Modern European Studies BA


Fact file - 2017 entry

UCAS code:R906
Qualification:BA Hons
Type and duration:4 year UG (year 3 out)
Qualification name:Modern European Studies
UCAS code
UCAS code
Modern European Studies | BA Hons
4 years full-time/year 3 out (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
No language qualification is needed for an intensive beginners’ language programme, but you will need an A level in French, German, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish if you want to take two languages
IB score
32, including 5 at Higher Level or 6 at Standard Level (B Programme) in your chosen language(s) for post-IB level.
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places


This course gives you the opportunity to combine one or two modern languages with History and/or Politics.
Read full overview

Modern European Studies is available in three different branches: modern history and two modern languages; politics and two modern languages; or modern history, politics and one modern language. All three components have equal weighting in the degree.

Languages offered for this degree are: French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Portuguese (beginners or post-A level); and Slovene, and Serbian/Croatian (all beginners' only). Only one language can be taken at beginners' level. Please indicate on your UCAS form which combination of subjects you would like to study.

In addition to core language modules, you will select from a range of optional modules relating to the history, culture, politics, literature, film or linguistics of the languages you are studying. You will also select modules from a wide range of historical and/or political topics.

On graduation you will have achieved a high level of expertise in the language(s) you have studied and will be able to use these in social and professional situations. You will also have acquired understanding of European and world history and politics and will have developed sophisticated analytical skills. Your year abroad will demonstrate to potential employers that you are adaptable and independent.

Year one 

In the first year, you will take foundation level modules (including core language work) in whichever combination of three subjects you have chosen. If you are taking a beginners’ language, you will work intensively on a structured language programme to enable rapid progress

Year two 

You choose from a broader range of options within your three disciplines, including a choice of modules in linguistics, literature, history, politics and society and the media. In the language departments your skills will be consolidated to prepare you for the year abroad in year three.

Year three

You will divide your time between countries where your chosen language(s) are spoken. Depending on where your placement is, you could study at one of our exchange universities, teach on the British Council assistantship programme, or undertake a work placement with a company. 

For more information see our Year Abroad page.

Year four 

In addition to core language modules, you will choose from a range of optional modules in each discipline. You will use your language skills in increasingly sophisticated contexts, and study optional modules drawn from the areas of literature, history, politics, society, media and linguistics.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB. No language qualification is needed for an intensive beginners’ language pathway. You will need an A level or equivalent in French, German, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish if you wish to study two languages.

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

Students who require extra support to meet the English language requirements for their academic course can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) to prepare for their future studies.

Students who pass at the required level can progress directly to their academic programme without needing to retake IELTS.

Please visit the CELE webpages for more information.

Alternative qualifications 

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.


Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


This is a combined honours course, which means that you will study three subjects, equally weighted in the degree.

There are three combinations to choose from and there also a number of choices for language study.

You may study one or two languages on this degree. Only one language may be studied from beginners’ level. Language options are French, German, Portuguese, Spanish or Russian, which are available at post-A level or beginners’ level, and Dutch, Serbian/Croatian, Slovene, which are available at beginners’ level.

1 – Modern history and two modern languages 

You will study two 20-credit core history modules in the first year alongside your two core language modules. The rest of your choices will be made from a selection of core and optional modules related to your chosen languages. In subsequent years, you will choose optional history modules.

2 – Politics and two modern languages.

You will study four 10-credit politics modules per year alongside your core language modules. The rest of your choices can be made from a selection of core and optional modules related to your chosen languages.

3 -Modern history, politics and one modern language.

You will study four 10-credit politics modules and two 20-credit history modules per year alongside your core and optional language modules. From the second year you will choose optional modules in all three subjects alongside your core language module.

Typical Year One Modules

Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies (core)

This module introduces students to the principal areas and topics of Russian and Slavonic Studies, including relevant historical contexts to study the linguistic, cultural and literary developments of the Slavonic world; methodological and conceptual issues of Russian and Slavonic Studies; and specific technical skills (e.g. transliteration of the Cyrillic alphabet, analytical skills, writing skills, oral presentation skills, referencing of Slavonic sources).

Introduction to German Studies (core)

This module will provide an introduction to the study of German. It will cover the main fields of German Studies (literature, culture, history, linguistics, media) as well as the study skills required for academic study (critical and analytic skills, reading skills, presentation skills, writing skills).

Introduction to French and Francophone Studies (core)

This module will provide an introduction to the range of topics and study skills students will need and further develop in the course of their degree study of French and Francophone Studies. It will cover the main fields of the discipline, including linguistics, politics, history, thought, French and Francophone literature, media, visual culture and cinema. 

Learning History (core)

This module concentrates upon student conceptions of the subject and their strategies as learners, in order to enable them more effectively to monitor and develop their skills and understanding. 

Introduction to Literature in Spanish (core)

This is a core module, designed as a foundation for all other literary modules, in which students will read a series of key texts from the Peninsula and Spanish America. Its purpose is to impart an essential body of literary-historical and cultural knowledge relating to the main periods, genres and conventions of literature in Spanish from the Middle Ages to the modern period. 

