Modern & Medieval Languages
At a glance
BA: 4 years (Year 3 spent abroad)
A Level or IB Higher Level in at least one modern language
A Level: A*AA
IB: 41-42 with 776 at Higher Level
MML Admissions Assessment (taken at interview). Two pieces of written work (submitted in advance of interview)
A degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge combines the study of two languages at the highest level with in-depth exploration of the literature, culture and history of the countries in which those languages are spoken. Students with two foreign languages at sixth-form level may continue to study both at Cambridge, but any student starting a degree in MML may take up their second language from scratch. We'd emphasize that students with a single foreign language at A Level or equivalent are very welcome to apply and will be considered very seriously.
Language work is combined with cultural, literary and historical elements from the outset; there is also the opportunity to study linguistics. In the first two years of the degree (Part I), students work to consolidate their language skills, before setting off to test their abilities in real-life contexts during the Year Abroad. The Faculty offers extensive advice to students planning their Year Abroad, but also allows them considerable freedom in choosing where to go and what to do there: studying in a foreign university, teaching in a school as a language assistant, or doing paid work are all possibilities. In the fourth year (Part II), students continue their language work at a very high level (typically specializing in a single language), while broadening and deepening their knowledge of foreign cultures with a range of advanced literary, historical and comparative papers, and dissertations based on personal research. These aspects of the course are frequently taught and supervised by international experts, and serve to make the degree in languages at Cambridge unique in its intellectual scope.
MML at Caius
Caius has a long tradition of excellence in Modern and Medieval Languages, and offers a vibrant and varied MML student community, with around thirty students in residence at any one time (with a further ten or so away on the Year Abroad). It also has one of the highest numbers of Fellows in MML of all the Cambridge Colleges. In French, Dr Laura McMahon's teaching and research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary French literature, thought and visual culture, with a particular focus on French cinema. Caius also has two Fellows in German: Dr Anita Bunyan, who teaches and researches in nineteenth and twentieth-century German literature and history, with a particular interest in German-Jewish culture; and Professor Joachim Whaley, an expert in German History and Thought from the sixteenth century to the present day. In Italian, Professor Robert Gordon is the Serena Professor of Italian and an expert in twentieth-century Italian literature, cinema and cultural history. In Linguistics, we have Dr Paula Buttery who is an expert on computational linguistics.
The College also has links with Modern Languages Fellows in other Colleges who teach all other Modern Languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, for the College. All students’ academic progress is supported by the Directors of Studies in MML, Dr Anita Bunyan and Dr Laura McMahon.
Caius is also one of the very few Colleges to have two resident native language lectors in French and German, who are available to help students with both spoken and written work. The lectors at Caius frequently organise film screenings and study trips to Germany and France. There is also an active MML society, run by the students.
Recent Caius MML graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers in teaching, academia, journalism, publishing, professional music, arts administration, the civil service, the diplomatic service, law, finance and overseas development.
Applicants to read MML at Cambridge should be studying at least one modern language at A-level or equivalent (studying two languages is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage). Beyond this, the flexibility of the course means that we are not seeking any particular academic profile, though subjects with a significant essay-writing element (History, English Literature, Classics) may be helpful. While the various non-linguistic aspects of the first-year MML course do not normally assume prior knowledge, candidates should show evidence of a lively interest in the cultures, histories or literatures behind the languages they study, and we hope that applicants to Caius will have engaged in some personal exploration of intellectual topics beyond those covered in their language A-level.
All candidates are asked to submit two pieces of written work. In cases where candidates are applying to continue studying two school languages at Cambridge, the work submitted should include at least one piece of work in both languages; those intending to take up a language from scratch should send at least one piece in the school language they will be pursuing at Cambridge. All suitably-qualified candidates are called to interview. Candidates are interviewed twice. Interviews will involve general discussion of candidates’ intellectual interests and interest in languages, as well as discussion of a text in one of the foreign languages offered. There will also be a written test, where candidates write a short response in the foreign language of their choice to a text in English.