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BA International Relations and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year)

Why we're great

  • Great flexibility and choice: You can study up to four languages choosing between French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese from beginner or post-A level standard. Mandarin Chinese is available at beginner’s level.
  • You have access to some of the best minds in politics and the biggest names in the field.
  • Our study abroad opportunities include studying at a partner university, combining study and work experience, or taking up a British council assistantship

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: LR59
Duration: 5 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: LR59
Duration: 5 years
Start month: January
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk
Live chat

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About the course

Our BA International Relations and Modern Languages (including foundation year) is open to Home, EU and international students. It will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills.

This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study four academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module.

You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with the Department of Language and Linguistics. Beginning with an overview of international relations in your first year, from global political economy to studies of conflict of security, you then have a choice of topics to explore, such as:

  • Comparative politics
  • International political economy
  • Political theory
  • Politics of the Middle East

You also study up to two of the languages offered at Essex: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese, completing at least one language to Mastery level. Each of these languages is widely used in the business world, and can take you to a level of near-fluency, and so many of our graduates go on to develop successful global careers with international firms looking for language specialists.

We also offer a month-long summer course with fees paid for by us if you start a language from scratch via the intensive route.

We are one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK (REF 2014). We are also ranked among the top 50 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2017) for politics and international studies.

If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.

Study abroad

Our course offers three possibilities for your year abroad. The first allows you to study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them, and you pay no tuition fees for your time overseas.

The second option allows you to work as a language assistant, thereby acquiring valuable professional experience in an international context in addition to earning money.

Alternatively, you can study at a university abroad for one term in your third year, after which you work with an organisation in the same country. This unique experience helps you stand out when applying for jobs.

Whichever option you choose, your year abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Our expert staff

We have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.

Our modern languages staff are internationally renowned. Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. All our language teachers are native or bilingual speakers, we maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.

In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation, interpreting and subtitling, film and art, business, and culture.

Some of the biggest names in the study of government work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends

In our Department of Language and Linguistics and the School of Government you also have access to:

  • Two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
  • A new 20-position Interpreting Lab
  • Meet other linguists and practice your language skills at our Language Cafés
  • Experience world cinema at our Modern Languages film club
  • Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
  • Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
  • The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
  • Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
  • A dedicated study skills advisor in your first year for one-to-one advice
  • A personal tutor and peer mentor for every student
  • We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis

Your future

Companies and organisations in the UK and abroad are struggling to find university graduates who are fluent in at least one other language, apart from English.

Being an Essex modern languages graduate places you in a very advantageous position. You will be able to speak and write fluently, or to a very competent standard, in up to four languages Each of the languages we teach are widely used in the business world, and so many of our graduates are recruited by international firms looking for language specialists, and go on to develop successful global careers.

Our graduates become teachers, translators, administrators and journalists. Their valued language skills have enabled them to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism, as well as for a host of UK and international companies. In particular, a degree in modern languages lends itself to a career in education, translation, interpretation, trade, PR, communications, immigration or diplomacy.

For example, one of our recent graduates now teaches English for the British Council, whilst another works internationally with NATO.

We also work with the University’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory modules and options chosen from lists. Below is just one example of a combination of modules you could take. For a full list of optional modules you can look at the course’s Programme Specification.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change.

The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department and we are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language. The structure shown below is an example of the progression for a student who has an A Level or equivalent in Spanish, but it is possible to start at an initial level with no prior knowledge of Spanish. Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.

In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.

Year 0

Britain has experienced unprecedented changes in the last 100 years. What has brought about these changes and how have they affected the Britain of today? This course will outline political, economic, social and cultural change in the UK during the Twentieth Century and beyond and offer an insight into Britain’s place in the modern world.

Want to study Hamlet? And contemporary works by Angela Carter or Kazuo Ishiguru? Interested in World War One poetry? Study a range of drama, poetry and prose fiction. Describe, analyse and reflect on key texts from Shakespeare to the present day. Become familiar with the crucial terms for assessing literature.

