Undergraduate study | Italian
Immerse yourself in the language and culture of Italy as part of a single or joint honours degree.
Why study Italian in Edinburgh?
Available in a fantastic range of degree combinations, Italian has been taught here since 1919, though it’s been part of our tradition for many years, as far back as the 18th century. The city of Edinburgh itself is twinned with Florence. Study with us and you’ll be part of a thriving community of people passionate about languages and cultures, benefitting from small class sizes, great resources and friendly staff.
The University of Edinburgh is unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working. If you are studying Italian with another language, you will divide your time between two countries, broadening your skills and experience.
One of the most attractive characteristics of our degree is its flexibility. As well as lots of joint honours combinations, your first two (pre-honours) years will give you the option to study other subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines.
From the University’s own Italian Society to the Italian Cultural Institute, you’ll find many places to develop your interest in one of the world’s great cultures, while enjoying the cinemas, theatres, libraries and galleries of one of its favourite festival cities.
The department form a really lively, lovely community, which is really exciting to be a part of, and it's also really possible to make Italian friends and speak Italian daily thanks to such an active Italian Society, and the fact that Scotland and Italy do have really strong historical connections with each other, and also the fact that there are lots of Italian students at Edinburgh.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Honours) degree. You can take Italian as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects, including other European languages, classics, and history of art.
- It doesn't matter whether you’re starting from scratch, or have some existing knowledge of Italian. Over the course of your four years, you’ll progress in all aspects of the written and spoken language, and acquire a good knowledge of Italian society, past and present, through cultural study.
Years 1 & 2
The first two years will provide a solid foundation in the Italian language, with classes streamed in the first year according to how much Italian you already know. Some of our second year courses are taught in Italian to help prepare you for your Italian experience on the Year Abroad.
Whatever your starting point, by the end of your second year you’ll also have had a literary introduction to Italy's culture and society.
- Whether you’re doing single or joint honours, you’ll do the same amount of Italian in these pre-honours years. You’ll gain the rest of your credits from partner subject courses, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses, of which single honours students take more. This choice and flexibility may enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- Your third year will typically be spent abroad, either studying or working, turning classroom learning into living engagement with other cultures. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Italy.
- If Italian is the only language you are studying, your Year Abroad will be in Italy. If you’re doing a joint degree with another language, you’ll divide your time and travel plans between your two languages.
- As well as developing advanced language skills in these years, you will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from, covering subjects like literature, cinema and politics, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
- You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, in the city’s historic centre. Our School has its own Study Resource Centre, in-house screening room and computing labs. The Main University Library is just across the square from us, and the nearby National Library of Scotland hosts a large collection of Italian manuscripts and books.
Teaching and learning
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials (including language classes) and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.
- Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association.
In the 2024 to 2025 academic year, you can take Italian as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|Italian and Spanish||French and Italian|
|Italian and Linguistics||Italian and English Language|
|Italian and English Literature||Italian and Politics|
|Italian and History of Art||Italian and History|
|Italian and Classics||Italian and Philosophy|
|International Business with Italian*|
* Please note that this degree combination does not have the same structure as all the others, though it is still a four-year degree with a study abroad element.
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Italian programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about:
- the courses you will take each year
- entrance requirements
- English language requirements
- fees and funding opportunities
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Applications for entry in September 2024 are now open.
Skills and experience
Studying one or more languages to degree level demonstrates that you're a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers call having Intercultural Competence.
Beyond the language skills you'll develop on our programmes, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Opportunities at home and away
With its long and rich history, Italy continues to thrive as a cultural and scientific powerhouse of the Mediterranean, with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any nation. It is a founding member of the European Union, a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, and the Council of Europe, and is an advanced economy with the eighth largest nominal GDP in the world.
Our graduates can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative - you do not have to be based in Italy to have a career in which the ability to understand and communicate in the language will make you stand out. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to career pathways in:
- Business, finance and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
- Education, outreach, advocacy and training
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
- Research, development and venture acceleration
- Translating and interpreting
The enhanced research skills you will develop on an Italian programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can study a Masters by Research degree in Italian, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, or Intermediality.
To understand a language properly you have to be aware of the cultural context: the same goes for art. My degree gave me the skills to independently investigate any culture of my choice and to be able to critically assess what is being communicated through both art and language.
QS World Rankings by Subject 2023
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.
We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages (7) and Arts & Humanities (10).
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - European Languages and Cultures
- Look inside 50 George Square
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
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