Undergraduate study - 2025 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 or Basque.

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.

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.

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

You can also choose to learn the fundamentals of Basque or study Catalan language and society, expanding your knowledge of Iberian languages and cultures.

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 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

Depending on what you have studied in Year 1, you can also take courses in different aspects of linguistics, or continue exploring Basque and Catalan 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 Spanish and Portuguese 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 Spanish 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 Spanish or Portuguese is spoken.

For Spanish, you will typically study at partner universities or work in Spain and Latin America (Argentina, Chile and Mexico).

For Portuguese, we currently have study exchange programmes with:

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

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, and have talked through your plans with us, 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 Spanish 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 Spanish and Portuguese and prepare 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 (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.

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.

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 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).

Browse the University's holdings in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

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

Since 2023, we have hosted the first extension of the Cervantes Institute in Scotland. Established in 1991, the Cervantes Institute is a non-profit organisation that promotes, supports, and celebrates Spanish-language literature, film, art, and cultures through a range of events and activities for students and the public.

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 celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2023.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in countries where either Spanish or Portuguese is spoken. You will spend at least 8 weeks in each destination.

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

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

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 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 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 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 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 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: 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.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 Spanish 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