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.

Find out more about Portuguese at Sheffield

Undergraduate degree combinations

BA Modern Languages & Cultures

On the BA Modern Languages & Cultures you can study:

  • Portuguese language & culture with one other language & culture
  • Portuguese language & culture with two other languages & cultures

Choose from these languages:

  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Catalan
  • Dutch
  • Luxembourgish* (from second year only)
  • Czech
  • Italian
Dual Honours (with a non-language subject)

As a Dual Honours degree

  • Portuguese language & culture with a non-language subject
  • Portuguese languages & culture, a second language & culture, and a non-language subject

Combine your study of Portuguese language & culture with one of the following:

  • Archaeology
  • Business Management
  • Economics
  • English
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Politics

Dual honours degrees

Free credits

If you have some experience of modern language learning, you can take Portuguese language & culture modules either as part of your degree (unrestricted modules) or alongside your degree (not-for-credit modules).

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.


Module information

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

Social and Political History of Iberia and Latin America

This module examines the historical trajectory of Spain and Portugal, their emergence as states in the Iberian Peninsula, their imperial expansion overseas into Africa, Latin America and beyond, 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. Below are a number of areas directly related to Portuguese 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 Spain and Portugal from the counties of Castile and Portucale. 
· 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 age of discoveries/conquests and its social, political and linguistic effects
· Portuguese Africa and India
· Language Policy in Latin America and Africa (Spain vs. Portugal) 
· Slavery and its ongoing social and political effects 
· Liberalism and Revolution 
· The disintegration of Spanish Latin America vs. the unity of Brazil 
· Civilization and Barbarism, Positivism, Modernism and Tropicalism
· Republicanism and Anarchism (Iberia and Latin America)
· Dictatorships and Democracies (Iberia and Latin America) 
· Modern Brazil: Lula, Dilma and the rise of Bolsonaro

20 Core (if you are studying one or two languages and cultures)
Optional (if you are studying three languages and cultures)

You may also choose from a range of modules from across the School of Languages and Cultures.

Portuguese Language Intermediate

Title Credits Core/Optional
Portuguese Language Intermediate 20 Core

Depending on your degree programme and language combination you may also choose from:

Title Credits Core/Optional

Nation and Identity in the Lusophone World

This course will examine the various means by which national identities are constructed and expressed in the Lusophone World. In order to consider these issues, we will study a range of modes of cultural expression, including literature and film. The course will focus on two selected countries from across the Lusophone world (namely Portugal and Mozambique), to offer a representative cross-section of Lusophone nations.

20 Core/Optional

If you didn’t study Portuguese in the first year, you can choose to pick up Portuguese as a beginners’ language in the second year, for 20 credits, and can even increase your exposure to the Portuguese-speaking world to 40 credits by also taking Nation and Identity in the Lusophone World.

You will spend either one or two semester(s) in a Portuguese-speaking country and can:

Study at a university

Studying abroad at a university allows you to experience the familiarity of student life with the excitement of living in another country. University life varies enormously across the world, however wherever they go, our students develop international networks and life-long friendships. Courses at international universities expose our students to new ways of studying, learning, and interpreting the world. 

Gain work experience

Work placements provide you with the opportunity of gaining employment experience as both a professional and an internationally competent graduate. Types of work experience may vary hugely, from translation to consultancy and everything in-between. Work experience may be paid or voluntary, depending on type of work, organisation and location. 

Portuguese Language Advanced

Title Credits Core/Optional
Portuguese Language Advanced 20 Core

Depending on your degree programme and language combination you may also choose from:

Title Credits Core/Optional

Cultural Crosscurrents in the Lusophone World

This module aims to examine how particular works discuss themes and concerns present in the intercultural relationship between societies and cultures across the Portuguese-speaking world (Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Macau, East Timor and São Tomé and Príncipe), though the course may not cover all of these countries in a given year. The aim is to promote an understanding of how different Portuguese-speaking countries have approached, and influenced, each other. In so doing, the aim will be for students to understand how the links between countries affect social, political and cultural aspects of those countries, building upon and developing the knowledge gained of in the Level 2 Portuguese Studies modules already studied. The aim is also to develop the learning of basic skills in making presentations, carrying out research, and problem solving.

20 Core/Optional

You can also choose to do a dissertation on a Portuguese topic, or the Learning and Teaching Foreign Languages module. For more information please see our School-wide modules.

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: 5 December 2019


Jessop West

Undergraduate scholarships

We have a range of undergraduate scholarships available to fund talented students starting an undergraduate course in 2020.