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Italian in the Year Abroad

The Year Abroad in Italy

Entries in the MMLL Year Abroad Photographic Competition

Photo credits © Hannah Reynolds | Philipa Kirby | India Nash | Tabitha Bardsley 

Italy proves (almost invariably) to be a particularly happy destination on the year abroad. It is also noticeable that students, especially those, who have begun Italian at Cambridge achieve fullest fluency and the fullest benefit from their course here by choosing to spend their year abroad in Italy. 

Options available in Italy for your Year Abroad

Study: The Section has academic partnerships with a number of universities: Università di Bologna, Firenze, Genova, Milano, Padova, Pavia, Pisa (Scuola Normale) Napoli, Roma, Siena, Venezia). You can select any course of interest. Academic terms in Italy run late September-January, February-June (dates may vary).

Work: You are advised to consult the most up to date information on past jobs contacts on the Italian Year Abroad Moodle page. For this option, it is generally the  case that jobs, often unpaid, are found through students’ contacts or research. Au pairing and waiting tables are not approved as possible jobs. 

Teaching: English language assistantship through the British Council (contracts of 9 months only).

Where to get information about the Year Abroad

The Faculty Year Abroad Office: please refer to Faculty Year Abroad Office website for information about the application process to your preferred option(s) and for financial and administrative information on the Turing scheme. 

The Faculty Year Abroad Office organises preparatory meetings and sets the deadline for confirming your choice(s).

Your College DoS: Over the course of the second year of the Tripos you will have the opportunity to discuss your plans for the Year Abroad with your Director of Studies, who can also give you advice on the required academic work of the Year Abroad.

The Italian Section: On the Italian Year Abroad Moodle page you can find the most updated information about options available, help with applications (cv writing, visa paperwork, etc.) and any updated information of contacts, job offers, and more.

Please contact the Italian Section Year Abroad contact (Dott. Claudia Domenici, cd502) for advice or support on any aspect of your stay in Italy.

Italian Section Year Abroad information meetings

  1. At the end of part IA, Dott. Domenici holds a preliminary Year Abroad in Italy information meeting (Year Abroad Fair), to highlight the options available and point you in the right direction to explore more about what is available to you to do in Italy during your Year Abroad.
  2. In the first weeks of the Michaelmas term the Section organises a social event where more detailed information is given on the available destinations, and where Part II students who have spent time in Italy during their Year Abroad share their experience with part IB students, preparing to go out. There is always plenty of time to put questions to the speakers and to talk informally with them and other members of the Section.

Year Abroad Academic Work

The year abroad is an integral part of the MML Tripos, and the first year of Part II.  Therefore, you are required to complete one piece of assessed work, to be submitted at the start of Part II, and discussed in the course of your Oral C examination.

This work may take the form either of a dissertation or a translation project. Although this is not compulsory, it will normally relate to the culture of the country in which you have chosen to spend your year abroad.

The dissertation

This is a study of a particular aspect of Italian literature, history, language, or culture. It should be an original piece of work (i.e., based on your own research and thinking), presented to a good finished standard, and between 7000 and 8000 words long. A selection of dissertation topics chosen by students in Italian over the past few years is given below as an appendix.

The translation project

This consists of a translation into English of a passage or series of passages from an Italian text or texts, along with a short introduction, giving details of the text chosen and discussing the principles and strategies adopted in the translation. The text/s chosen for translation may be literary or non-literary and may date from any period of Italian culture. They may be works with a rich existing translation history or recently-published texts which have never been translated. The normal word-length for the extracts chosen will be c. 2000-3000 words, although in the case of particularly difficult texts, shorter extracts will be acceptable. The whole project should be between 6000 and 7000 words long.

Supervision arrangements

It is envisaged that you will establish contact with your dissertation/translation project supervisor in the Easter term of your second year. This is vitally important, in fact, especially if you are intending to offer a dissertation. While it will be possible to have contact with your supervisor during your year abroad — the equivalent of four hour's supervision is permitted, whether conducted in person or 'virtually'— it obviously makes sense to take advantage of the final term of your second year in Cambridge to ask your supervisor for bibliographical guidance and to run your initial ideas for your argument past him or her, so that you have a fairly clear idea of the direction you want to pursue by the time you leave for your year abroad.

In general, when planning your work for your dissertation, you should bear in mind that the deadline for submission for year abroad work is the beginning of the Michaelmas Term of your final year, and that you cannot expect supervisors to be available to read your work over the long vacation, as this is a period they will be devoting to their own research. You should aim ideally, therefore, to have a first draft of your dissertation ready to send to your supervisor for comment by around Christmas of your year abroad, and a more finished draft by around Easter, or May/June at the latest. 


Examples of dissertation topics in Italian


  • Dante's concept of pietà
  • Sacred and secular in late-medieval civic art in Tuscany and Umbria
  • A comparative study of Franciscan influence in the works of Dante and Giotto
  • Franciscan attitudes to poverty in their social context
  • Dante and the papacy: Boniface and Beatrice in context
  • Dante and the classical poets
  • Boccaccio's Corbaccio
  • Byzantine art in Sicily


  • Michelangelo's Vatican Pietà and Florence Pietà : finito or non-finito?
  • The representation of the Judith and Holofernes theme in Italian art, 1550-1650
  • 'Difesa delle donne': a study of feminist writings in early modern Venice, with particular reference to the works of Arcangela Tarabotti
  • The propagandistic use of art in the political context of the Renaissance courts of Italy, focussing on Milan (fifteenth to sixteenth centuries)
  • Italian epic with particular reference to the Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo
  • Ariosto's Orlando Furioso and its reflections in the visual arts


  • The treatment of history in the novels of three twentieth-century Italian women writers
  • Silent communication: the physical texts of Dacia Maraini and Oriana Fallaci
  • Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Savinio, and the early 'ritorno all'ordine'
  • Ideals of reality in the literature and history of the Italian Risorgimento
  • Calvino and his use of the image of the labyrinth between 1957 and 1985
  • The cultural and social formation of an anti-hero in the novels of Italo Svevo
  • The representation of women in post-war Italian film and literature
  • Futurism in Italy based on works of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876—1944)
  • Modern Sicilian Literature
  • The Enlightenment in national and local context: Enlightenment ideas and their development between Paris and Milan.


  • Investigation into morphosyntax of Italian songs
  • Interjections and their use throughout the Italian peninsula
  • A study of the dialect of Venice
  • The language of Italian pop music
  • The influence of German on Rhaeto-Romance dialects
  • The language of Italian advertising
  • A sociolinguistic study of the use of Italian and dialect in Emilia-Romagna

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