This course allows you to discover both the theory and practice of language, as you investigate questions concerning how children and adults learn languages, what language can tells us about the mind, or the impact that language has on culture; and in tandem with this, you learn a new language yourself.
Unlike other English Language courses in the UK, our focus is not on the history of language, but on the contemporary use of English – on the way that we use language, and the ways in which language is changing. You come to understand the nature of a human social life through your study of language, exploring topics including:
- The use of English in in formal and formal settings
- The relationship between language and society
- The structure of the English Language
- The acquisition of English
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 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’. We are also ranked 11th in the UK for Linguistics in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021).
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 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, studying 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
Our staff are internationally recognised for their language research (REF 2014). Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. 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 theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistics.
- Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
- Our ‘Visual World’ Experimental Lab records response times and eye movements when individuals are presented with pictures and videos
- Our Eye-Tracking Lab monitors eye movement of individuals performing tasks
- Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
- Our Linguistics Lab has specialist equipment to analyse sound
- Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Sanako and 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
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. Language skills are in scarce supply and can be used in almost any job.
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 is now a newspaper editor in Spain, while another teaches modern languages in Southampton.
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 four languages choosing between French, German, Italian and Spanish from beginner or post-A level standard. Mandarin Chinese is available at beginner’s level.
- We specialise in developing translation, interpreting and subtitling skills at undergraduate level using the latest technology in our multimedia labs.
- Our study abroad opportunities 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 compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. The nature of this course is such that your individual programme will differ depending upon your pre-existing language qualifications/ the language(s) you choose to study during your course.
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
- Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
- 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
- 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.