kathryn Murphy), and lecturers in Italian, Spanish, and Russian. Several of us undertake research in comparative literature, and both the French tutor, and the English tutor are themselves graduates of English and Modern Languages.
One piece of marked written work is required for each language you plan to study and in which you will have A2 (or equivalent) before university. In addition, all candidates must submit one piece of marked writing in English. If you are applying for a language which you have not taken at A2 (or equivalent) then you do not need to submit anything in that language.
All candidates are required to sit a test or tests in November (find out more on the University website).
Conditional offers are usually AAA at A-level (or equivalent), with A grades required for any language to be studied (except ab initio languages). There is no written test at interview, but all applicants will be expected to have taken the ELAT (see www.elat.org.uk/). Candidates have two interviews in the college. As part of the process, candidates are given a short text to read and then discuss with interviewers; they are also expected to discuss their recent reading, both in and out of school.