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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


FAQs for MMLL students planning their Year Abroad (Part IB)

FAQs for MMLL students planning their Year Abroad (Part IB)

Please note that this information is currently under review for students planning their Year Abroad in 2021/22 and will be updated shortly. 

The Faculty recognises that this is an anxious and uncertain time for Part IB students planning their Year Abroad. Below are some commonly asked questions about Year Abroad planning in light of the coronavirus outbreak. These were drawn up following discussion between Faculty staff and student representatives (Gemma Watts and Alfie Vaughan), which is ongoing. Note that the Faculty’s responses can only be provisional and tentative in what is a rapidly-evolving situation with a large number of variables. Please check back regularly for updates. Students may also wish to check the University’s central coronavirus FAQs page.


Will the Year Abroad go ahead in 2020-21?

Probably, in some form. The Faculty considers the Year Abroad an integral part of any Modern Languages Tripos, and is determined that some version of it should go ahead if at all possible. Please note that this outcome does not depend on the Faculty alone, but also on our Erasmus+ partner institutions, companies offering work placements, and also the arrangements of the wider University, as well as on evolving government advice and regulation in the UK and other countries. The Faculty continues to liaise with all relevant parties as the situation develops.


Might start of the Year Abroad be delayed?

Yes: this is one imaginable scenario, though the Faculty would aim to begin the Year Abroad as soon as it is feasible. Even a January start date would still leave students time to complete the standard 8-month period abroad. That would leave open the question of how and where students would continue their studies in Michaelmas 2020: the Faculty continues to work on contingency planning for this and other scenarios.


Might the 8-month minimum requirement be waived, and shorter placements possible?

Yes – again this is possible, and certainly preferable to outright cancellation of the Year Abroad. For example, this minimum requirement has been waived for the current Year Abroad. The 8-month term is a Faculty requirement, and it is in the Faculty’s power to agree to a shorter period.


If I am planning to spend part of my year on a work placement, should I continue to send in applications at this time?

Yes. Some companies have suspended hiring owing to uncertainty over their future, but others continue to advertise. If you are planning to split your year between study and work, one possible strategy could be to plan your work placement for later in the year (see below).


Is an Erasmus study placement a more reliable route in the current climate?

Possibly. Our partner universities across Europe face the same uncertainties as we do. That said, they are perhaps less vulnerable to sudden collapse or changes in policy as some of the small- and medium-sized companies offering internships. If you are determined to go on a work placement for part of the year, one solution might be to set this up for your second or third placement: the later in the year it comes, the more likely companies are to have clarified their arrangements.


Are there sufficient Erasmus places on offer to cope with any rise in demand?

Yes, though these are being filled rapidly. Several places are still available in Italy, but only a handful in France, Spain and Portugal (as of 14 April).


If it turns out that I am unable to split the year between my two language areas, will this be taken into account in any Part II assessments?

Yes, at cohort-level (any system of individually calibrated allowances will be difficult to operate fairly). Faculty staff, in concert with external examiners, will be alert to any anomalies in the markbook, and ready to adjust accordingly. You will also have the opportunity to mitigate the effects of a curtailed Year Abroad through your Part II paper choices.


Will I still need to do a Year Abroad Project?

Yes, though it may differ slightly from normal depending on the degree of disruption. The Faculty sees the YAP as a key part of the Year Abroad. If the Year Abroad is shortened or limited in some way, the Faculty will discuss possible adjustments (e.g. a reduction in the word-count or change to the deadline). Please continue to make arrangements with a supervisor for your Year Abroad Project, and keep an eye on your emails for updates on deadlines for submission of your Year Abroad topic, as these may change.