Understanding Global Politics

This module introduced global politics through the major theoretical, historical and empirical ways of seeing international relations. Different claims about, for example, human nature, power, war, peace, the state, society, law and politics are offered by thinkers who exercise a major influence on our contemporary understanding. These claims contribute to different approaches to politics in a global context. 

Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1789-1945 (core)

In the first semester, the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789–1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.

Culture and Society of the Low Countries

This module will examine the development of the Netherlands and Belgium since the First World War. It is compulsory for students studying Dutch as part of their degree course and optional for students of German. You will study the period from 1945 to the present day; society in the Netherlands and Belgium; and aspects of Dutch and Flemish culture. You will have one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week in addition to four hours of private study.

History of the Low Countries
This module will introduce students to selected topics in the history of the Low Countries from the sixteenth century to the present day. It will focus on a number of key events and periods such as the fall of Antwerp in 1585, the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the Flemish Movement and the Second World War. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.

Typical Year Two Modules

Contemporary France & Globalisation

This module looks at contemporary French society in the context of an increasingly globalised culture and economy. The module analyses recent attempts to defend, redefine and adapt key aspects of French economic and cultural life in order to negotiate ways of living in an era of globalisation. The material in the module focuses on key debates around globalisation: the national and the ‘local’ versus the global; constructions of Frenchness in opposition to America; the decline of rural France; the contemporary redefinition and possible continued significance of established French values and cultural practices; and the problems associated with maintaining a distinctively French social model in the face of globalisation.

Caribbean Francophone Writing

In this introduction to literature in French from the Caribbean, you’ll study texts by authors from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and will combine discussion of the contexts with critical analyses of the texts themselves. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.

Civilization and Barbarism

You’ll explore some of the major themes of international relations using a variety of different sources including novels, essays, manifestos, treatise and film. Power and Order is the underlying theme linking together areas such as imperialism, emancipation, human rights, terrorism and torture among others. The interconnectivity between all of these areas and the sources will help you appreciate texts from the breadth of your studies. There will be 3 hours a week of seminars and lectures for this module.

Democracy and its Critics

You’ll examine the concept and organisation of democracy using primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates. You’ll consider the principles and arguments of democracy and its critics as well as the future for democracy in the context of accelerating globalisation. A variety of approaches and methods will be used to help you develop your skills for the study of political theory. You’ll have 3 hours a week of lectures and seminars studying this module.

De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History 1970-1990

The module examines the social and cultural impact of economic change in three traditional industrial regions in the UK, Germany and the US in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including Overlaps and differences between Contemporary History and the Social Sciences; Change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding; Political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures. 

Soviet State and Society

This module examines political, social, cultural and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to the collapse of the state in 1991. The course will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership change; methods of political rule; economic and social policy) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). It will pay particular attention to moments and sites of interaction between state and society. 

From Runes to ROFL: Language Change in the Germanic Languages

This module will introduce students to the history of the Germanic languages, from the earliest linguistic evidence up to the present day. We will investigate the major sound changes that distinguish Dutch, German and other Germanic languages like English from the rest of the Indo-European language family (which includes French, Greek, and many other European languages, as well as Sanskrit). You'll look at the process by which Dutch and German went their separate ways , ultimately emerging as two standardised languages in the 17th century. You'll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Reason and its Rivals from Kant to Freud

The module discusses a selection of theoretical approaches to modernity, beginning with Kant's assertion of individual reason as the founding stone of enlightened social organisation, and interrogations of that position in the work of Marx and Engels, Nietzsche and Freud. It will discuss historical views on such issues as the nature of the individual subject, different assessments of the social, political or moral contract, and views as to the role and fate of culture in that social organisation, as well as competing ideas of the status of reality as based in social or material conditions or the product of the will, drives, or ideology. 

History of Yugoslavia and Successor States since 1941

The aim of this module is to examine developments in the political, social and diplomatic history of Yugoslavia after 1941 leading towards an understanding of the reasons behind the collapse of the country and subsequent violence in the 1990s. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module. 

Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars to Putin

In this module you will acquire an in-depth understanding of developments in Russian society and culture as reflected in popular and influential films from the period 1900 to 2010. You’ll examine how films are constructed technically and develop skills in analysing cinema in its historical and social contexts. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Metropolis and Empire: Spain, Portugal and the Americas 1492-1898

This module examines the evolution of Spain, Portugal and their American colonies in the four centuries of Iberian colonialism between 1492 and the movements for independence in Latin America in the 19th century. 

Nations and Nation Building in the Lusophone World
This module is designed to give students of Portuguese an introduction to some of the major texts of the Portuguese-speaking world. The commonality of languages derives from the colonial experiences of the Portuguese Empire, which resonate through the cultures from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. The module will examine the ways in which ideas of nationhood and national identity have been expressed and constructed through the cultures of the Lusophone world. 

Typical Year Three Modules

You will divide your time between countries where your chosen language(s) are spoken. Depending on where your placement is, you could study at one of our exchange universities, teach on the British Council assistantship programme, or undertake a work placement with a company. 

For more information see our Year Abroad page.


Typical Year Four Modules

Politics and Drugs

This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem. The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined. 

