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How to Apply

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


How to Apply: FAQs

Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions we receive from candidates applying to study MML:

What do we look for in UCAS applications?

The UCAS personal statement allows you an opportunity to tell us what you find most interesting about your chosen subject, and why you want to continue to study it at university. We often use it as one starting point for discussion at interview, but not always.  There are many ways of demonstrating an interest in the subject, but the most important is showing evidence of further reading in your spare time. We hope you will tell us about what you have read outside school, and what you thought of it.

As well as evidence of your motivation to explore your interest in the subject independently, we also look for:

  • good written English,
  • evidence of what and how you think: rather than listing titles you've read, try describing why you enjoyed reading these books, and what you thought of them. Don’t just tell us you’ve read the French news or visited an exhibition, but show us what you have thought about them: what questions have these things provoked? what have you noticed in particular? can you make comparisons or connections?
  • honesty: you don't have to pretend to be someone you're not. We are looking for bright, interested, motivated, real people.   

What are we looking for in submitted written work?

If the College you apply to asks you to submit written work, it is important to know that you don't need to write something specially. When we read work you have done for school, we are looking for evidence of good written language skills, coherent structure, and effective analysis and argument.

What will we talk about at interview? 

Your thoughts and ideas! We will ask you about what you have studied and read for pleasure, about what you have explored beyond your school curriculum. Reading outside of your school studies is an important way of demonstrating your initiative and enthusiasm, but you might have also watched films, plays, visited exhibitions, traveled or worked abroad. (Please be assured, though, that for MML we do not expect you to have already traveled to the countries where your languages are spoken and the lack of such experience does not put you at a disadvantage.)

In subject interviews for MML you should expect to be asked to speak in those languages for which you are applying and which you are studying at A-level or equivalent. This part of the interview is unlikely to take more than 10 minutes. The interviewers will also want to give you adequate opportunities to demonstrate your aptitude for the other elements of our course co, e.g. the literature, linguistics, visual culture or history and thought associated with the languages you want to study.

In a lot of MML interviews, the applicant is given short passage (in the foreign language) to read just before the interview and asked what she or he thinks about it. This is not a vocabulary test, nor a quiz that’s trying to get the ‘right answer’ from you: we are interested to see how you respond to new material, and will discuss the passage in dialogue with you.

How can I prepare?

We encourage you to read and explore widely in advance, and think about what you have read and seen. It can be a good idea to read pre-twentieth century works as well as more contemporary writing. You can also read or watch the news in different languages, for example.  When you are encountering texts and other media by yourself, it can be a good idea to ask yourself questions: how do these works compare to other ones you know?  Do these books or films ask any big questions about the nature of life, experience, identity, history? If so, do they give straightforward answers?  What are the effects of any ‘strange’ things about these works that perhaps you don’t understand at first?  These are just suggestions: what matters most of all is ambitious exploring and thinking outside school.

For inspiration, you may want to have a look at the HE+ website

What should I be reading?

There is no one answer to this question. The truth is, anything you like, and everything that interests you. You should challenge yourself, however, to move beyond the texts you feel comfortable and secure amongst, and beyond the confines of any A-level set texts. If you are applying to study a language from scratch, then you will, of course, be beginning your explorations in translation. The section on Resources for Students offers some guidance on this question.

How to Apply