Portuguese Studies

Portuguese is the official language of nine countries across four continents and is spoken by over 200 million people. Portugal, Brazil and the rest of the Lusophone world are home to a an incredible range of art, culture and traditions.

Streets of Portugal

Knowledge of the Portuguese language assumes an increasing significance as the 21st century progresses. The richness of literature in Portuguese, as well as the political and cultural history of the entire Lusophone world, make Portuguese Studies an important field of academic study.

Portuguese Studies has been taught at Sheffield since the 1940s and has developed a strong record of teaching and research. Portuguese Studies is a popular choice at Sheffield, which is reflected in the lively, friendly atmosphere within the School. Students study the literature, history and culture not only of Portugal and Brazil, but also of Portuguese-speaking Africa and Portuguese-speaking Asia. Beyond the classroom, we usually hold an annual Portuguese dinner to which Portuguese speaking members of the local community are invited, and also an annual football match against Catalan Studies in which both staff and students participate.

You can study Portuguese language & culture at a beginner’s level from both the first and second year of your degree. If you already have some knowledge of Portuguese, we also welcome you onto our courses.

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.

Course structure

By the end of your first year, with four hours per week of classes, you’ll be able to discuss a variety of everyday topics with native speakers (Common European Framework Reference for Languages (CEFR) A1 to A2).

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

At 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 Portuguese-speaking world (CEFR C1).

You can also choose to write a Portuguese Studies dissertation in your final year.

Depending on your degree programme, you will be able to take optional modules each year that explore the literature, history and culture of the Portuguese-speaking world so as to reach a high level of understanding in these areas.


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

Beginner's Portuguese

Title Credits Core/Optional
Portuguese Language Beginners 20 Core

An Introduction to the Social and Political History of Iberia & Latin America

This module examines the historical trajectory of Spain, its emergence as a state in the Iberian Peninsula, its imperial expansion overseas into Latin America, 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 states and its peoples and highlight the importance of understanding their complex history in the formation of their identities, their languages and their cultural and political values. The module has a particular emphasis on the importance of myths and how, regardless of their historical veracity, they can condition behaviours, mould identities and shape future history.

20 Core

Optional school-wide modules:

Title Credits Core/Optional

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

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. 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.

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

Visual literacy is a key skill and visual culture remains one of the most accessible and important modes through which we represent, understand and critique our world. This module provides an introduction to some of the major trends within visual cultures in European languages, and the development of visual media. Students will work on a selection of visual texts across national frameworks and historical periods to examine their conditions of production, distribution and reception and to explore how meaning is constructed and critiqued in visual culture. In seminars we will engage with detailed analysis of core texts and with critical materials. Students will be encouraged to consider country-specific, transnational and comparative trends through a critical lens. 

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 was modernity experienced as a crisis in Latin America? How does class struggle shape Latin America? What does Revolution really mean in the context of Latin America? These are just some of the questions that will be explored in this module. This course examines the literature and culture of modern Spain and modern Spanish-speaking Latin America. In each semester, three cultural products from one of these two areas are studied, and may include poetry, theatre, narrative fiction or film. We will build up a picture of the cultural history of Spain and Latin America, as well as looking at key themes to emerge from selected literary, dramatic and/or cinematic outputs. By focussing on different genres in each semester, students will be able to explore different types of cultural product and to develop analytical skills gradually by moving from shorter pieces to a larger body of writing.Students taking post-A Level or equivalent will study primary texts in their original Spanish version. Beginners will study primary texts in English translation. This module is strongly recommended as a foundational core course for further study in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

20 Optional

The Soviet Union 1917-1991

Overview of the formation, development and collapse of the USSR, beginning from c.1900. Covers historiographic problems in analysing primary materials, ideological problems in dealing with the revolutionary movement and subsequent developments, debates over the nature and trajectory of the USSR and its place in the wider world.

  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.

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