Undergraduate study | Russian
Learn Russian and explore literature and culture as part of a single or joint honours degree.
Why study Russian in Edinburgh?
Spoken by millions of people in Europe, Central Asia and beyond, Russian is the language of some of the most iconic literary and cultural works in history. Study it with us, and you’ll learn the language while exploring its social, cultural and political contexts.
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 Russian and 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.
You'll typically be based in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area in a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. These include outstanding Russian-language holdings in both the University's Main Library and the National Library of Scotland. We are the oldest Russian department in Scotland and our University has a range of student societies for Russian speakers and cultural enthusiasts.
Studying Russian at Edinburgh has been wonderful. The environment in the department is really friendly and welcoming, and teachers are very supportive and helpful in working with you to explore the parts of the subject that you find interesting.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Honours) degree. You can take Russian Studies as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects.
- It doesn't matter whether you’re starting from scratch, or have some existing knowledge of Russian. Over the course of your four years, alongside the written and spoken language, you'll acquire a good knowledge of the Russian-speaking world, past and present, through cultural study.
Years 1 & 2
The first two years will provide a solid foundation in the Russian language (both written and spoken), with classes streamed in the first year according to how much Russian you already know. You'll also study Russian culture.
- Whether you’re doing single or joint honours, you’ll do the same amount of Russian 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, 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 Russian.
- If Russian is the only language you are studying, your Year Abroad will be spent studying in a country where Russian is spoken, either at a university or a language centre. 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.
Going on a year abroad looks great on your CV. Most of the graduate schemes based abroad require a minimum of a year’s experience living in a foreign country. Such skills as adaptability and great communication are always a plus, and chatting about your year abroad will definitely help you stand out amongst other applicants.
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 Russian Studies as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|French and Russian Studies||German and Russian Studies||Russian Studies and Spanish|
|Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies||Chinese and Russian Studies||Russian Studies and English Literature|
|Russian Studies and English Language||Russian Studies and Linguistics||Russian Studies and Philosophy|
|Russian Studies and History||Russian Studies and History of Art||Russian Studies and Classics|
|Russian Studies and Politics||Russian Studies and Social Policy|
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Russian Studies 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
Around 150 million people in the world speak Russian, which plays an important role in global cultural and political contexts. It is the official language of four countries, is widely understood throughout Eastern Europe, and in the last thirty years has seen transnational mobility on an unprecedented scale. There are, for example, large communities of Russian-speakers in China, the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Norway and the UK.
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 a Russian-speaking country 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 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 a four-year 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 Russian Studies, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, or Intermediality.
My office works closely with Russia to reduce the amount of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium in civilian use worldwide. Despite other difficulties in the U.S.-Russian relationship, our cooperation remains strong in this area. My studies in LLC, including my year in Russia, have allowed me to support work, negotiations, and other engagement with our Russian-speaking partners around the world.
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.
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Statement on Ukraine
We join our colleagues in the sector in condemning the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Government. Our thoughts are with Ukrainian people and their family members in Edinburgh and beyond.
As global dynamics shift, an appreciation of other languages and cultures becomes ever more relevant, critical and sought after. In times of great turmoil and suffering in particular, many works of literature and culture have called for justice, humanity and compassion and these will continue to be our sources and inspiration in our teaching and research.