Our BA International Relations and Modern Languages (including foundation year) is open to Home and EU 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 and Portuguese, 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 abroad with fees paid for by us if you start a language from scratch via the intensive route.
We are 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 40 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings  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.
Our course offers two 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.
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.
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.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
You can also undertake a placement year abroad in which you will gain real world experience of living and working in another country, fully immersed in its language and culture. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
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 experts in their field and all 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.
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:
- 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
- Extra-curricular activities are available through student societies
- 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
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 two 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 Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Great flexibility and choice: You can study up to two languages choosing between French, German, Italian and Spanish from beginner or post-A level standard, and Portuguese from post A-level standard.
- You have access to some of the best minds in politics and the biggest names in the field.
- Our study abroad opportunities with full immersion into the language and culture include studying at a partner university, an overseas work placement or undertaking a British Council Language Assistantship
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
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.
- 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
- You’re assessed through a combination of coursework (assignments, essays and tests) and end-of-year examinations.
- Other assessment methods include quizzes, presentations, portfolios, group work, and projects.