Course Guide

Modern & Medieval Languages

MML, Modern and Medieval Languages, is a very flexible degree right from the start. First year students study two languages out of French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. One of these can be a new language, but the other has to be one you've already studied to A level standard. Typically, between 150-200 offers are given out each year, and these students will be divided up between the six languages. For each language, we study literature and how to use the language itself. In our third year, we all take a year abroad. On this year, we have the chance to study, work or teach. Some students choose to spend time in just one country, others split their time so they can practice both their languages! It's a really exciting time to take a break from our main studies and work out what we'd like to focus on in final year, as well as enjoying experiencing the cultures we've been learning about!

Introducing your Academic Reps

Rachel Durban

Hi, I'm Rachel. I'm a third-year MML student at Corpus Christi College, and I've just come back from my year abroad in Nice (France) and Konstanz (Germany). Since I started at Cambridge I've been involved with the SU's Cambtweet initiative, sharing posts about life at Cambridge over on Twitter. It's really important to me to show the reality of studying here to prospective students, from the highs of meeting new friends, joining societies and interesting seminars, to the lows of fatigue, less-preferred modules and the other stresses that come with student life. I've loved my time at Cambridge so far, and I'm really excited to be moving back into college this September!

Key Facts

Average offer: A*AA

4 years (3rd year abroad)

Available at all colleges

Key subjects for admission: at least one of the languages to be studied

Written test at interview

No info on inclusive prayer space in department:(


Why did you want to study MML?


I always found languages easy to grasp at school and have enjoyed exploring different cultures. The inter-discplinary strcuture of MML means that you do a bit of everything: translation, speaking and grammar are an obvious feature but you also get to explore politics, film, literature, art, philosophy and history just to name a few. In MML you really feel like you're doing a bit of everything and the fact that you spend the majority of time studying a minimum of 2 languages means that there is always a variety of things to get engaged with (plus everyone thinks you're cool for knowing how to speak different languages). The year abroad is also a big bonus.


I love how languages allow us to explore any and all of our interests. Students are encouraged to work on such a wide variety of topics, it's really exciting to be able to work out your own interests and then to be able to research them from multiple cultural perspectives. Although it's difficult, I also love picking up new languages, and I love how the Cambridge course encourages us to do this!

How is the MML course structured?


So you start of first year doing two languages, at least one of them from a post-A level standard (you can start a language from scratch as well). You grammar classes 1-3 times a week in each language depending on which you pick as well as translation classes every other week. You also do a culture/literature paper in each language which you will have 1-2 hours a week of lectures on (these are in English) and then you will also have a supervision on these every other week. Oral supervisions are once a week and are conducted in the target language. These papers form the basis of the entire course but the structure differs from year to year.


MML is a 4 year course. We spend out first two years studying the grammar and literature, history and linguistics of our two chosen languages, and then we spend our third years abroad. While at Cambridge, we write essays for cultural (literature, linguistics, history) papers, and do grammar and translations as well as presentations for language modules. On the year abroad, we complete a year abroad project, which can either be an essay, a translation or a linguistics project. During the year, we can spend time in either one or two countries, and choose between studying at a host university, teaching as an English language assistant in schools, or finding a paid or unpaid job.

What is the faculty building like?


The MML faculty is in the Raised Faculty Building which is an absolute maze at first glance. The RFB is mainly used for supervisions that are not done in college and seminar-style classes like grammar and translation classes. The MML library is a favourite across the entire university, all my STEM friends like to go there because it's just good vibes. Most lectures take place in the lecture block that is next door which is used by most humanities subjects. Sidgwick Site has so many libraries to choose from, 2 cafes and is right next to the University Library which is always worth a visit. Since pretty much all humanities students have classes and lectures on Sidgwick Site daily, you will always run into someone you know.


Although from the outside the Raised Faculty Building at Sidgwick looks a little foreboding, the language faculty is actually amazing. The library in particular is a really friendly space to work, with biscuits often available on Fridays, as well as blankets, drinks and beanbags available year round. The librarians are really friendly, too, and there are some big windows looking down onto the grassy court in the middle of the building! In the building as a whole it can be a bit difficult at first to find specific classrooms, but you find out your way around soon enough, and everyone is friendly and happy to help you if you get lost during your first few weeks.

What is the workload like?


You will normally have 2-3 hours of lectures in a week (mine are normally between 10am and 3pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). As I did Spanish from scratch, in first year I had 3 hours of Spanish grammar a week (a two-hour class on Tuesday and 1 hour on Friday). I would then have a Spanish speaking supervision once a week and also a French one. I would also have an extra Spanish grammar supervision every other week so sometimes I would have 4 hours of Spanish grammar a week. Translation classes are once every fortnight and so are literature supervisions which you have to write a 1500 word essay for. Those are the contact hours, but you will also have to do work in preparation for most of those, so there is a lot of independent working involved.


The workload for MML is divided up into small deadlines throughout the week. I usually write a literature essay each week, and in y first year I'd have a piece of grammar homework to do most days, to hand in either the next day or the next week. Sometimes, we'd also have extra readings to do for seminars (which sometimes replace lectures, especially on smaller modules) or presentations to write for supervisions. Especially if you're doing an ab initio (new) language, you'll also have vocab and grammar to learn each week.

What about your course would you change?


I would love to see more diversity within culture papers, especially in first year. My first year French culture/literature paper was very traditional and I didn't relate to it at all or find it very interesting. Now I am in second year and can pick papers more suited to my interests, I love what I am studying at the moment and my grades have transformed. As for Spanish, going from up to 4 hours of grammar practice to 1 in second year is quite difficult to adjust to and I often find myself having to catch up with the first post-A level Spanish students which is hard when my schedule is a lot more hectic than theirs. But overall, the MML faculty do a good job.


I'd love there to be more coherency between the language departments, as sometimes the lack of communication means that some weeks become very full, whereas other weeks are a lot emptier

A typical timetable

Rachel's timetable

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Weekend
9am Vocab & Grammar Practice Vocab & Grammar Practice   Class (French translation)    
10am Class (Ab Initio German) Class (Ab Initio German) Essay writing Class (Ab Initio German) Class (Ab Initio German) Essay reading and research
11am Essay reading German Homework Lecture (German history & literature) Class (Use of French) German Homework
12pm   Review lecture notes   Essay reading  
1pm   Lecture (French Grammar)   German Homework    
2pm   Review lecture notes Vocab & Grammar Practice French Homework Supervision Prep Vocab & Grammar Practice
3pm Lecture (French history & literature) Essay writing Supervision Prep   Supervision (French/German Literature ) Finish assignments
4pm Review lecture notes Supervision (Speaking practice) Final essay edits Translation Work


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Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.