Undergraduate study | Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Take a single honours degree in either Spanish or Portuguese, combine both in a joint degree, or take either with one of a wide range of other subjects.
Why study Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in Edinburgh?
The many countries in which Spanish or Portuguese are spoken have fascinatingly rich and varied cultures.
Studying one or both languages with us is your gateway to an extraordinary range of literature, film and theatre from Europe, Africa and the Americas, explored in its historical context, from medieval to contemporary times.
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 Spanish and Portuguese, or either one 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. You can also opt to study Catalan.
On campus and in the city
We are based in the historic heart of a world-leading festival city, close to the National Library of Scotland and National Museum of Scotland.
The Main University Library is just across the square from us. Its collections include around 27,000 books and 5,000 journals in Spanish and 5,000 books and 2,680 journals in Portuguese.
The Spanish Society is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. Love to write? Our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your work and meet other writers in European languages.
In addition to the summer and winter festivals, Edinburgh has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene. Its world cinema scene is particularly strong, and we are proud to contribute to this success through the annual Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival and collaborations with Africa in Motion and IberoDocs.
Spain has a consulate in Edinburgh (Portugal an honorary consulate), and there are large communities of Spanish and Portuguese speakers.
The wonderfully helpful and passionate staff I have had the opportunity to learn from during my degree programme at the University of Edinburgh have been truly invaluable and in combination with the captivating and challenging course content, there is no doubt that by the end of my degree I will have developed a strong linguistic skill set essential for my future.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Honours) degree. You can take a single honours programme in either Spanish or Portuguese, combine both languages in a joint honours programme, or study either language with one of a wide range of other subjects.
- It doesn't matter whether you’re starting from scratch, or have some existing knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese. Over the course of your four years, you’ll progress in all aspects of the language(s) - both written and spoken - alongside cultural study.
Years 1 & 2
The first two years will provide a solid foundation in your chosen language(s).
You'll also study literature and culture, such as film, theatre, poetry and novels of the Portuguese and/or Spanish-speaking worlds.
In Year 1, Spanish courses are streamed according to how much of the language you already know. In Year 2, they are taught in Spanish to prepare you for your Year Abroad.
Portuguese is not streamed in Year 1; all levels of prior experience are catered for on the one course.
In Year 2, it is possible to study Catalan (both language and culture).
- 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.
- If Spanish is the only language you are studying, your Year Abroad will be in Spain or Latin America. If Portuguese is the only language you are studying, your Year Abroad will be in Portugal, Latin America or Portuguese-speaking Africa.
- If you’re doing both languages, or a joint degree with another language, you’ll divide your time and travel plans between them.
- 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, ranging from the literatures, cultures and art of the Iberian Peninsula, to those of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Portuguese-speaking Africa.
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 either Spanish or Portuguese as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|French and Spanish||French and Portuguese||Spanish and Portuguese|
|German and Spanish||German and Portuguese||Spanish and Business|
|Italian and Spanish||Russian Studies and Spanish||Spanish and Classics|
|Arabic and Spanish||Chinese and Spanish||Scandinavian Studies and Spanish|
|Spanish and Politics||Portuguese and English Literature||Portuguese and English Language|
|Spanish and English Literature||Portuguese and Linguistics||Spanish and History|
|Spanish and Linguistics||Portuguese and Philosophy||Spanish and History of Art|
|Spanish and Philosophy||Portuguese and Scottish Literature||Law and Spanish*|
|International Business with Spanish*|
* Please note that these degree combinations do not have the same structure as all the others, though they are still four-year degrees with a study abroad element.
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Spanish and Portuguese 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
Completing a degree programme in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies demonstrates that you're a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.
Beyond the language skills you will develop on our programmes, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of diverse cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.
The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate complex concepts, and to manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project, both independently and as part of a group.
Opportunities across sectors
Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers.
Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work 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
Home and away
With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.
Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.
If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that Spanish and Portuguese are your gateway to a great many countries and cultures in Europe, Africa and the Americas. They are both on the list of the world’s ten most widely-used languages and between them are spoken by around 700 million people.
My studies directed me in the way of South America when I studied Latin American literature, particularly the stories of Jorge Luis Borges, which pioneered a form of fiction writing that I had never come across before. This fired my imagination and in my third year I set off for Chile on a journey that led me to Brazil where I became involved in human rights work for more than two decades.
Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.
As part of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), we have a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.
You can book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews, access a range of online resources, and attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival.
Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.
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, we typically offer a one-year Masters by Research programme in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, which could then lead to a PhD.
Our interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically include:
- Comparative Literature
- Translation Studies
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
Talk to a current student
Other ways to learn Spanish or Portuguese at Edinburgh
If you're not on one of our degree programmes, you can still learn Spanish or Portuguese with us!
As an undergraduate student of most subjects at the University of Edinburgh, you can take Spanish or Portuguese as an outside subject in one or both of Years 1 and 2 of your programme, depending on your timetable.
You can also take courses in Catalan and Basque. You don't need any prior knowledge of any of the languages.
Spanish is available to all students (undergraduate and postgraduate) as an Open Language Course and - through the Centre for Open Learning - as a Short Course, with options for complete beginners. There are also Short Courses in Portuguese.