Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Outside subjects in literatures, languages and cultures

Your guide to choosing outside options in the first two years of your undergraduate degree.

One of the most attractive characteristics of the four-year Master of Arts (MA) programme at the University of Edinburgh is its flexibility.

Graphic for languages as an outside subject

We have a great range of degree programme combinations for you to choose from, and in the first two (pre-honours) years you’ll likely get to take other subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines.

These outside choices give you the chance to study one or more subjects in addition to the one(s) you intend to take on into your honours years (Years 3 & 4). If you like them, you may even be able to change the focus of your degree.

All subjects taught to degree level in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) are available as outside subjects in Years 1 & 2, with some additional options too. 

Your main subject(s) don’t have to be in LLC for you to take these subjects, and the majority are suitable for complete beginners. Especially if you're learning a language from scratch, you'll start in Year 1 at a level that meets your needs and previous experience.

What can I study as an outside subject in LLC?

Arabic   Basque Catalan  Celtic (including Scottish Gaelic)
Chinese Danish - Scandinavian Studies Dutch French
German Islamic Studies Italian Japanese  
Korean  Literary Studies (including Scottish Literature in Year 2)  Middle Eastern Studies Norwegian - Scandinavian Studies
Persian Portuguese Russian Scottish Ethnology
Spanish Swedish - Scandinavian Studies Turkish  

Browse the University's catalogue to find out what courses are available in each of these subject areas

While the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) is the main hub of language learning at the University of Edinburgh, a few languages are taught as outside subjects in other Schools including:

  • English Language - School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS)
  • British Sign Language, Swahili and Ukrainian - Centre for Open Learning
  • Ancient Greek and Latin - School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA)

How do I sign up for an outside subject?

You sign up 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 - contact your Student Adviser if you are not sure.

If you have any queries about what’s involved in a course, you’re very welcome to contact us. 

Email us about taking one of our subjects

What if I can't take my chosen outside subject?

Timetable clashes and other commitments can sometimes mean that you can't take your preferred outside subject(s) for credit - as part of your degree programme. 

If that’s the case, and you’re still interested in learning a language, or getting involved in literature, there are lots of other ways to do so at Edinburgh.

Open Language Courses

These courses are run are free to all University of Edinburgh students.

You can take one at any stage of your degree (undergraduate or postgraduate).

All courses are SCQF Level 07. The aim is to equip you with the basic skills to read and write the language, including vocabulary and grammar.

Each course lasts one semester and can be taken for 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.

Take me to more information about Open Language Courses

Short Courses

The Centre for Open Learning (COL) offers 10-week courses starting in October, January and April. They are pitched at a range of levels, from complete beginner to learners who have studied and used the language for several years, and focus on communication skills through task-based learning.

COL also offers Short Courses in Literature and Theatre, and Creative Writing.

Courses at the Centre for Open Learning are open to students and the public; as a matriculated student, you get 33% off!

Find out more about Short Courses on the Centre for Open Learning website

Student Societies

The Students’ Association runs plenty of social activities to help you upskill your languages and indulge your love of literatures.

As well as over 280 societies - including many devoted to literatures, languages and cultures from around the globe - its award-winning Tandem programme runs regular Language Cafés, Speed Lingua evenings, language partner exchanges, and themed events throughout the year.

Co-ordinated by PublishED, 'The Inkwell' showcases prose, poetry, drama and artwork by Edinburgh students, and Bedlam Theatre - which is entirely student-led - puts on around 40 shows a year.

Find out more about Student Societies on the Students’ Association website

Good to know!

Within the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), Peer Support groups are great for building community, sharing tips and advice between year groups, and practicing conversational skills. LitPALS (English Literature) is one of the largest, and Japanese Peer Support has been voted best in the University.