What and how you'll study

Degree combinations, teaching methods, and a year-by-year guide to your learning.

Degree combinations

Whether you’re starting from scratch, or have some existing knowledge of Italian, you can study it to degree level with us.

We are unique among Modern Languages departments in Scotland in offering both single and joint honours language degree programmes which all take four years to complete, including a year abroad.

If you’d like to take Italian as part of a joint honours degree, we have a wide range of other subjects for you to choose from, including modern and classical languages. You can study any of the following combinations...

Italian Italian and Spanish French and Italian Italian and Linguistics
Italian and English Literature Italian and English Language Italian and Politics Italian and Classics
Italian and History Italian and History of Art

Italian and Philosophy

International Business with Italian*

One of the most attractive characteristics of the MA degree at the University of Edinburgh is its flexibility, not only in terms of degree combinations, but because - in the first two (pre-honours) years - you’ll likely get to choose other outside subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines. This may enable you to change the focus of your degree, if you discover that your outside subject is one that you want to take on into the final two (honours) years.

* 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.

Teaching and assessment

Our small class sizes and friendly staff make it easy to get to know your tutors, creating a supportive learning environment. Our staff are highly research-active, passing on their passion and expertise for their subject to you.

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and computer-assisted learning in lecture theatres, classrooms, our in-house screening room and computing labs. Our School has its own Study Resource Centre, 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.

You’ll be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework, and there are lots of support systems to help you with your learning, from your Personal Tutor to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC.

The Students’ Association is also a great source of advice on Peer Learning and Support, and its Tandem Language Exchange Programme was recently voted the inaugural winner of the Student Collaboration Award.


You’ll study Italian for four years, taking courses worth 120 credits each year*.

Years one and two

The first two years will provide a solid foundation in both the Italian language (written and spoken) and culture, with classes streamed according to how much Italian you already know.

Compulsory courses also provide a fresh literary introduction to Italy's culture and society throughout its long and rich history.

Some of our second year courses are taught in Italian to help prepare you for your Italian experience on the Year Abroad.

You’ll gain the rest of your credits from compulsory courses for your partner subject, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses. Outside courses are chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh, and single honours students take more of them.

Year three

You’ll spend your third year abroad, either in full or in part in Italy, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Italian culture.

You will spend a minimum of 30 weeks abroad. If Italian is the only language you are studying, these 30 weeks will be spent in Italy. If you’re doing a joint degree with another language, you’ll divide your 30 weeks between your two languages, spending at least eight weeks in a country relevant to each language.

The University has Erasmus+ exchange places in a variety of different universities, including in the cities of Venice, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Verona and Catania. Or you might opt to do a teaching assistant placement, or other work placement, instead. Whether studying or working, our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Italian language and culture.

During your year abroad, we will maintain contact with you, to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your language learning, and to prepare you for your return to Edinburgh. You will be given a distance-learning language course that leads in to the language course you will take in fourth year.

Year four

In your final year, you’ll refine your skills with specialist language tuition in translation, writing skills and oral communication.

You’ll also take option courses taught by research-active experts. We have a wide range of courses covering the Middle Ages to the present day, so you'll be able to choose your Italian options according to your interests in different periods and topics, including literature, politics, and the arts.

If you’re doing a joint degree, you’ll take option courses for your partner subject too.

You’ll be expected to engage with research by writing either a dissertation (approximately 6,000 words), or long essay (approximately 3,000 words) in your target language, depending on your degree combination. This is your chance to focus on a subject that’s of particular interest to you and must involve independent research, but you’ll be supported by one or more members of our academic staff.

You can look in-depth at current courses on our Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study.

Find out more and apply

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. There’s lots of information about the application process on the University of Edinburgh website, including detailed entrance requirements and fees.

Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on how to apply for undergraduate study

Related links

Read our feature about Support for Success in LLC