Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Open Language courses

Start your language learning with a free, one-semester course available to all students at the University of Edinburgh. Choose from a range of world languages.

What is an Open Language course?

Colourful dragons

Open Language courses are free to all University of Edinburgh students, and you can take one at any stage of your undergraduate or postgraduate programme.

All courses are SCQF Level 07 - that’s typically the level below a first year undergraduate course. The aim is to equip you with the basic skills to read and write the language, including vocabulary and grammar.

For most languages, we offer at least two study levels:

  • Foundation 1
  • Foundation 2

We also offer Foundation 3 and Foundation 4 in selected languages, depending on availability.

Each course lasts one semester.

Depending on your Degree Programme Table and other study commitments, you can take a course for:

  • 20 credits (with your work counting towards the credits you need to complete your degree programme)
  • extra credit (your work won't count towards the credits you need for your degree programme, but it will appear on your academic record and transcript)

Whether you're taking the course for credit or not, you must be enrolled through EUCLID as 'Class and Exam (CE)', do all the coursework, and sit the final exam.

What level am I at?

If you are a complete beginner, you'll start at Foundation 1.

Foundation 2 courses are for students who have some previous experience of the language, either gained through Foundation 1 or through, for example, studying the language at GCSE or National 5 level.

Foundation 3 is for students who have successfully completed Foundation 2 courses or have otherwise reached an equivalent standard to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level A2/1.

Find out more about assessing your level of study

What can I study?

In the 2023 to 2024 academic year, we are offering the following Open Languages courses.

How do I know if I can take a course for credit?

Whether you can take an Open Language course for credit depends on what degree programme you are studying.

If you are already doing a languages programme at the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can only take an Open Language course for extra credit. This means that your coursework won't count towards the credits you need for your degree programme, but the course will appear on your academic record and transcript.

The best way to check if you can take a course for credit is to look at your Degree Programme Table.

Find my Degree Programme Table on the University of Edinburgh DRPS website

If you are a Visiting Student, you can only take an Open Language course for credit.

How do I sign up?

You sign up for an Open Languages course through your own School (the School at the University of Edinburgh in which your degree programme is based). The process is the same as for any of your other courses, so usually you’ll go through a Student Adviser, your Supervisor or your School’s Postgraduate Office.

If you have any queries about what’s involved in an Open Languages course, or how to sign up, you’re very welcome to contact us. 

Email us about an Open Languages course

Want to learn about culture too?

Photo of brightly coloured fabrics

If you are an undergraduate student and are interested in learning about the cultures in which languages are used, while also getting to grips with vocabulary and grammar, you should consider an outside subject in a language in Year 1 and/or Year 2. We'd be delighted to have you in class, learning about the societies worldwide in which your chosen language is spoken, and the literature, film and theatre it has inspired, as well as learning the language itself (most languages are available to learn from scratch).

Outside subjects are taken for credit by most Year 1 and 2 students in arts, humanities and social science degree programmes at the University of Edinburgh, and a language is excellent in preparing for a Year Abroad and/or life after university. We teach a wide range of world languages and cultures, including various options in Asian Studies, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, European Languages and Cultures, and Celtic and Scottish Studies.

Find out more about outside subjects in literatures, languages and cultures

Other ways to learn a language at the University of Edinburgh

There are lots of benefits to learning a language, from making the most of time abroad to enhancing your social life (online and off) and increasing your employability.

If our Open Languages courses don't suit you, you can take a short course through the Centre for Open Learning. These 10-week courses are open to everyone. If you're a matriculated student at the University of Edinburgh, you get a 33% discount. 

Take me to the Centre for Open Learning website for info on short language courses

If you are looking for a more informal way to learn, the Students' Association runs plenty of social activities to help you upskill, including the Tandem language exchange programme. 

Take me to the global pages of the Students' Association website