2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Spanish and Portuguese

UCAS code: RR45

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Spanish and Portuguese

Two of the most widely spoken languages in the world, Spanish and Portuguese are your gateway to a great many countries and cultures in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Our joint honours programme will give you the opportunity to develop advanced spoken and written skills in both languages.

As well as intensive language training, you will be immersed in an extraordinary range of literature, film, poetry and theatre from around the world, explored in its historical context.

Many of our graduates started as complete beginners in Portuguese. By the end of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate a range of linguistic skills and crucial intercultural competencies.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival and capital city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study two global languages in their cultural context.

We are 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.

In Years 1 and 2, as well as studying Spanish and Portuguese, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines. You can, for example, opt to take electives in other subjects, or broaden your linguistic portfolio by studying Catalan.

You will then specialise as you progress through your honours years, the first of which is spent abroad. When you graduate, you will have the blend of skills needed for a range of careers around the globe.

The wonderfully helpful and passionate staff I have had the opportunity to learn from have been truly invaluable. 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.

  • Ian, Year 2, Spanish and Portuguese MA (Hons)

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Spanish and Portuguese.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

Spanish

You will study either Spanish 1A or 1B, depending on your language skills. Typically, students on Spanish 1B come to University with substantially more experience of studying Spanish than students on Spanish 1A.

As well as developing your language skills, both the 1A and 1B courses will introduce you to a diverse selection of cultural texts and films from across the Spanish-speaking world.

Portuguese

You will study Portuguese 1, which caters for both beginners and more advanced students.

You will learn how to speak, read, listen to and write the language. By the end of the year, you will be familiar with everyday Portuguese vocabulary, grammar and syntax.

You will be introduced to Portuguese-speaking literature through a selection of short stories from Mozambique, Angola, Brazil and Portugal.

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

You will continue to develop your spoken and written language skills in Spanish and Portuguese.

You will gain confidence in expressing yourself in both languages, ready to work or study abroad in Year 3.

You will start to become familiar with the main grammatical and lexical distinctions between European and Brazilian Portuguese.

You will also study the cultures and the societies of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds through literature, film and the arts.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will choose other courses from a wide range offered by the University.

These option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical options include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

You can also opt to study Catalan, expanding your knowledge of Iberian cultures. Or, depending on what you have studied in Year 1, different aspects of linguistics.

Year 3

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your 30 weeks between Spanish and Portuguese.

You will spend at least eight weeks in a country relevant to each language, either studying or working. For example, you may be eligible to work as a Language Assistant with an organisation such as the British Council.

Our graduates report how much the year abroad has benefited their general life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of cultures in context and of the Spanish and Portuguese languages.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning, cultural awareness and skills development.

For example, alongside your cultural and linguistic immersion, you will take e-learning courses which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your Year 4 language courses.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with Spanish and Portuguese, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will study advanced language courses in Spanish and Portuguese. These core courses cover skills such as:

  • presenting and discussing cultural, political and societal topics in each language
  • advanced comprehension, summary writing, translation and composition

In addition to your core courses, you will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level courses on Spain, Latin America, Portugal, Brazil or Lusophone Africa.

These courses typically explore aspects of:

  • history
  • literature
  • film
  • culture

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a dissertation or long essay.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

A number of our courses have developed online resources to complement the core materials. These resources are designed to be accessible from home, or from the campus' excellent computing facilities.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include around:

  • 27,000 books and 5,000 journals in Spanish
  • 5,000 books and 2,680 journals in Portuguese

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American treasures in these collections include:

  • a 1629 edition of Cervantes
  • early translations of The Lusiads, Luís de Camões' epic poem of 1572, widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese-language literature
  • paintings by Murillo and Picasso
  • the renowned musicologist Jan Fairley’s rich collection of Latin American music recordings and interviews

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

Our in-house Portuguese Language Centre is one of only four in the UK sponsored by the Instituto Camões. It houses a dedicated student resource centre, including books and films in Portuguese, and since 2018 has hosted certification exams in the language.

We play a key role in the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies at the University. It brings together staff and students from a number of different subject areas at Edinburgh, including:

  • film, media and art
  • geography
  • politics
  • history
  • social anthropology
  • linguistics
Events and activities

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

The Spanish Society, for example, is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The Association also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in Spanish, Portuguese and seven other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional. Many of them are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes.

Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has an outstanding collection of early modern Spanish material.

Spain has a consulate here (Portugal an honorary consulate), and there are large communities of Spanish and Portuguese speakers. Our students are involved in voluntary outreach work with the local school for Portuguese Language, Lusofonias Oficinas de Português. We also have close links with the Portuguese Consulate in Manchester.

Edinburgh’s world cinema scene is particularly strong. We are proud to contribute to its success through collaborations with festivals such as Africa in Motion and IberoDocs.

The annual Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival was started and developed by our very own colleagues, and offers students the chance to get involved in events planning and delivery and to use their languages outside the classroom.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your 30 weeks between Spanish and Portuguese, and spending at least eight weeks in a country relevant to each language.

The University has exchange places in a wide variety of universities in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, including Brazil.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Spanish and Portuguese, and deepen your understanding of the diverse cultures where these languages are spoken. It will also allow you to develop broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

As well as these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you will also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

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 (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for Spanish and Portuguese, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

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.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are 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 this programme, you will gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies.

Additionally, 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 issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

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 these two major languages - and to understand the cultures to which they open doors - will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that both Spanish and Portuguese are in the world's ten most widely-spoken languages. Between them, they are spoken by around 700 million people.

This programme is your gateway to a great many countries and cultures in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Further study

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, we typically offer a one-year Masters by Research programme in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. This programme is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work. Our interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • 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.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: A language other than English at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: A language other than English at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: A language other than English at 5. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Spanish and Portuguese

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding