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, Latin America and Africa, 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 and Basque.
International culture flourishes here, with a Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies, numerous Hispanic student societies, and a creative writing magazine for European Languages. Our in-house Portuguese Language Centre is sponsored by the Camões Institute, and we have very close links with local schools, the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh and the Etxepare Basque Institute.
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) or Basque.
- 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. Examples include 20th Century Latin American Women's Writing, The Spanish Newspaper Column by Writers, Literary Translation in Practice, Postcolonial African Literature in Portuguese, and Literature and Society in the Golden Age of Spain.
- You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with fantastic cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, and established communities of Spanish and Portuguese speakers. The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival was started by our staff and, now in its seventh year, is a regular fixture in the city’s extensive cultural calendar.
- 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 National Library of Scotland is close by.
Learning, assessment and support
- Language learning involves developing professional speaking and writing skills, as well as translation techniques.
- Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and e-learning exercises.
- At all levels, you’ll have the opportunity to meet regularly with teaching staff to discuss your progress.
- You will be assessed by a combination of coursework - including presentations, podcasts and posters - and exams, including oral assessments.
- There are lots of support systems to help you, from your Personal Tutor and our Student Support Office, to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC. The Students’ Association is also a great source of advice on and opportunities for Peer Learning and Support.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, you can take any of the following single or joint honours degrees...
|Spanish||Portuguese||Spanish and Portuguese|
|French and Spanish||French and Portuguese||Spanish and Business|
|German and Spanish||German and Portuguese||Spanish and Classics|
|Italian and Spanish||Russian Studies and Spanish||Scandinavian Studies and Spanish|
|Arabic and Spanish||Chinese and Spanish||Spanish and Politics|
|Spanish and English Literature||Portuguese and English Literature||Portuguese and English Language|
|Spanish and Linguistics||Portuguese and Linguistics||Spanish and History|
|Spanish and Philosophy||Portuguese and Philosophy||Spanish and History of Art|
|Portuguese and Scottish Literature||International Business with Spanish*||Law and 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.
Applications for 2021 entry are now closed. If you are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2021, check out our Offer Holder Hub for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (SPLAS).
Visit the Offer Holder Hub for SPLAS
Keen to get a head start for 2022?
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 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 2022 entry open in September 2021.
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 value as 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 both languages in the top ten of the world’s most widely-spoken, Spanish and Portuguese are your gateway to a great many countries and cultures, extending beyond Europe to Latin America and parts of Africa. But wherever you are based in the world, the ability to understand and communicate in Spanish and / or Portuguese 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 and development
- 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 Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, Intermediality, or Translation Studies.
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.
QS World Rankings by Subject 2021
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 place 13th for Modern Languages; 11th for Arts & Humanities.
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 don't need any prior knowledge of either language.
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.