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Modern & Medieval Languages

If you like learning languages but also want to learn more than just the words, then the Modern Languages course at Cambridge University may well be for you.

Exterior view of Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

Alongside intensive language study, the MML degree 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. 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 (such as Arabic). Studying MML will give you the opportunity to become fluent in at least two languages. 

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Starting a language ab initio at Cambridge

All the languages on offer in the Faculty, except for French, may be started ab initio, and a substantial proportion of students each year choose to do this. Beginners follow a different course from post A-level students in their first year and, where language papers only are concerned, in their second. The third and fourth year of the course is identical for ex-beginners and post A-level students. Starting a new language is hard work, but most students who choose this option find it very rewarding.

The year abroad

The third year is spent abroad, in a country in which one of your languages is spoken as a first or second language. Many students enrol in a university course given in the target language (the course may be in any subject, provided that instruction is in the language you have been studying). Others teach English as a Language Assistant at a school through the British Council. Others again opt to work abroad, as interns or in paying positions. 

MML open day

Academic Requirements

Applicants to all Colleges for the Modern & Medieval Languages course should be studying at A level (or equivalent) at least one of the two languages to be studied at Cambridge. Beyond that there are no required subjects. Whilst it is always helpful to be able to demonstrate linguistic aptitude at the same, or lower, level, many combinations of subjects provide a strong basis for the study of modern languages. It is also helpful to be able to demonstrate critical engagement with the literature and culture of the societies where the languages to be studied are spoken. This may emerge from curricular studies in History, Media, Literature or society of the country; or it may come from extra-curricular study.

See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.


Applicants invited for interview will be asked to sit a written assessment on the day of their interviews. This assessment will last no longer than one hour, and specifications can be found here

The usual practice in Modern Languages is to give candidates two subject interviews, one for each of the languages for which they have applied. Each interview is twenty to thirty minutes long and conducted by two interviewers: one a specialist in the language.  

In addition to the two subject interviews, all candidates have a "tutorial" interview with the Senior Tutor or one of the other Tutors. This contributes to your overall assessment and covers your interests and academic progress more broadly.

The Director of Studies is Silke Mentchen.

Find out more about the MML course on the department website, and especially here, and the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

Should you wish to have a look at the kind of topics and subjects we teach by exploring self-study material, please see our Resources for Students