A world of languages
Discover a world of languages

Discover a world of languages

Whether you want to study for credit (as part of your degree programme), or just to learn a new skill, we offer one of the widest range of language courses of any UK university to all our students.

Learning a language demonstrates that you're a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas. Our courses can open the door to more careers in more places around the globe - employers love to see them on a CV! There are lots of other benefits too, from making the most of student exchange opportunities to enhancing your social life in Edinburgh. 

If you’ve got no language experience, it’s not a problem. Beginners are welcome. Explore our options and choose the way you want to learn.

Take a language as an optional subject

You don’t have to be doing a languages degree to study a language for credit at Edinburgh. In the first two years of many of our undergraduate programmes, you can study a language alongside the subject(s) you intend to graduate in. Not only will you get to grips with vocabulary, grammar and conversational skills, you’ll also explore language in its cultural context. Courses are worth up to 40 credits each and most are suitable for complete beginners!

Learn about Optional Courses / Outside Subjects

Open languages

Take an Open Languages Course

These courses are free to all University of Edinburgh students and can be taken at any stage of your undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme, including your honours years. Learning vocabulary, grammar and conversational skills, you’ll progress in speaking, reading and writing your chosen language(s). The courses are taught at various levels, including complete beginner. Each course lasts one semester and can be taken for 20 credits.

Learn about Open Languages

Short courses

Take a language as a Short Course

These courses are for all adult learners; anyone over 16. They’re run by the Centre for Open Learning and each lasts 10 weeks, with start dates in October, January and April. Through task-based learning, you'll develop your communication skills, particularly in listening and speaking your chosen language(s). As a matriculated student at the University of Edinburgh, you get 33% off! Look out for free taster sessions during Welcome Week.

Learn about Short Courses

New for 2023!

All suitable for complete beginners.

Catalan - 20 credits - SCQF Level 8 - course code ELCH08021

Dutch - 20 credits - SCQF Level 8 - course code ELCG08016 

Ukrainian - 20 credits - SCGF Level 7 - course code LLLO07006

Thinking about a degree in languages?

We teach lots of four-year honours degree programmes in languages and cultures. Single honours programmes enable you to specialise in one language; joint honours in two. 

We also teach languages to postgraduate level, either as part of a taught masters degree in subjects such as Translation Studies, or as a research programme - right up to PhD level.

Find out more about undergraduate study in literatures, languages and cultures

Find out more about postgraduate study in literatures, languages and cultures

Good to know

  • Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK, and 7th in the world, for Modern Languages in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.
  • We teach over 15 world languages to degree level (including all six official languages of the United Nations), and more as shorter courses. 
  • From acting to creative writing, peer support learning to joining a student society, there are lots of opportunities to develop your language skills outside the classroom.

Why languages?

"The UK has the potential to become a linguistic powerhouse. If it did, it would be more prosperous, productive, influential, innovative, knowledgeable, culturally richer, more socially cohesive, and, quite literally, healthier.” Languages in the UK – A call for action

The British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society (2019)