Weapons of Mass Destruction

This module introduces a range of debates concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to give you an appreciation of the importance of the issue. The reasons for states to develop or acquire WMDs will be explored through core concepts such as deterrence, the security dilemma and organisation theory.  You will discuss whether WMDs are good or bad and if Britain should build a missile defence system among other topics. 3 hours a week are spent in lectures and seminars studying for this module.

Photography in French Culture

This module explores the significance of photography in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French culture through the study of a number of important historical and theoretical texts and relevant visual material. It focuses on four major historical and thematic areas: nineteenth-century debates about photography; the conception and use of photography in Surrealism; the role of photography in post-war French society; photography as a means of self-exploration and expression.

Individual and Society

You’ll explore the ways in which French social theory and fiction have thought through the changing nature of the individual and the self in society. You’ll spend two hours in lectures and workshops each week studying this module.

Brazilian Slave Society

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the centrality of the history of slavery in the study of Brazilian society and of the significance of Brazilian Slavery in both the transatlantic slave systems and slave societies in the Americas. The module introduces students to the different disciplinary approaches to the study of slavery in Brazil. This will require students to draw on comparative contexts of slavery across the Americas both thematically and theoretically.

The Petersburg Text

Through three hours of lectures and seminars each week, you’ll undertake an in-depth analysis of the Russian imperial capital, St Petersburg and its artistic representations. You will study the development of the image of St Petersburg in Russian poetry (Pushkin, Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelshtam) and prose (Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bely, Bitov) of both the 19th and 20th centuries. You’ll also be given a historical overview of the evolution of the legend of St Petersburg, its representations in folklore, and readings of its urban landscape.

Serbian and Croatian Cinema

Developing your ability in addressing the study of cinema, this module examines the ways in which themes, motifs and narrative structures of films combine to produce semantically complex interfaces through which they also reflect the cultural circumstances of their production. In an average week you’ll spend around six hours in lectures, seminars and film viewings. 

Civil War and Memory Wars in Contemporary Spain

The course will highlight the profoundly Spanish economic, political, social and cultural context in which the civil war arose and was fought. However, students will also be encouraged to view this period in Spanish history within a wider European context. Spain's fratricidal conflict was merely one episode - albeit an enormously significant one - in the longer 'European civil war' of the twentieth century. The problems facing Spain as it struggled to adapt to modernity, and the emergence of competing 'solutions' to these problems, mirrored similar developments across Europe. In the second half of the module, students will examine the recent politicisation of 'memory' of this period in Spanish history. 

The Missing Dimension: Intelligence and International History in the Twentieth Century

The history of secret intelligence was once called the ‘missing dimension’ in the study of politics and international relations. Today, it has established itself as a separate field of historical enquiry. This module will examine how the study of secret intelligence has informed and sometimes even altered our understanding of some of the major political and international crises of the twentieth century. You will spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.

The Second World War in Modern Dutch Fiction
This module will investigate narratives of the Second World War and its aftermath in the Netherlands and Belgium in the novels of Harry M

ülisch (1927-2010) and Hugo Claus (1929-2008), the two heavyweights of Dutch-language literature in the twentieth century. We will look at the historical background of the novels as well as their literary form, and analyse how they reflect both historical and contemporary attitudes to the Second World War in the Low Countries. 

The German Language in Social Media

Language is constantly changing and nowhere more so than on social media, where users constantly adapt their language to achieve their communicative goals and to overcome the lack of face-to-face contact with their communication partners. In this module we explore the ways in which the German language is used on various kinds of social media, and how this often differs from standard German. We study the state-of-the-art linguistic research into online communication and non-standard language use. At the same time, students carry out their own research, collecting and analysing data from various social media sources: because of the ever-evolving nature of online language use, this often involves investigating phenomena that are so new, they haven't been properly studied yet! On this module you have three hours of teaching per week alongside extensive private study (which doesn't just involve reading, but also data collecting and analysis): we spend one hour in a computer room collecting data to test a particular hypothesis followed by an hour in which we analyse the data; a third hour, later in the week, is spent learning about and discussing theories of online language use. There is a strong focus on small group work in the module: the in-class research and analysis are done in groups of three to five students, and then presented to the whole class.  



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.


Year abroad


You will divide your time between countries where your chosen language(s) are spoken. Depending on where your placement is, you could study at one of our exchange universities, teach on the British Council assistantship programme, or undertake a work placement with a company. 

For more information see our Year Abroad page.



You will have achieved a good command of the language or languages you have studied and be able to use these in a variety of social and professional situations. You will also have acquired understanding of European and world history and politics and will have developed sophisticated intellectual skills in analysing these fields. Your year abroad will demonstrate to potential employers that you are adaptable and independent.

Average starting salary 

Availability for employment and salary data for this school is not attainable due to a small sample size.* Please contact the school for guidance:


* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2013/14.

Careers Support and Advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.



Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

The University of Nottingham provides information and advice on financing your degree and managing your finances as an international student. The International Office offers a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course contains a period of study or work abroad between the second and final year of the degree programme. Students' language skills and cultural understanding are assessed through a mix of presentations and written assignments upon their return to Nottingham.

This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment. 

How to use the data


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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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