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Birkbeck, University of London: Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures

Institution Birkbeck, University of London View institution profile
Department Languages, Cultures and Applied Linguistics
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


This Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures course offers you the chance to explore the cultures of French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish and Latin American language-speaking areas. At the same time, it gives you a thorough grounding in comparative literary and cultural studies in the context of modern languages. You can take a broadly comparative pathway through the degree or choose to engage with one or more specific language-speaking areas. 

This course brings together a team of renowned academic experts in a variety of different areas: cultural studies, visual studies, linguistics, comparative literature and cultures, history and thought, from the Enlightenment to the twenty-first century. We have designed it to be responsive and adaptable to the needs of our students and will help you steer a pathway through the course that reflects your specific interests, career and personal ambitions, and language knowledge.

You will be able to choose whether you study texts in the original language or in English translation. You may also choose language learning at our advanced levels which incorporate workshops on advanced academic writing and allow you to enhance and perfect your language skills in conjunction with multiple forms of cultural analysis.

If you opt for a language-specific focus working in the original languages, your degree title will reflect the language/s you have chosen. For example, if you decide to focus on one language-speaking area such as French-speaking, you will be awarded an MA French Studies. If you focus on two language-speaking areas such as German and Japanese, you will be awarded an MA German and Japanese Studies.

MRes: if you wish to pursue a more research-oriented pathway through this course then the MRes is ideal as it offers you specialist training in research skills. You can also opt to write your dissertation related to a specific language-speaking area or areas and, if you also work with cultural artefacts in the original language/s, you can be awarded an MRes which names the language or languages, such as MRes French Studies, or MRes German and Japanese Studies. 


  • You will be taught by specialists from our Department of Languages, Cultures and Applied Linguistics, a centre of teaching and research excellence that prides itself on research-led teaching in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, making it an outstanding multidisciplinary department.

  • Ours is a community of scholars with shared interests in interdisciplinary topics and cross-cultural research. Our affiliated research centres, the Centre for French, Francophone and Comparative Studies (CFFCS) and the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS), provide an important platform for this exchange.

  • ll teaching takes place in our central London location in Bloomsbury, a stone’s throw from research libraries and all the cultural richness that London has to offer by way of theatre, museums and galleries.

  • You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group - now home to our School of Arts. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery, the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space.

  • Students applying for this course are eligible to apply for School of Arts taught postgraduate funding.


Master of Research - MRes

Birkbeck, University of London



Birkbeck, part of the University of London, offers nearly 300 taught and research postgraduate programmes across arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science and social science. As an evening teaching specialist, Birkbeck offers its taught postgraduate courses between 6-9pm, with some courses available through distance learning. As with undergraduate courses, postgraduates can study full-time or part-time.

Home to 44 research and specialist institutes, Birkbeck is the sixth largest provider of taught postgrad courses for UK and EU students - some 44% of its 11,000-plus students are on postgrad programmes. Around 90% of its academics …

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