Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA French and Spanish

UCAS code: RR14

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA French and Spanish

This wide-ranging joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study two major world languages in their diverse cultural contexts. Both languages are among the ten most widely spoken in the world and have had a profound cultural influence beyond Europe.

Through intensive language study, including a year abroad, you will have the opportunity to acquire advanced spoken and written skills in both French and Spanish.

In addition to your language classes, you will explore aspects of French-speaking (francophone) and Spanish-speaking cultures from the Middle Ages to the 21st century.

Our courses cover:

  • literature, film and theatre
  • political history and social movements
  • philosophical ideas

They include specialist options taught by leading experts in key disciplines, including post-colonial studies and gender studies.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival and capital city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study languages in their global cultural context.

We are unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working.

Our programme is flexible. In Years 1 and 2, as well as French and Spanish, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines. You will then specialise as you progress through your honours years.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education in the arts and humanities, and specialist knowledge of two modern languages, valued by employers worldwide.

What our students say

I truly believe studying modern languages at Edinburgh is an invaluable experience. The academics here are committed to advancing our language skills. However, the benefits of studying French and Spanish transcend linguistic ability. We study a diverse and engaging range of materials, including feminist poetry by Castellanos, Spanish medieval ballads, satirical philosophical literature by Voltaire and the events of May 68. It is this amalgamation of both historical and modern elements of French and Spanish culture, history, politics, and philosophy which makes the course at Edinburgh so uniquely forward-thinking and engaging.

  • Scarlett, Year 2, French and Spanish MA (Hons)

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of French and Spanish.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

French

If you have a limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A, an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture.

If you have studied French beyond National 5 (SQA) or GCSE level, you will typically take French 1B. As well as developing your written and spoken language skills, this course focuses on modern French literature, culture and civilisation covering the period from the Second World War to the 21st century.

Spanish

You will study either Spanish 1A or 1B, depending on your language skills. Typically, students on Spanish 1B come to University with substantially more experience of studying Spanish than students on Spanish 1A.

As well as developing your language skills, both the 1A and 1B courses will introduce you to a diverse selection of cultural texts and films from across the Spanish-speaking world.

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University.

You can, for example, opt to study another language, such as Basque, Catalan or Portuguese. Like the majority of our languages, these course are suitable for complete beginners and includes cultural study.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

French

You will further develop your language skills in French, including in writing, translation and grammar. You will gain confidence speaking in French on a variety of topics relating to contemporary France and the francophone world.

You will take a course in French and francophone literature and culture. This course will introduce you to the most important authors at key points in French literary and cultural history, from the 12th to the 21st century.

You will study works by writers such as Montaigne, Racine, Molière and Baudelaire alongside texts that have been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics.

Spanish

You will continue to develop your spoken and written language skills and to study Spanish and Latin American cultures.

Students of 1A and 1B will come together in our Spanish Language 2 course. This course will help you communicate your ideas in Spanish using more nuanced grammatical structures, vocabulary and syntax. In both your spoken and written work, you will gain confidence in expressing yourself in Spanish ready to study or work abroad in Year 3.

You will also take a further course on the literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. You'll be introduced to different genres and artistic currents which demonstrate how culture has reflected, shaped and contested reality from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will choose from a wide range of option courses.

These option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical option courses include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

You will also have the chance to take a course in the Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France or to take up or continue Basque, Catalan or Portuguese, expanding your knowledge of Iberian languages and cultures.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of French and Spanish by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between a country in which French is spoken and one in which Spanish is spoken.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is normally based on whether you study, work or combine the two.

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into a lived experience, you will study or work in countries where either French or Spanish is spoken.

For French, we typically have exchange places at partner universities across Belgium, France and Switzerland.

For Spanish, you will typically study at partner universities in Spain and Latin America (Argentina, Chile and Mexico).

It may also be possible to work in a wider range of countries in which French or Spanish are spoken. If you are considering working abroad, the first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Study or work?