How did Plato and Aristotle influence Western political thought? How do you study class or gender today? What impact does globalisation have? Examine the history of social and political theory, critically analysing current issues. Understand key topics in politics and sociology for further study of the social sciences and humanities.

What can we know? How should we live? Study two important areas of philosophy – epistemology and ethics. Examine the work of key thinkers and understand the major themes in Western philosophy. Analyse contemporary issues using philosophical arguments. Become confident in the expression of your own thoughts and ideas.

Academic Skills covers the key areas that you will experience during your degree, preparing you for aspects of academic study at undergraduate level. The module enables you to develop and enhance your existing abilities by focusing on the core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in an academic context. It does this with both generic texts and also, crucially, those related to your subject area. Academic Skills provides strategies for successful communication and interaction through independent and collaborative learning offering opportunity to further enhance your research skills. The content is designed to ensure that you acquire a range of transferable employability and life skills.

Year 1

How do we forge, manage, and maintain better relationships between nations? How do relationships between countries affect the decision-making of governments? You study specific historical events including the two world wars and the cold war, as well as contemporary issues including security issues, nuclear technology, and drone warfare.

What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.

Want to learn Spanish from scratch? And spend four weeks abroad during the summer? Build your language abilities, so you can read short stories or novels in Spanish, as well as articulate your ideas verbally or in writing. Undertake a research project, in Spanish, on a topic of your choosing.

How do you put an end to armed conflict? What are the benefits and consequences of intervention? Explore issues in international relations which help address complicated questions concerning cooperation and conflict between countries.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Year 2

How should we approach relationships between different countries? Explore different theoretical lenses through which the world can be viewed, including realist, liberalist, and post-positivist theories of the behaviour of international political actions.

Understand the evolving field of conflict resolution through exploring the causes and effects of armed conflict across the world, and scrutinising the theory and practice of how this can be managed peacefully.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in French? Develop your university-level French language skills, improving your aural comprehension while boosting your grammar knowledge and vocabulary. Learn to appreciate, summarise and evaluate a piece of text. Expand your understanding of French culture and society.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Spanish? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of Spanish and Latin American culture and history through the use of texts, films and conversations with native speakers.

Why do International Organisations (IOs) have authority in international affairs? Why does the state delegate certain tasks to IOs rather than dealing with these outside of an institution? How effective are IOs in socialising states to behave in certain ways? Explore the theories, methods and case studies which allow you to analyse and assess the role of IOs.

Contemporary interaction between the Middle East and the West highlights the importance of understanding the history and political thought surrounding this interaction. Consider the impact of colonialism, nationalism pan-Arabism, Arab-Israeli conflicts, the politics of oil and water, and political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Final year

Prepare a 10,000 word dissertation which researches the political topic you are most passionate about.

Question party motivations, electoral strategies, ideologies and leaderships in Britain and Europe as you explore the changing nature and role of political parties in advanced liberal democracies.

Want near-native level competence in Spanish? Wish to deal quickly and precisely with written or spoken documents? Refine your knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary by studying different texts. Practice your writing with essays and reports, and learn to express yourself clearly in complex situations.

Want Final Honours level competence in French? Wish to deal quickly and precisely with any written or spoken document? Refine your knowledge of French grammar and vocabulary to near-native level comprehension. Undertake collaborative research into topical issues, and consolidate your understanding of French culture.

What are your skills? And how do they fit in with your career plans? Build your employability skills through this non-credit bearing but obligatory module. Attend workshops and events, engage in activities to raise your employability and build your knowledge of the graduate job market.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • State-of-the-art technologies and materials create an ideal learning environment
  • Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
  • Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature
  • Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
  • Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships

Assessment

  • Languages assessed through role-plays and translations
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year
  • If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: DDD, or equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A-levels.

To study Portuguese as your major language, you need an A-level pass (or equivalent) in Italian, Spanish or Portuguese or fluency in Italian, Romanian or Spanish

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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