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Modern language

Most of our biological and biomedical sciences undergraduate courses can be studied with a modern language.

Joint language degrees involve a programme in which about two thirds of your time is spent studying one of our undergraduate courses in biosciences.

The remainder of your time is spent studying a language (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese or Mandarin).

These four-year degree courses with a modern language include a year spent conducting research in a research institute or university in a country where the language you are studying is spoken. Your placement year, subject to satisfactory academic performance and placement availability, will take place between your second year and final year.

Why do a degree with a modern language?

Studying a biological or biomedical degree with a modern language can:

  • improve your language skills;
  • gain an advantage in today's competitive jobs market;
  • see how your subject is applied in the world of work;
  • clarify your own career objectives.

Who is eligible for these courses?

You must meet our standard entry requirements  for the degree programme you are interested in studying, as well as the additional requirements for your language:

  • French, German, Italian or Spanish: Grade B at A-level in your chosen language or equivalent is required.
  • Japanese or Mandarin: No prior knowledge is assumed, but evidence of linguistic proficiency is required (eg GCSE A* in a foreign language). Chemistry AS-level (grade B) is essential.

Which courses offer a modern language option?

We offer degrees with a modern language in the following biosciences subjects. The below links will take you to the relevant 'with a modern language' course page on The University of Manchester website.

How many credits do I have to obtain each year in my chosen language?

This will depend on the language you choose. For most languages, you will need to acquire 20 credits per year, but this can be higher for certain other languages, such as Japanese, which requires 40 credits.

What will my timetable look like?

You will follow a typical biosciences timetable along with three one-hour language seminars per week, although this may vary depending on the language you choose.

How will I learn my chosen language?

Teaching and learning methods depend on the specific units that you choose. However, you will learn alongside other students taking a variety of language degrees at the University, giving you the opportunity to practice your skills with your fellow students and make new friends.

Where could you go on placement?

Placements are available at 25 universities throughout Europe and in China and Japan.

Find out more about what it's like to go on placement by reading about the experience of Michael Harris, who went to Japan during her placement year.

“Going abroad, being entirely independent and having to rely on yourself to figure out even the most basic aspects of daily life in a foreign country was an incredibly exciting and challenging experience. I think that learning what real research is like is also very important for any science student.”

Michael Harris / Genetics with a Modern Language


You will be given extensive help by staff in the Faculty in finding placements and your progress will be actively monitored.

Modest grants from the European Union are usually available that provide assistance for the cost of travel. In Japan, competitive scholarships are usually available.

The standard tuition fee for the language placement year is £1,350.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS for the relevant four year degree programme which includes ‘with a Modern Language’ in the title, eg Biology with a Modern Language.