Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA French and Portuguese

UCAS code: RR15

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA French and Portuguese

This flexible joint honours programme enables you to study two complementary European languages in their global cultural contexts.

Both languages are among the 10 most widely spoken in the world, opening up career opportunities in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Most of our graduates started as complete beginners in Portuguese. Through intensive language study, including a year abroad, you will have the opportunity to acquire the same level of spoken and written Portuguese as you gain in French.

In addition to your language classes, you will explore aspects of French-speaking (francophone) and Portuguese-speaking (lusophone) culture. Courses cover literature and cinema, political history, social movements and philosophical ideas.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study 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.

This programme is very flexible. In Years 1 and 2, as well as your core subjects, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines.

You will specialise as you progress through your honours years, choosing from a range of courses that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education in the arts and humanities, and specialist knowledge of two major languages, valued by employers worldwide.

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 French 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

French

If you have a limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A, an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture.

If you have studied French beyond National 5 (SQA) or GCSE level, you will typically take French 1B. As well as developing your written and spoken language skills, this course focuses on modern French literature, culture and civilisation.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of one of the world's great civilisations by focusing on social and political events from the Second World War to the 21st century.

Topics covered include:

  • resistance and collaboration
  • the Fifth Republic
  • May 1968
  • feminism
  • colonisation and decolonisation

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.

You can, for example, opt to study another language, such as Spanish, Catalan or Basque to expand your knowledge of Iberian languages and cultures. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

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

French

You will further develop your language skills in French, including in writing, translation and grammar. You will gain confidence speaking in French on a variety of topics relating to contemporary France and the francophone world.

You will take a course in French and francophone literature and culture. This course will introduce you to the most important authors at key points in French literary and cultural history, from the 12th to the 21st century.

You will study works by writers such as Montaigne, Racine, Molière and Baudelaire alongside texts that have been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics.

Portuguese

You will take our Portuguese Language 2 course. This builds on the skills gained in Year 1. It develops your competence in spoken and written Portuguese so that you feel confident in expressing yourself and 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 Portuguese-speaking world through literature, film and the arts.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will also 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 option courses 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 will also have the chance to take a course in the Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France. Or, depending on what you have studied in Year 1, continue exploring Basque, Catalan and Spanish language and society.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of your languages by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between a country in which French is spoken and one in which Portuguese is spoken.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is normally based on whether you study, work or combine the two.

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into a lived experience, you will study or work in countries where either French or Portuguese is spoken.

For French, we typically have exchange places at partner universities across:

  • Belgium
  • France
  • Switzerland

For Portuguese, we currently have study exchange programmes with:

  • São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
  • Lisbon and Coimbra in Portugal

It may also be possible to work in a wider range of countries in which French or Portuguese is spoken. If you are considering working abroad, the first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Study or work?

When you are abroad, you can typically choose to:

  • study in one or two destinations
  • work in one or two destinations
  • study in one destination and work in another

If you choose to study, you will take classes at one or two of the universities where we have available exchange opportunities. This means that you will spend either:

  • two semesters at a single institution or
  • one semester at two different institutions (in different destinations)

A work placement abroad is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. Once you have checked if you are eligible to work abroad, you might choose to do one or more placements. For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching assistant.

Whatever you decide to do, your time abroad is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. It adds an international dimension to your studies, showing future employers that you are open to new ideas and experiences.

Coursework while abroad

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

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad, you will take e-learning courses in both French and Portuguese to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses. These courses will count as part of your Year 3 marks, alongside any coursework arranged by your host university (if studying abroad).

Depending on your Year Abroad activities, you also begin preparing for your dissertation while abroad, guided by your dissertation supervisor.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety

Your wellbeing and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for French and Portuguese and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

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

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

In addition to your core courses, you will choose from a range of specialist, honours-level courses.

These courses cover topics such as francophone and lusophone:

  • film and culture
  • literature and theatre
  • history and politics

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 in your choice of French or Portuguese.

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 (2024/25)

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.

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

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries and collections

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

  • over 118,500 books and 25,500 journals in French
  • around 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

Portuguese treasures in the collections include early translations of The Lusiads, Luís de Camões' epic poem of 1572, widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese-language literature.

Francophone treasures include a particularly rich collection of French Language papers donated by eminent scholars, medieval literary works, and correspondence on the French Revolution.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

Established in 1995, our Centre de recherches francophones belges promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature, and hosts a range of activities for students and the public. Since 2018, the Centre has been partnering with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) to bring francophone Belgian culture to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We also play a key role in the Diaspolinks network, which brings together researchers with a shared interest in the growing field of Diaspora Studies, especially anglophone and francophone diasporas. The international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the context of British, French and Canadian immigration policies.

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

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies, clubs and social enterprises. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

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

The French theatre society - Les Escogriffes - typically stages a play in French each year, with opportunities to direct, act, produce and promote.

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 French, 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, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections 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 one of the best French collections in the UK and a significant collection of lusophone works.

There is plenty to see and do throughout the year, including a rich programme of cultural events at the nearby Institut français d'Ecosse.

As well as the city's main summer festivals, the Edinburgh French Film Festival, Africa in Motion and IberoDocs bring the latest and best francophone and lusophone cinema to Edinburgh each winter and spring. There are also various food festivals.

Portugal has an honorary consulate here, and there is a large community of 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.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) abroad, dividing your time between a country in which French is spoken and one in which Portuguese is spoken.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

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

In addition to these classes, and 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 Year 4.

Support

As well as the teaching staff and other staff members 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 peer support schemes for French and for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, 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, you will also gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies.

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 prove 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 projects
  • 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

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in these two world 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 French is a major language of international communication, spoken in many parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas. As one of our graduates, you will be well-placed to seek opportunities in the 29 countries where French is an official language, and the many multinational companies and institutions for which it is a working language, including the European Commission.

Portuguese is estimated to have around 220 million native speakers (260 million speakers in total). The language is your gateway to a great many countries and cultures in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. By population, the top three places where it is an official language are Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.

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 Masters by Research degrees in both French and in Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies. Each of these programmes is a good foundation for 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 portfolio of taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • 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.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB 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: French at B (if not at Higher) and English at C.
  • A Levels: a language other than English at B. GCSEs: French at B or 6 (if not at A Level) and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: a language other than English at 5. SL: French at 5 (if not at HL) and 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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.

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 French and Portuguese

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, 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