BA (Hons) French and Spanish Language (with a year abroad)

UCAS code Typical offer Length
RR14 AAB (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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Our course combines practical study of French and Spanish with investigations into the nature of language itself. You'll gain an understanding of French and Spanish culture and society which will underpin your abilities as a high-level communicator in both languages. You'll be confident using your languages not only as a means of communication, but also as a medium for critical thought. You'll spend a year abroad studying or teaching in Spanish and French-speaking countries, consolidating your language skills.

Course overview

Practical language training, with emphasis on culture, society, and language study

The focus of our French and Spanish Language degree is on developing effective communication skills in the two languages. If what you love about learning a language is the opening it gives you into the life and culture of another society, and you want to be able to contribute to any conversation you encounter in a professional and culturally appropriate way, then York is the place for you. The course includes linguistics—the scientific study of how language works, and a year abroad. There is considerable flexibility in how much French, Spanish and linguistics you take over the four years. By the end of the course, you will be equipped for a range of professional roles that call for linguistic and cultural competence.

French and Spanish

In line with our focus on communication, you will be taught mainly in your target languages, in groups of no more than 15 students. We aim to encourage not only fluency but also the ability to discuss complex ideas in a coherent manner. Modules explore the society and culture of French-speaking and Spanish-speaking societies, in order to equip you with the background knowledge to function as a high-level communicator in both languages. On your year abroad, which can be spent in one or both of your language areas, you will gain valuable experience and considerably enhance your language skills.

Beginners welcome in Spanish!

You can take the Spanish part of this programme ab initio (i.e., from scratch, or with a qualification below A-level), or you can study both French and Spanish on a route designed for those who have A-levels in both languages.


The first and second years of this degree include introductory linguistics modules, in which you study the structure of language, and how it is acquired. From the second year, you can make choices about how much linguistics to include in your programme. For those who pursue linguistics, we offer unparalleled coverage of the field, with modules taught by world-leading academics in the core areas of syntax, phonetics and phonology, semantics, and sociolinguistics, and in sub-fields including second language acquisition, child bilingualism, and historical-comparative linguistics. Engaging with linguistic theory and practice will stimulate your critical thinking skills, foster your originality, and enable you to include analytical thinking and problem-solving in your skill set.

A top teaching and research community

Our department is one of the highest-ranked centres for research in linguistics, and the strength and diversity of our research is reflected in our teaching. We are ranked number 5 among all UK linguistics departments in the Times Good University Guide 2013 and the Complete University Guide 2013.

Course content

What you'll study

You will study French, Spanish and linguistics side by side in the first year, with opportunities to customise your course from the second year onwards.

First year

  • Your French and Spanish modules will focus on developing fluency, accuracy and communication expertise. If you are taking Spanish ab initio, you will follow an intensive, fast-track programme with more Spanish and less linguistics than students who take the A-level route.
  • You will take two core linguistics modules, or one if you are taking Spanish ab initio.

Second year

  • From this point, the emphasis in French and Spanish shifts to issues of culture and society in the French-speaking and Spanish-speaking worlds, addressing questions such as:
    • Why hasn’t France ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages?
    • Why might you come across an illegal pique-nique in a French supermarket?
    • Why is the Spanish Civil War still a difficult topic in Spain?
    • What is the relationship between the human rights movement and democratisation in Latin America?
  • You will develop skills in critical analysis of sources and communicate your findings using French and Spanish in different registers.
  • You will take one linguistics module, and you may choose to take two.

Third year: year abroad

  • You can divide the year abroad between two locations, a French-speaking country and a Spanish-speaking country, or you can choose to spend the whole year in one location. We assist you in setting up overseas university study or teaching placements, and offer guidance on all aspects of the year. See our current year abroad pages for more information.

Final year

  • You can choose from a range of advanced French and Spanish modules designed to consolidate your critical skills through in-depth research and analysis.
  • Advanced linguistics modules are also available, or you can choose to focus solely on French and Spanish. Many final-year linguistics modules offer the opportunity to focus on French or Spanish language as the topic of research, if you wish.

