MA Modern Languages and Cultures

Working with internationally acclaimed academic experts, you will gain a specialist qualification focusing on a single discipline (eg. French Studies) or undertake interdisciplinary or comparative studies across two or more languages and cultures linked to our research clusters.

The stairwell inside Jessop West.

The course is structured but very flexible; you can specialise in one of our language and culture areas, developing a deeper knowledge and understanding of it or you can take an interdisciplinary or comparative approach across two or more languages and cultures, depending on your background and interests. The programme is ideal for students with a background in any area of specialism in French and Francophone studies, Germanic studies (German and Dutch), Hispanic and Lusophone studies (Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese; Latin America), Luxembourgish Studies, and Russian and Slavonic studies (Russian and Czech; the former USSR).

You can engage with topics such as literature, linguistics, cultural studies, history, visual and film studies, politics, society, migration, and postcolonial or gender studies, as appropriate to your interests.

This MA programme is also designed as a pathway to future doctoral study. You will have the opportunity to build knowledge in your chosen specialist field through appropriate module selection and the development of your dissertation topic, which may serve as the foundation for a PhD project. You will also have the opportunity during the course to receive advice and guidance on how to construct a PhD proposal and apply for Scholarship funding. If you have any questions, please contact the admissions team.

Module Credits

Topics in Modern Languages and Cultures (Autumn start; whole year)

This module enables students of Modern Languages and Cultures to engage with topics such as literature, linguistics, cultural studies, politics, society, migration or gender studies, as appropriate to their interests, and through a programme of consultation and/or seminars, as appropriate to the number of students. Students will examine issues in one or more languages, cultures or societies depending on their background and interests. Languages/cultures that can be studied or contrasted include those of the Francophone world; Hispanic and Lusophone world (inc. Spain, Portugal, Catalonia, Latin America) the Germanic world; and the Russian and Slavonic world (inc. Czech Republic, Russia and the former USSR) and Luxembourg. Students may choose to follow a course of lectures and seminars given for an existing module, with agreed consultations (where relevant) directed at the extended essay topic, or to undertake a programme of directed reading with a staff member.


Literary and Cultural Studies (Spring core, Autumn optional)

Historical and critical survey, of major theoretical approaches to Literary and Cultural Studies, to include five topics such as the following: Marxism; Hermeneutics; Psychoanalysis; Russian Formalism; Structuralism; Feminism and Gender Studies; Postcolonial Theories; Poststructuralism; New Sociologies of Culture. Historical and conceptual analysis will prepare the ground for informed application and critical employment of theoretical approaches to literary and cultural phenomena.

Research Methods in Modern Languages and Cultures 15
Dissertation 60

You can choose from the following languages and cultures: French and Francophone studies, Germanic studies (German and Dutch), Hispanic and Lusophone studies (Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese; Latin America), Luxembourgish studies, and Russian and Slavonic studies (Russian and Czech; the former USSR).

Possible topics to study include literature, linguistics, cultural studies, history, visual and film studies, politics, society, migration, and postcolonial or gender studies.

Here are some examples of what you might study:

The Francophone World. French literature from the 17th to 21st century; French film studies; the cultural history of France during World War II; gender studies in contemporary French society; post-colonial francophone studies; Haiti and its history;

The Hispanic and Lusophone world (inc. Spain, Portugal, Catalonia, Latin America): the history of the Spanish language; Spanish cultural history and literature from the 19th century; gender, identity, space and place in the Hispanic world; adaptations and transformations of Spanish literature; political culture in the Hispanic world; popular music in the Hispanic world; Spanish colonialism in North Africa and its legacy; the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship in cultural memory; civilisation and barbarism in Latin America; the idea of the Modern in Latin American fiction; Barcelona: culture of the city; cultural crosscurrents in the Lusophone world;

The Germanic world (inc. Germany, the Netherlands & Luxembourg): Modern German thought; twentieth-century German fiction and drama; the birth of consumerism and creativity in Germany and Britain; women’s literature and history in Germany; migration, multiculturalism and community in Dutch literature; 

The Russian and Slavonic world Reading the Russian Revolution; Dostoevsky; the Bakhtin circle and aspects of Russian cultural theory; contemporary Russian society; Soviet culture in the Era of the Great Terror; Russian history and society through film; politics and culture in the USSR 1917-38; Socialist Realism, Totalitarian Kitsch and Russian Postmodernism; Russian linguistics; comparative Slavonic linguistics; Czech linguistics;

There are a wide range of possibilities for comparative and interdisciplinary work: for example, you could undertake study on literary movements with French and Spanish specialists and compliment that with work on Bakhtinian theory with a Russianist.

‘Research Methods in Modern Languages and Cultures’ module introduces and explores a range of methodological approaches and techniques that are relevant to the programme. It enables students to identify, assess and exploit sources and data, present the results of their research in an appropriate manner, and adhere to data protection, intellectual property and ethics requirements. Students engage with different theoretical models and debates, and a range of tools for accessing information.

The Dissertation is undertaken by all students on the Masters’ Degree is designed to deepen further subject knowledge, to provide a broader range of opportunities to apply relevant research methodologies to selected primary and secondary materials, and to hone critical evaluation and language skills on a topic on an aspect of the modern languages and cultures offered by SLC. The topic will be agreed with the dissertation supervisor from the range of areas described above for the core modules. Students will be expected to put into practice theories, strategies, methods and techniques with which they will have become acquainted while studying the relevant preparatory modules. You can find details of staff research interests on individual staff profile pages, which will help you to select a potential supervisor for your dissertation.

You have 45 credits free for approved modules. You can use these free credits to take modules that enable you to specialise further in a chosen topic or to broaden your programme. Subject to the approval of the Programme Director, these modules could be language-related (translation, for example) or from another Department (eg. English, History, etc.) outside the School of Languages and Cultures, subject to availability.

Examples of modules available within the School of Languages and Cultures are:

  • Approaches to Literary & Cultural Studies (Critical Theory) I,  15 credits, Autumn
  • Concepts & Approaches in Intercultural Communication, 15 credits, Autumn
  • Language in Context, 15 credits, Autumn
  • Film Translation of Literary Classics, 15 credits, Spring
  • Translation Skills. 15 credits, Spr. 

Choose one translation option from the list below:

  • Advanced Translation from English into Chinese
  • Advanced Translation from French
  • Advanced Spanish-English Translation
  • Advanced Dutch-English Translation
  • Advanced Portuguese-English Translation
  • Advanced English-Italian Translation
  • Advanced German-English Translation
  • Advanced Translation from Russian
  • Czech to English Translation

Teaching and learning

MA Modern Languages and Cultures consists of a variety of teaching and learning methods, including staff- and student-led seminars, small group work, one-to-one tutorials with staff, and practical workshops. Independent study and research are crucial elements of the programme. Learning and assessment methods include extended essays or individual projects, individual or small-group oral presentations, organisation of a research event, and a dissertation depending on the module studied.


The MA in Modern Languages at Sheffield can help you to extend and deepen your knowledge of culture and language, and improve your career prospects. It is also an ideal route into PhD study, giving you a solid foundation from which to develop your doctoral research.

Read more, including information about applying, in our online prospectus:

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: 9 November 2020

Explore all postgraduate courses

A masters from Sheffield means in-depth knowledge, advanced skills and the confidence to achieve your ambitions.