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) degree at the University of Edinburgh is its flexibility.

We have a great range of degree 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. You'll learn alongside students who intend to take the subject on into honours years but, 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?





(including Scottish Gaelic)



(Scandinavian Studies)

English Literature



Islamic Studies



Middle Eastern Studies


(Scandinavian Studies)



Russian Scottish Ethnology Scottish Literature Spanish


(Scandinavian Studies)

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 in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS);  Swahili in the School of Social and Political Science (SPS); and Ancient Greek and Latin in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA). 

How do I sign up for an outside subject?

Signing up to take an outside subject is easy. Simply ask your Personal Tutor (PT) when you meet during Welcome Week or Week 1. if you're not sure who your PT is, you’ll find their name and contact details on MyEd, the University’s web portal.

Take me to more information about Personal Tutors (PTs)

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). 

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 by LLC and are free to all University of Edinburgh students.

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

Each course lasts one semester and can be taken for credit or extra credit.

You must be signed up by a staff member – your Personal Tutor or Student Support Officer, for example.

Take me to more information about Open Language Courses

Short Courses

The Centre for Open Learning (COL) offers 10-week courses in 24 languages starting in September, 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 offer 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

Taster Sessions and 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.

In collaboration with the Centre for Open Learning, the Association also runs free six-week language taster classes which make a perfect stepping stone into further learning.

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 was voted best in the University in 2018!

Many of our subjects stage an annual play, sometimes in association with theatre societies, and we’ve got an online creative writing magazine for students in European Languages and Cultures, BABBLE, which was started with a Student Experience Grant and is now on its fourth issue.