Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

Why choose Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We're ranked in the UK's top 5 universities and in the world's top 20 universities for modern languages in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

  • The University is home to the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies and the Portuguese Language Centre supported by the Camões Institute in Portugal. We also have strong links with the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh and the Etxepare Basque Institute.

  • Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American studies are, thanks to our diverse staff expertise and Edinburgh’s rich international offerings, your gateway to an extraordinary range of cultures. This ranges from medieval to contemporary and from poetry to popular film, from Europe, to Latin America, and Africa, from small languages such as Basque to the great world languages of Spanish and Portuguese.

  • The University offers 16 languages for study and more than 140 joint language programmes. This creates a wide and uniquely exciting and stimulating environment for language study.

  • Our teaching staff are also highly active researchers, passing on to you the same passion and world-class expertise that gained excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. In modern languages and linguistics, 70 per cent of our research was rated either world-leading or internationally excellent on the overall quality profile, following a joint submission with Celtic and Scottish Studies.

  • You will spend a year of your programme working or studying in Spain, Portugal or Latin America.

Study abroad

The importance of Latin America is undoubtedly going to rise. Countries like Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina have such huge geopolitical importance it is hard to ignore their role in the future global economy.

Albie Mills 2nd year MA (Hons) Spanish & Portuguese
Albie Mills 2nd year MA (Hons) Spanish & Portuguese

The 20 countries where Spanish is an official language, and the nine where Portuguese is spoken, have fascinatingly rich and varied cultures. Our programmes and the work of enthusiastic expert staff reflect this diversity, through courses ranging from medieval poetry to Latin American contemporary film. We also offer courses in Catalan and Basque language, in addition to Portuguese and Spanish.

International culture flourishes at the University of Edinburgh, with a thriving Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies, an annual Spanish film festival, an annual student-led Spanish play, and an annual Portuguese translation workshop, supported by the Instituto Camões Portuguese Language Centre.

Our dedicated staff will ensure a supportive learning environment for your studies.


Studying Spanish at Edinburgh encompasses the study not only of the language but also of Hispanic culture and history. Our resources and our expertise will give you privileged access to all major areas of Hispanic language and culture, from Catalonia to Argentina and from Latin American indigenous film-making to Castilian ballads.


Portuguese is one of the world's most important languages, spoken in Europe, South America, and Africa. Study at the University of Edinburgh encompasses learning about the fascinating literatures and cultures where Portuguese is spoken, as well as the language.

Year 1

If you are studying Spanish, you will take either Spanish 1A or 1B depending on your language skills. You will also study a selection of literary texts and films.

If you are studying Portuguese, you will take Portuguese 1 which caters for both beginners and more advanced students. You will be introduced to Portuguese-speaking culture through a selection of short stories and films from Mozambique, Angola, Brazil and Portugal.

It is possible to take both Spanish and Portuguese (in all four years).

Year 2

In Spanish, you will continue to develop your spoken and written language skills and continue to study Spanish and Latin American cultures. If you wish to study Catalan, you can start to learn about the language, history and culture of Catalonia. Basque language for beginners is also available.

If you are studying Portuguese, you will continue to develop your language skills, and you will study the cultures and the societies of the Portuguese-speaking world, through literature, film, music and the arts.

Year 3

You will study or work in Spain, Portugal or Latin America.

Year 4

You will study advanced language courses and choose from a range of specialist courses on Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese-speaking history, literature and culture.

Are there additional costs?

You will be required to purchase the primary texts for your programme.

You will undertake a year abroad in Year 3. The normal residence requirement for this is 30 weeks in the relevant country or countries. Students studying more than one language must complete a minimum period of eight weeks in each country. Associated travel and maintenance costs must be budgeted for and will vary according to destination.

You may apply for salaried teaching posts as British Council English Language Assistants.

University places without extra cost to you are available on Erasmus exchange programmes in Spain and Portugal and with our partner institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

You may also organise a work placement in your destination country, on an individual basis.

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures, in the University's Central Area. We are based in a state-of-the-art building, at 50 George Square, which houses computer microlabs, a language resource centre, and social facilities as well as tutors' offices, lecture theatres, and a film projection room.

Study abroad

In Year 3 you will spend time in Spain, Portugal or Latin America. The normal residence requirement for this is 30 weeks in the relevant country or countries. Students studying more than one language must complete a minimum period of eight weeks in each country.

The University currently has exchanges with universities in:

  • Almería
  • Barcelona (Autónoma)
  • Córdoba
  • Extremadura
  • Madrid (Complutense and Autónoma)
  • Salamanca
  • Seville
  • Granada
  • Alcalá de Henares
  • Málaga
  • Valladolid
  • Buenos Aires (San Andrés)
  • Chile (Pontificia Universidad Católica)
  • México (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
  • Puebla (Universidad de las Américas)
  • São Paulo (USP)
  • Rio de Janeiro (Pontifícia Universidade Católica)
  • Coimbra
  • Lisbon

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and computer-assisted learning.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of coursework, including presentations, and exams, including oral exams.

With a qualification in Spanish and/or Portuguese, your career options are broad and varied. Graduate employers increasingly value language skills, the intercultural and critical awareness provided by international experiences, and imaginative thinking.

Some graduates want to continue speaking the language they have learned on a daily basis and this will point to career paths in translation, interpreting, teaching or business. International companies have offices in other capitals and commercial centres and careers include trading products and services, sales and logistics.

Some decide to work within the public sector or third sector including the Civil Service, the United Nations or international charities.

Others would like a career where their insights into the culture of a country or language could be of use such as working in creative industries, the arts, tourism, travel or politics.

Graduate jobs are often not degree-specific, which means an employer is looking for graduate-level skills and abilities. For language graduates these include strong communication skills and the ability to analyse and interpret other cultures. Such skills can be applied in careers including marketing, policy work and law.

Throughout your time at the University, you will have many opportunities to gain experiences to complement your programme, subject combinations and interests. This could include completing work experience with employers who advertise and promote opportunities at the University or joining a society.