What modules are offered

The modules you can take depend on your pathway through the degree. The different pathways depend on whether you do Spanish ab initio or from A-level, whether you take linguistics throughout the programme of study, and whether you spend your year abroad in just one language area or divide it between two language areas. You don't have to make up your mind about the amount of linguistics or where to spend your year abroad until the start of Year 2. Use the following links to see the module options for each pathway:

    Spanish from A-level, or ab initio?
French, Spanish, and Linguistics throughout post-A-level ab initio
Focus on French and Spanish, with less linguistics post-A-level ab initio

Focus on just one language from Year 3

(year abroad in just one language area)

post-A-level  ab initio

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

In all areas of your studies, we aim to equip you to be an effective independent learner. The course includes a variety of modes of teaching and dissemination, designed to allow you to develop the skills and autonomy to direct your own learning.

French and Spanish

Our focus at York is on effective communication in French and Spanish. That is why:

  • we teach mainly in small seminars (not more than 12);
  • the medium of classroom interaction is the target languages;
  • we use authentic French and Spanish materials (e.g., French or Spanish television, magazines, etc.);
  • we emphasise issues of culture and society, allowing you to develop a high level cultural awareness to underpin your language skills.

Our communicative and culture-oriented approach to teaching, combined with your application and study, will allow you to develop integrity as a skilled user of advanced French and Spanish.


Core linguistics modules are taught through large lectures (some with over 100 students), accompanied by regular back-up sessions in smaller groups (20–30 students). As you move to more advanced linguistics modules, you will typically have more interactive classroom activities, such as group presentations or practical sessions, in addition to lectures. In final-year linguistics modules, most teaching takes place in smaller groups of 10–40. Depending on the module, your work may focus on library-based study using primary research papers, lab-based analysis of linguistic corpora, or lectures and seminars in one the advanced areas of specialism of our staff. 

Computer-assisted learning opportunities

All of our modules have associated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) sites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are always accessible via the internet. Most first-year modules provide additional self-study practice exercises on the VLE.

We have our own departmental e-Lab, accessible 24-hours a day, for the teaching and study time of our students.

How much study time is expected?

In first and second year of the degree, you will typically spend 11 hours per teaching week in the classroom (including both languages and linguistics), or 12 hours per week if you are taking ab initio Spanish. Contact hours in the final year will vary depending on individual choices. In addition to your classroom time, you should expect to devote at least 30 additional hours a week to independent study, which will include completing exercises, reading and digesting assigned papers, researching projects, writing and revising coursework, and preparing for assessments. Twice a year, in the middle of the autumn and spring terms, we have a reading week, which is devoted to independent study. You will receive guidance on your goals for each reading week.


How you'll be assessed

The main assessment types are exams and coursework. Within these two broad types you will encounter many variations customised to the content of each module. Exams include timed written exams, take-home written exams, and oral exams. Types of coursework range from short sets of exercises, to 5,000-word essays, to group projects in which you work in a team to research and present a topic. You will present work for language modules in the target language (French and Spanish). In most modules, the final mark is made up of the marks from more than one type of assessment.

What about practice or 'mock' assessments?

At York, assessments that count towards your final mark are called 'summative' assessments, but all modules also include 'formative' work — work that will help you to practice or develop skills for the summative assessment. Some modules (particularly in the first year) include a formative exam midway through the year. Other modules include formative exercises, a formative essay, or some opportunity to get feedback on the development and progress of a piece of summative work.

What kind of feedback will I get?

Intructors provide feedback in a variety of forms, according to the needs of the specific module. It may consist of written feedback on work that you have handed in, in-class discussion of common problems on a particular assignment, model answers, one-on-one discussion of research projects, or online responses to questions posted on the module discussion board.

Is the year abroad assessed?

Yes, in the sense that you must satisfactorily complete the following in order to graduate with a degree that has 'with a year abroad' in the title:

  • two essays in the target language submitted to York during the year;
  • fulfillment of year abroad obligations (attending courses and completing all the local assessments if you're at university; or carrying out your teaching duties if you're on a teaching assistantship).

However, your marks on the year abroad assessments do not contribute towards your overall degree mark.

Adjustments for students with disabilities

We can make reasonable adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. However, please note that, for students with dyslexia, it is not possible to make adjustments in the marking of work written in a closed language exam (French, German, Spanish or Italian). This is because accurate spelling is one of the assessment objectives in language exams. Note, though, that closed exams make up only a proportion of the assessment types used for languages; other assessment types such as coursework and oral presentations are also used. Students with dyslexia could apply for extra time in closed exams, if this would be of assistance. See the University's disability support pages for further details relating to all disabilities.


Careers and employability

Effective communication, critical thinking and project management skills are central to most careers. The study of languages at York equips you with these skills and others, which translate readily into any work context.

Our graduates

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation.

Apart from their knowledge of linguistics, our alumni have the confidence and skills that come from successfully completing a demanding course and participating fully in university life.

Career paths

There are specialist careers that lead directly from a languages degree, after additional postgraduate training, including:

  • translation and interpreting
  • teaching (primary and secondary)
  • clinical linguistics (Speech and Language Therapy)
  • academic research and higher/further education
  • forensic linguistics (Forensic Speech Science)

Our graduates are not limited to these specialist paths, however. Ongoing contact with our alumni well after graduation shows that they are equipped to pursue rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • marketing and communications
  • publishing
  • broadcasting and journalism
  • local government and public service
  • finance and accountancy
  • and many more ... 

Find out more about how we can help make you more employable


How to apply

All applications must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Prospective applicants should also read through the university's Undergraduate Prospectus. You can choose to view the prospectus online, download a PDF copy, or request a printed version.

Visit our department

We run a series of Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year, which will provide you with an opportunity to visit the University and the Department and talk to staff about the courses and your interests. We also have an undergraduate admissions tutor who is happy to answer any questions you may have.


Our French, German and Spanish programmes are designed to develop fluency in the languages. For this reason we do not normally offer places to native or near-native speakers of French, German or Spanish who wish to study their own language.

We require at least a B at A level (or equivalent) in French.

Applying for the ab initio route in Spanish


GCSE or AS-level Spanish may be appropriate qualifications for entry onto the ab initio Spanish programme. However, even if you do not have one of these qualifications, but you can demonstrate an aptitude for languages through other experience (e.g., successful study of a different foreign language), you may be eligible for this programme.

Language placement interviews

Some students who do not have an A-level in one of the languages they wish to study may nonetheless already have A-level-standard knowledge of the language (e.g., a student who took GCSE and then spent time in a country where the target language is spoken, before university). At the time of application, we will conduct a placement interview and task, to determine which route would be most appropriate for students who do not have an A-level in a language they wish to study.

International students

We welcome applications from international applicants, who wish to join the growing body of international students in our Department. We offer annual scholarships for overseas undergraduate students.

Entry requirements

A levels

Our typical offer is AAB, but some ABB offers will be made (see our typical offers page). We do not require any specific subject choices at A Level, and include all subjects in our standard offer.

International Baccalaureate

34 points

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma or QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD.

European Baccalaureate

80% overall average

Other qualifications

Pre-U: D3,D3,M2

Access to HE: Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 30 credits from units awarded Distinction and 9 from units awarded Merit or higher

Other qualifications are accepted by the University, please contact Undergraduate Admissions

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with 51 in all parts
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): grade A
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C
  • GCSE/O level English Language (as a first language): grade C

See also the University's information page for English language requirements.

Other options for this subject

We also offer French or Spanish on a variety of other four-year courses:

In addition, we offer each language on a number of three year programmes that do not include a year abroad:

Any questions?

Feel free to contact our admissions tutors:

Dr Tamar Keren-Portnoy, 
Dr Ann Taylor

More about York


The staff at York are inspiring, approachable and most of all, great at teaching languages.

Jacob, Spanish and Italian student. Read more on Jacob's blog.