Modern European Studies BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Hons Modern European Studies
UCAS code
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, 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, studying history and two modern languages; politics and two modern languages; or politics, history and one modern language. All three components have equal weighting in the degree.
Read full overview

The languages offered for this degree are: French, Spanish, German, and Russian (beginners' or post-A level); and Portuguese and Serbian/Croatian (beginners' only). Only one language can be taken at beginners' level.

In your language course(s), you will study core language modules and select from a range of optional modules relating to the history, culture, politics, literature, film or linguistics of the languages you are studying. In history and/or politics you 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. Your language studies will consolidate your skills 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. 

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.

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, Russian or Spanish if you wish to study two languages.

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

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.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

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, Russian or Spanish, which are available at post-A level or beginners’ level, and Portuguese or Serbian/Croatian, which are available at beginners’ level.

You can choose to study history and two languages as equally weighted subjects. This means that 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.

You can also combine politics and two modern languages as three equally weighted subjects. This means that 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.

You can also choose to study history, politics and one modern language as three equally weighted subjects. This means that you will study four 10-credit politics modules and two 20-credit history modules per year alongside your core and optional language modules.

No matter what your chosen combination of subjects, from the second year onwards you will choose optional modules in all three subjects, alongside your core language module(s).

Typical year one modules

Introduction to French and Francophone Studies 

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. 

Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies

This module introduces students to important areas and topics in Russian and Slavonic studies, examining important aspects of the histories and cultures of the region, as well as aspects of the languages, cultures and literary traditions. You will learn to analyse a wide range of cultural phenomena, including pictures, music, film, literary texts and other kinds of written sources.

Introduction to German Studies 

This is the core module for first year students of German. We look at the history of German and introduce you to the linguistic study of the language, and at a range of themes and styles in German literature linked to key areas of German and Austrian culture, such as gender relations, migration, and race. Further topics address the study of German film, and German history with a focus on recent history since German reunification in 1990. The module gives students insight into the different areas we teach and also the skills to explore these areas in more depth in subsequent modules.


Introduction to Lusophone Societies and Cultures

The Portuguese speaking-world is made up of people on four different continents; Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and there are eight countries in which Portuguese remains the official language. The spread of the language is a representation of the reach of the Portuguese Empire at its height as well as a reflection of the legacy of Lusophone cultures. This module provides students with the opportunity to learn about the diversity of cultural practices and social relations in the different parts of the world where Portuguese is spoken. The module covers the major social and cultural practices from modern Lusophone societies, including aspects of popular culture such as football and soap operas, but also cultural and artistic currents in literature and film. Questions of social relations and identity are also examined through a consideration of religious practice and religious expression, as well as themes of conflict, crisis and revolution through formations of political identity and political mobilisation. 


The Clash of Empires: Introduction to Balkan Cultural Identities

This module introduces you to the cultural history of South Slavs and the legacy of great empires such as the Ottomans, and the Habsburgs on the Balkan peninsula. By focusing on the visual cultures of the three key religious traditions – Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Islamic – the module explores the common features and differences in alphabet, architecture, sculpture and painting across the region. You will learn how living under empires informed the self-understanding of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and other South Slav nations.

Introduction to Literature in Spanish 

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. 


Learning History 

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. 


Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1789-1945 

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.

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. 


Political Theory from Ancient to Modern

This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment).

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.


Francophone Africa: Exploring Contemporary Issues through Culture

Through literature, film and popular culture, you’ll explore a range of political and social issues relevant to contemporary sub-Saharan Francophone Africa. Spending around two hours a week in lectures and seminars, you’ll be given an overview of the history of the French language in Africa and introduced to the range of varieties of French spoken there today.


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. 


Race, Rights and Propaganda: The Superpowers, the Cold War, and the Politics of Racial Identity, 1945-89

The Cold War was a conflict defined as much by intellectual and cultural struggle as by conventional military means, diplomacy, or realpolitik. Conceptions of race and identity were by no means immune from this, but heavily disputed and contested in the political environment of the Cold War. This module examines how the two superpowers dealt with issues of race and identity during the Cold War years, confronting questions and challenges from both within their own borders (and each other’s) and in several theatres of superpower conflict - including the Middle East, East Asia and post-colonial Africa. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.


 Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900

The module introduces students to study of how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). It focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. Topics addressed may include railway travel, the bourgeois home, photography, slum literature and museum culture.


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 three hours a week of seminars and lectures for this module.


Comparative European Politics

This module aims to provide students with a systematic introduction to current debates in the comparative analysis of European politics. The module adopts a thematic approach and focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party systems and representation, elections and voting behaviour, party competition and government formation, executive-legislative relations, as well as emerging fields of interest, such as political participation, extreme right politics, immigration, political corruption and the political and social challenges of globalisation and European integration. The diverse experiences of liberal democracy in European countries and the political and social changes that they have undergone are discussed thematically in the seminars. In the seminars, a country-expert system is used whereby students are assigned a particular country to cover. The module covers both long-established democracies in Western Europe and newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. 

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. 

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.