When you are abroad, you can typically choose to:

  • study in one or two destinations
  • work in one or two destinations
  • study in one destination and work in another

If you choose to study, you will take classes at one or two of the universities where we have available exchange opportunities. This means that you will spend either:

  • two semesters at a single institution
    or
  • one semester at two different institutions (in different destinations)

A work placement abroad is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. Once you have checked if you are eligible to work abroad, and have talked through your plans with us, you might choose to do one or more placements. For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching or language assistant through an organisation such as the British Council.

Whatever you decide to do, your time abroad is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. It adds an international dimension to your studies, showing future employers that you are open to new ideas and experiences.

Coursework while abroad

We will aim to ensure your experience abroad is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad, you will take e-learning courses in both French and Spanish to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses. These courses will count as part of your Year 3 marks, alongside any coursework arranged by your host university (if studying abroad).

Depending on your Year Abroad activities, you also begin preparing for your dissertation while abroad, guided by your dissertation supervisor.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety

Your wellbeing and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for French and Spanish and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in both French and Spanish.

In addition to these core courses, you will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses on topics such as francophone, Spanish and Latin American:

  • film
  • literature
  • history
  • politics
  • language
  • linguistics
  • media and cultural production

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a dissertation or long essay in your choice of French or Spanish.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

Many of our courses have developed online resources to complement the core materials. These resources are designed to be accessible from home, or from the campus' excellent computing facilities.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include:

  • over 118,500 books and 25,500 journals in French and a particularly rich collection of French Language papers donated by eminent scholars
  • around 27,000 books and 5,000 journals in Spanish

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

Established in 1995, our Centre de recherches francophones belges promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature, and hosts a range of activities for students and the public. Since 2018, the Centre has been partnering with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) to bring francophone Belgian culture to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We play a key role in the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies at the University. It brings together staff and students from a number of different subject areas at Edinburgh, including:

  • film, media and art
  • geography
  • politics
  • history
  • social anthropology
  • linguistics

Since 2023, we have hosted the first extension of the Cervantes Institute in Scotland. Established in 1991, the Cervantes Institute is a non-profit organisation that promotes, supports, and celebrates Spanish-language literature, film, art, and cultures through a range of events and activities for students and the public.

We also play a key role in the Diaspolinks network, which brings together researchers with a shared interest in the growing field of Diaspora Studies, especially anglophone and francophone diasporas. The international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the context of British, French and Canadian immigration policies.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies, clubs and social enterprises. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

The French theatre society - Les Escogriffes - typically stages a play in French each year, with opportunities to direct, act, produce and promote. There is also a Spanish Society.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in Spanish, French, and seven other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. We have great links with both the Institut français d’Écosse and the Spanish Consulate.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has one of the best French collections in the UK and outstanding holdings in Spanish.

There is plenty to see and do throughout the year, including annual festivals for both French and Spanish film. The latter was started by our very own colleagues, and celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2023.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in countries where either French or Spanish is spoken. You will spend at least 8 weeks in each destination.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in countries where either French or Spanish is spoken. You will spend at least 8 weeks in each destination.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop, you will also gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of projects
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research, development and venture acceleration
  • translating and interpreting

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in two major world languages, and to understand the cultures to which they open doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that French and Spanish are two of the most widely spoken languages in the world - around 800 million people speak at least one of them either natively, or as a second language.

Graduating with an honours degree in this subject combination, you will be well placed to seek opportunities in almost 50 countries where either French or Spanish is an official language, including parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University of Edinburgh, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in French and in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work. Our portfolio of taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Each of these programmes is a good foundation for a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB. (Revised 18/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from AAA.)
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: a language other than English at B. National 5s: French at B (if not at Higher) and English at C.
  • A Levels: a language other than English at B. GCSEs: French at B or 6 (if not at A Level) and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: a language other than English at 5. SL: French at 5 (if not at HL) and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA French and Spanish

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally reimburse you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding