Modern and Medieval Languages

All undergraduates take two languages during the first two years of the degree (known as Part I), some continuing with two languages beyond A2 (or equivalent), others continuing with one A2 language whilst starting a new one (or developing a language which they haven't taken as far as A2). They then choose how to divide their time between these two languages during the two years of Part II (the Year Abroad and then the 4th year).

Emmanuel has a significant core of teaching fellows in Modern Languages specialising in French, German, Spanish and Latin American culture. While this provides the basis for a healthy and active community of Modern Linguists in College, and a source of ready expertise and guidance, significant numbers of our undergraduates study the other languages available on the degree course. Supervisions are organised by the Directors of Studies and, where possible, take place in College. In recent times, Emmanuel has enjoyed a particularly fine record of academic success in Modern Languages, even though it is not oversubscribed with applications. This strong sense of community amongst the linguists is witnessed at annual College events such as the MML dinner. Recent graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, such as the Foreign Office and Civil Service, BBC journalism, City law firms, teaching, the financial sector, PhDs in Cambridge and Harvard, and NGO development work. Many plant the seeds for these future careers through the choices they make about work placements during their Year Abroad (though others choose further study abroad or teaching).

One of the advantages of the very flexible Cambridge system is that it is possible, and indeed increasingly common practice, to take up a new language on arriving here, and provision is made for teaching ab initio students in all MML languages except French. Those most frequently taken up tend to be German, Spanish, Italian and Russian. At Emmanuel, we have had wide experience in teaching beginners and make every effort to help undergraduates go on language courses in the relevant country to accelerate their learning. College library provision is first-class, across the range of languages, and in their different disciplines: including language work, linguistics, literature, film, history and thought. The College is blessed with three different funds for assisting MML students who wish to travel or study in Europe and Latin America during vacations. It offers the William Coupe prize for best performance across language papers at part IB. Emmanuel also receives a French lecteur each year from the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, to assist in the teaching of the spoken language. Instruction from native speakers, as well as contact with the culture through audio-visual material, is of course provided in the other languages too. The Spanish Ministry of Education has recently made available assistance in this area.

The College has a specially-equipped audio-visual aids room, which gives students of modern languages 24-hour access to all the latest language-learning software on the faculty server, as well as allowing individual study of films and other audio-visual materials. It is also just around the corner from the University Language Centre.

Further information about the vast range of options available in MML can be explored from the Faculty Homepage. Rather than studying two modern European languages (from MML), it is perfectly possible to combine one such language with a classical language (usually Latin) or a language from Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (usually Arabic). It is also possible to combine Modern Languages with History.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*AA; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: A1A2A2; other exam systems.
Course Requirements: A-level (or equivalent) in at least one of the languages to be studied. The course page on the university website gives details of what subjects MML students have studied.
Course Outline: Further details are available on the Faculty's website. The Faculty also has a dedicated page for offer holders.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Submitted Work:

Applicants will be asked – following receipt of their application – to submit two pieces of written work from recent examples completed for school. These should be in essay format with a word limit of up to 2,000 words per sample; one essay should be in one of the languages you intend to study at University. The work can be extracted from coursework or an EPQ. All work must be original and not re-written or corrected for Cambridge. The deadline for submission will be early November.

Admissions Assessment:

All applicants, who are shortlisted for interview, will take a written assessment (discursive response in both a Foreign Language and in English). An assessment specification is available online. The College's Admissions Officer will register applicants for the assessment. Date of assessment: to be confirmed.


Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 9 - Wednesday 18 December 2024. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

Each interview will be with a pair of linguists, focusing on one of the languages for which you are applying. If you wish to continue with the languages you are already studying (for A-level or equivalent), you will be asked to read a passage (20-30 minutes prior to your interview) in each language and answer questions on it. Some portion of each interview will be conducted in the language concerned. For those who wish to study a language ab initio, you may be asked to answer questions on a passage (given to applicants 20-30 minutes before the interview) in English. In the course of the interviews, you should expect to be asked questions about your A-level courses and about any reading you have done, both for your AS/A2 courses and on your own initiative. If you wish to study a language ab initio, the relevant interview will have a different slant. It would help, however, if you have done some preparation on the language and literature (for example, reading in translation), or have more general knowledge about the country in which your chosen language is spoken.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office