The syllabus by year
The syllabus that Hertford modern linguists follow is set by the Modern Languages faculty. This ensures consistency in academic provision across all Oxford colleges. In the first year, you will take a number of papers designed to introduce you to the study of literature and other relevant fields. Thereafter, a wide range of options allows you to explore your own particular interests. In each year, language work comprises about 50% of your degree. Here is a basic outline of the course, but for more information, visit the faculty website.
For each language studied, you will take four compulsory papers: two language papers working into and out of the target language, and two literature papers spanning different genres and periods of literature. If you do French/German sole then you will do three further papers designed to introduce you to other areas of study (cinema, philosophy, literary theory, etc). If you do Linguistics or Spanish/Portuguese sole, you will take three papers on general linguistics, grammar, and phonetics and phonology. All papers are examined at the end of the third term.
After the compulsory first-year course, you then have considerable choice in terms of the papers you study. You can choose to specialize in medieval, Renaissance, or modern literature; to focus on individual authors or set texts; or to explore interests in linguistic, philosophical, or historical subjects. Most students will study three or four papers during the course of the second year.
In this year, you will spend between nine and twelve months abroad. Depending on the number of languages you do, this will be in one or more countries where French, Spanish, German, and/or Portuguese are spoken. Again there are a number of options available: you can work as an English-language assistant in a school; you can apply for a place on an Erasmus scheme or enrol at a university; or you can organize a work placement or some other way of spending your year in a country (or countries) where you can use your language(s) on a daily basis.
This year is similar to the second year, in that you will continue to explore your own individual interests. Most students will take a further two or three papers in the first two terms. In the second term, you will have the option to take a special subject paper. In each language there are currently 15–20 options available, with subjects ranging from comparative literature to European and Latin American cinema, from psycholinguistics to modern literary theory, and from advanced translation to literature & the visual arts. At the start of your final term you will have oral/listening exams in the relevant language(s), and then halfway through term you will be examined on all the papers studied in the second and fourth years.