Typical year four modules

The Everyday in Contemporary Literature and Thought 

From the 1930s onwards the French sociologist Henri Lefebvre argued that theorists who wanted to understand the political and ideological dimensions of life had neglected the sphere of the everyday. The module looks at the various ways in which the novel has evolved and adapted to “the contemporary” by responding to the “everyday”. Giving an overview of the various approaches to the everyday in the contemporary novel from the 60s to the present, this module will explore how key authors negotiate, through their writing, the everyday’s indeterminacy and the unstable space it occupies between the social and the individual. You will spend two hours a week in lectures and seminars on this module.


Citizenship, Ethnicity and National Identity in Post-War France

You’ll examine the range of social, political and philosophical questions raised by mass immigration to France in the post-war period. These questions will be tackled through historical analysis of patterns of migration and changing immigration policies, as well as through the study of relevant films, novels and theoretical texts. You’ll spend two hours each week in lectures and seminars studying this module.


Mythology in German Literature

Literature uses ancient mythology as a rich source to describe powerful emotions, cunning politics or psychological drama. This module will explore how selected German writers engage with the myth of Medea, the powerful wife of Jason who - according to the Classical myth - kills the sons she loves to hurt Jason. We will look at how the myth is used, changed and reinvented in texts written between 1926 and 1998. We will consider theoretical writings on mythology and also look at the Medea myth in paintings, film, theatre and music.


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.


Myths and Memories: Histories of Russia's Second World War

This module introduces you to the construction of national and collective memory of the Second World War in Soviet and Russian culture and society. You’ll focus on contemporary and subsequent artistic and social responses to the experience of war, but also look at individual acts of remembering (diaries, reports, letters) in the context of a wider cultural memory. The module is conducted in English and you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.


Russian Popular Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries 

The module offers an in-depth study of the development of popular music in Russia in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will gain knowledge of the popular musical culture of the late tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and learn to analyse songs and performances using such concepts as authorship, performance, technology and ideology. You will have one lecture and one two-hour seminar per week on this module.

Serbian and Croatian Cinema

This module focuses on the representation of Balkan Roma in Serbian and Croatian cinema. It examines the ways in which the themes, motifs and narrative structures of films combine to produce semantically complex interfaces through which they also reflect the cultural circumstances of their production. The films examined include feature films and documentaries. Students learn to apply theories from film studies (montage, framing and acting) and cultural theory (including postcolonialism and trauma studies) and also learn about Romani life and culture. 


Politics and Literature in Contemporary Spain

Through the comparative analysis of a first set of cultural artifacts produced by authors born circa 1950 and a second set produced by authors born circa 1968, this module will focus on the articulation between aesthetics and politics in Spanish writing at the extended end of the twentieth-century. The works will be studied in the context of recent Iberian history and related to other contemporary forms of expression such as cinema, music and cyber-writing. 


Business and Society in Spain

This module explores Spanish business from both a historical and contemporary perspective. It begins by looking at changes in the social, economic, political and technological environment for business since the transition to democracy and assesses their impact on the composition of the private sector in Spain. The main themes include the economic legacy of dictatorship, changes in the global and European regulatory environment, the influence of neoliberal thinking, the role of entrepreneurship, the relationship between state and business and Spanish business’ response to the spread of the knowledge economy and rapid technological change. The module also looks at recent challenges to business in Spain. In particular, it explores the impact of the economic crisis on the private sector, the criticism of business’ involvement in a number of high-profile corruption scandals and proposals emanating from new political formations such as Podemos aimed at increasing state regulation of the private sector. Finally, the module analyses new social innovations and practices that are challenging business’ pre-eminence in the production and distribution of goods and services in Spain. In doing so, it reveals a diverse and vibrant landscape that integrates a range of practices including co-operativism, social markets and community currencies.


Communicating and Teaching Languages for Undergraduate Ambassadors

This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools as teaching assistants and to act as role-models (for more information please check Students split their time between the university-based support seminar and their allocated school, where they will work in the language department as an assistant. This may involve one-to-one tuition, small group teaching or extra-curricular activities in the context of the school’s language provision. Students will develop a special teaching project and will be supported in their activities by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and their contact teacher at the school. Typically there will be a fortnightly seminar on campus and seven half-days spent at school. This module is especially suitable for students with prior experience as a language assistant during the year abroad.


The 1960s and the West, 1958-1974

This module surveys and analyses social and cultural change in the West during the `long Sixties' from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. You will study the origins and nature of changes in norms of behaviour in the 1960s such as the sexual revolution, attitudes to authority, and the role of youth in society, as well as the impact of wider historical developments such as post-war economic prosperity and the Cold War. The module places emphasis on looking at the experiences of ordinary people while acknowledging the role of major leaders. You will also look at the representation of the decade in popular culture, both in the 1960s and in subsequent decades. 


Italy at War, 1935-45

Spending three hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935-45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences.


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. 


Parliamentary Studies

The module identifies and evaluates the role that Parliament plays in the political system. The module is both descriptive and analytical, comprising an introduction to Parliament (such as its place in the political process, the impact of party) and an investigation into the effectiveness or otherwise of its scrutiny and influence of selected sectors of government responsibility. It covers the process of legislation, scrutiny, and links with the public. The module also considers the role of the House of Lords.


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. 

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.



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 

In 2016, 94.2% of undergraduates in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,336 with the highest being £31,000.* 

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

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.  


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

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


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

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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