Master in Modern Languages


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The MLitt in Modern Languages brings together the exceptionally broad fields of research interest in the School of Modern Languages, ranging from the medieval period to the present day and engaging with cultures spanning the world. This programme allows you to specialise in a specific language pathway and provides cohort-wide taught modules in relevant research methodologies and skills. 

Students who choose the MLitt in Modern Languages can study one or two of the following pathways:

  • French Studies
  • German Studies
  • Italian Studies
  • Middle Eastern Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Russian Studies
  • Spanish and Latin American Studies.


  • Deepen and expand your interests in at least one language specialism through dedicated modules and individualised guided reading programmes. 
  • Fifty full-time academic staff teaching in seven languages provide unusually wide discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary research, teaching, and supervision expertise.
  • Investigate cutting-edge Modern Languages research through involvement in the work of the School's research centres, interdisciplinary research groups and postgraduate student seminars.  
  • A diverse and international study body from across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, provides a global outlook. 

Course information

The MLitt in Modern Languages is a one-year taught programme run by the School of Modern Languages. Students on this MLitt choose to study one of the following language culture pathways:

  • French Studies: acquire advanced knowledge of the individuals, the artistic and scientific creations, the events, the wars and the revolutions that have shaped literature and culture in France and French-speaking lands from the Middle Ages to the present day. Research specialisms in the French Department include philosophy and literary theory, painting and poetry, women writing and life writing, erotic fiction and postcolonial literature, French and Francophone theatre as well as the interfaces of 19th-century culture and science in French and European contexts.
  • German Studies: develop your academic interests in German language societies and cultures from the Middle Ages to the present. Students work with academics who have expertise in a particularly wide range of research specialisms in German studies (medieval literature, the 19th century, realism, travel writing, historiography, queer studies, cultural memory, contemporary literature, film and visual culture).
  • Italian Studies: further your studies in a wide range of areas of Italian literature, culture and history. Students can bring training in theory and research methodologies to bear on the directed study of topics which reflect their own research interests. Staff research specialisms include modern and contemporary literature and film, 20th-century poetry, Renaissance literature and culture, Dante studies, postcolonial studies, Italian humanism and transnational modern languages.
  • Middle Eastern Literary and Cultural Studies: deepen your knowledge of classical and modern Arabic and Persian literature and cultures, including music and film, as a prelude to professional work in the arts and culture of the area or as a sound basis for progression to PhD study. The teaching is in English, but applicants must be fluent in either Arabic or Persian to be able to engage with a variety of cultural products taught in the programme. Students explore a broad range of subjects in Middle Eastern literary traditions (Arabic, Persian, Kurdish) before focusing on a subject, medium or genre of their choice.
  • Russian Studies: deepen your knowledge of the interrelated fields of Russian literature, film, culture and history to the present day. Students are taught by internationally acclaimed academics with an exceptionally wide range of expertise, including comparative literature, literary theory, poetry, crime fiction, gothic, realism, cultural memory, film, Russian avant-garde, Russian and Soviet theatre, celebrity, gender and queer theory in Russia.
  • Spanish and Latin American Studies: develop and enhance your knowledge of Hispanic literature, culture and history through textual study and theoretical reflection.
  • Students will encounter a wide range of research interests and expertise, including in Cervantes; Golden Age poetry; Latin American narrative and essay; modernism and avant-garde in Spain and Spanish America; gender, cultural memory and theatre censorship in Spain; twentieth and 21st-century Spanish poetry; Spanish historical grammar and sociolinguistics; modern and contemporary Catalan culture and literature. 

Students also have the opportunity to combine two pathways (for example, French and Italian Studies). 

Teaching format

The School promotes discipline-specific and collaborative teaching and learning so that students may explore their own particular interests in greater depth and breadth. 

Classes are delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Classes are intentionally small, with many being one-to-one or in very small groups. Lectures are usually in groups of up to 20. Modules are assessed through coursework; there are no final exams.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.


  • Literary and Cultural Theory (1): provides research training by exploring a range of literary and cultural theories through which texts may be conceptualised, criticised and analysed.
  • Literary and Cultural Theory (2): provides research training by exploring a range of literary and cultural theories through which texts may be conceptualised, criticised and analysed.


Optional modules are chosen in consultation with your supervisor to reflect the best mix of courses for your preferred specialism.

  • French Literary Revolutions: advanced knowledge of contexts that have shaped literature and culture in the French-speaking lands from the Medieval period to the present day.
  • German Literary and Cultural Contexts: Turning Points: advanced knowledge of contexts that have shaped literature and culture in the German-speaking lands from the Middle Ages to the present day. 
  • Italian Literary and Cultural Contexts: Italians: investigates how Italian identity has been constructed in cultural production from the 13th century to the present day.
  • Middle Eastern Literary and Cultural Contexts: provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of important elements of classical and modern Arabic and Persian literature and cultures from pre-Islamic times to the present.
  • New Approaches to the Russian Literary Canon: explores how the ‘Russian literary canon’ has been constructed over the past 200 years.
  • Patterns in Hispanic Literature and Film (40): a high-level introduction to research areas of Hispanic literature and film.
  • Research and Professional Skills: introduces students to a range of skills which are essential to advanced researchers and key to many other non-academic workplaces.

There are also specialised research modules in each of the language pathways.


Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date specified in August.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and, assuming you have attained appropriate grades, receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020 entry.

After the MLitt

Research degrees

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year residential Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in different modern languages.

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere.


Modern Languages postgraduates go on to careers in the academic field or in other areas, for example as cultural advisors, translators, or in the public or civil service.

Recent graduates have secured posts such as:

  • Consulting
  • Energy resource management
  • International development
  • Journalism
  • UN interpreting
  • Public policy
  • Publishing
  • The civil and diplomatic services
  • University academics and administrators

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a Modern Language or Comparative Literature in the relevant pathway subject. Secondary pathway subjects cannot be taken at the beginner's level. 
  • If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.
  • Personal statement (optional)
  • Sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
  • Two original signed academic references
  • Academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).


The School of Modern Languages offers a number of Masters-level funding opportunities each year. 

Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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