Catalan Studies

Catalan is a Romance language spoken in Northern Spain (Catalonia, Valencia, the ‘Franja de Ponent’, Southern France, Andorra, the Balearic Islands, and in the city of Alguer (Alghero) on Sardinia.

A view over Barcelona at sunset.

Catalonia is home to a fiercely proud people and boasts a rich artistic history which includes the work of Dalí, Gaudí and Miró., while all the territories in which Catalan is spoken, the so-called ‘Països Catalans’ are vibrant, diverse, and have their own singular characteristics.

The prominence of Catalonia both in a Spanish and a European context makes Catalan Studies an important discipline. The region's cultural, intellectual and political heritage offers significant avenues for rewarding and worthwhile study. The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, is one of the world's major cultural and economic centres.

Sheffield has, since the 1950s, been recognised as an international centre of excellence for the teaching of Catalan and related research. We have a native language teacher part-funded by the Institut Ramon Llull. Our close-knit Catalan community extends beyond the classroom to regular social events for staff and students.

Find out more about the Catalan community at Sheffield

Undergraduate degree combinations

To see how our degrees can be structured and combined, please visit the following:

BA Modern Languages & Cultures (BAMLC) - this course allows you to choose between one and three languages to study.

Dual degrees with a non-language - these options allow you to take a language (or two, in some cases) alongside a non-language subject.


By the end of your first year studying Catalan, with four hours per week of classes, you’ll be able to discuss a variety of everyday topics with native speakers and begin to understand the differential nature of Catalonia within Spain (Common European Framework Reference for Languages ( aka CEFR A1 to A2).

By the end of your second year, you’ll have the tools to thrive in a Catalan-speaking region as a student, including talking about more complex, abstract topics and expressing your views and opinions (CEFR B1 to B2).

By the end of your final year, you’ll be able to tackle complex topics in speech and writing and will be familiar with social and political issues in the Catalan-speaking world (CEFR C1).

Depending on your degree programme, you will be able to take modules that explore the literature, history and culture of the Catalan-speaking regions. You may also choose to write a Catalan Studies dissertation in your final year.


You will study 40 credits in language and culture at beginner's level.

Beginner's Catalan




Catalan Language Beginners

20 Core

Social and Political History of Iberia and Latin America

This module examines the historical trajectory of Spain, Catalonia and Portugal, their emergence as states or regions with aspirations to statehood in the Iberian Peninsula, their linguistic evolution and expansion throughout the peninsula and overseas, the eventual independence of the colonies and their development and consolidation into the various modern-day states we know today. The module will explore the social, political, linguistic and cultural characteristics of these nations and states, and their peoples, and highlight the importance of understanding their complex history in the formation of their identities, languages and cultural and political values.

Below are a number of areas directly related to Catalan which may be addressed in this module (note that not all topics will be covered each year)

  • The political and social reasons why Latin split into the different Romance Languages (Catalan, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian) 
  • The emergence of Catalonia from the Catalan territories and its incorporation into the kingdom of Aragon and then the kingdom of Spain. 
  • Christianity, Islam and Judaism: the social and linguistic effects of the Reconquest and the expulsion of the Jews and Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. 
  • The Catalan speaking regions and the Spanish Empire 
  • Liberalism and Revolution 
  • Republicanism and Anarchism 
  • Dictatorships and Democracies
  • Latin America and Catalan exiles 
  • Catalan aspirations to independence in the 20th and 21st centuries
20 Core (if you are studying one or two languages and cultures)
Optional (if you are studying three languages and cultures)

Optional school-wide modules

Title Credits Core/Optional

Intersections: Text, Image, Thought in the French-speaking world

The aim of the module is to introduce students to significant French texts and to illustrate and explore a range of possible critical approaches to them, including cross-media or intermedial reinterpretations. 

This module will focus on two important French texts per semester (with "text" taken in its largest sense of book, film, art work, piece of music, cultural product, etc.). Each text will form the basis for a close reading, followed by analyses using French cultural, historical, literary and critical theory approaches as well as adaptations into other media (such as film, art and music) where appropriate. The module will be taught and assessed in English, but the materials will be made available in both French and English, with French students required to use and cite the French materials. 

20 Optional

Resist! The Art of Protest in Berlin and Amsterdam

Berlin and Amsterdam: two capitals at the forefront of protest and alternative lifestyles from the early 20th century right up to the present. Where did their radical traditions spring from? What do these protests say about how the cities and nations see themselves? How does creative resistance fuel gentrification and urban tourism? 

This module explores the culture of resistance and protest from the first women's march for the vote and posters and activism against war and fascism, to the creative resistance of the Amsterdam PROVO movement in the 1960s to Black Lives Matter/Kick out Zwarte Piet. 

We will cover concepts such as populism, activism, colonial resistance, feminism, BLM, climate activism. How do these movement use art and image to press their causes?  

20 Optional

Comparative Visual Cultures

This is a school-wide module taught by specialists from across the school who have research interests in visual culture. It introduces students to some of the main movements in European cinema and art, and includes a strong Russian and East European element. The module includes seminars and film viewings.

20 Optional

Understanding Spanish and Latin American Culture

Why has the gypsy culture of Andalucía been so crucial to ideas about Spanish identity and how and why has this changed? How did gender politics and the role of women change after the Franco dictatorship in Spain? How and why has historical memory about the Civil War becomes such a feature of contemporary Spanish life? How and why was modernity experienced as a crisis in Latin America? What is machismo and why is it thought to be so central to Latin American culture? How do revolutionary politics and sexual politics relate in Latin America?

20 Optional

The Soviet Union 1917-1991

This module provides an overview of the historical changes affected the territories of the former Russian Empire from the Revolutions of 1917. This includes the dramatic economic, political, demographic, institutional and ideological changes that occurred in the period. Attention will also be paid to the multinational dimension of the USSR and to the international context within which the USSR rose and declined as a power. Students will be introduced to some of the various theoretical approaches to the history of the USSR and will be encouraged to develop a critical approach to received categories.  

Taught and Assessed in English

  Optional (Autumn Semester only)

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 1 September 2023

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