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SP6: Introduction to Catalan Language and Literature


This paper is available for the academic year 2023-24.

This paper aims to offer to 2nd year MML students the opportunity to acquaint themselves with Catalan, a language of over ten million speakers on the North Eastern seaboard of Spain, South Eastern France, the Balearic Islands and a city in Sardinia. The course at 1B acts as a feeder for the final-year paper, Sp10, which offers more intensive study of the language, literature and cultures of the Catalan-speaking areas.

Students who want to take this paper do not have to have any prior knowledge of Catalan, although some knowledge of a cognate Romance idiom, especially Spanish, Portuguese or Italian is an advantage. Candidates should also make some effort to familiarise themselves with the language of Catalonia before the course starts. Like other beginners’ courses in MML, the teaching strategy will be fully communicative, inviting active participation in the eliciting of all four language skills. An introduction to Catalan literature is provided by the study of two collections of short stories (translations into English are available) by prominent female authors. Sp6 students are expected to achieve a similar standard, that of A-level, as is the case with other ab initio students. The teaching will also prepare candidates for the Certificat Internacional de Català awarded each year by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Preparatory reading: 
  • Catalan: An Essential Grammar, Dols, Nicolau; Mansell, Richard (Routledge)
  • A Companion to Catalan Culture, ed. Dominic Keown (Tamesis)
Teaching and learning: 

The language teaching is organised by a native teacher who is also the Batista i Roca Fellow at Fitzwilliam College. There are two weekly hours devoted to this activity. Lectures, seminars and supervisions on literature are imparted after the division of the Lent term.

We are also fortunate in having a well-equipped Catalan section in the Faculty Library, and a very wide range of works on all aspects of the Catalan-speaking areas in the University Library. The Language Centre receives Catalan television by satellite with resources including courses, dictionaries, films, grammar, reading, reference and external links. A further important resource for independent language study is the Faculty's Computer-Assisted Language Learning Facility (CALL). The long-term aim of the CALL Facility, which opened in 1997, is to integrate computing into MML's teaching and research. Catalan-related resources on the World Wide Web may also be accessed from the CALL Facility web pages. There is a Moodle page for language learning which runs in tandem with the classes and provides details about web-assisted learning.

Summer courses

It is important to try and attend a language course in the Catalan-speaking areas during the vacation. There are various courses, and some scholarships are available. Colleges will often provide grants or travel awards. Details of summer courses are available from the Batista i Roca Fellow during Lent term.

Continuing study

SP6 may be taken in IB and offered as a Year Abroad Project with a view to continuing study in the final year as an Optional Dissertation, on comparative papers (CS1, CS5, CS6) or, on the course on contemporary peninsular culture (SP9) which also includes elements of the creative output of Catalonia. Please note that the Part II continuation of Catalan Cultural Studies, SP10, is available as an optional dissertation only for the year 2020/21. It will be offered as a taught paper for the year 2021/22.


Assessment for the language component will be by a two-hour end-of-year written examination and an oral examination lasting for some 10-12 minutes (SP6O, scheduled for week 4 of the Easter Term). The oral and the written paper (here) will be concerned with linguistic proficiency, amounting to two thirds of the marks overall. Assessment for the literature component will be by a take-home based exam in which candidates will answer one essay question on the topics and readings of this part of the course.

See also Oral A here for more information

Course Contacts: 
Dr Ares Llop (Paper Coordinator)
Dr Isaias Fanlo