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A Modern Languages degree - a career advantage

Oxford aims to produce world-class linguists, and the skills gained and fostered by studying languages at degree level are much prized by employers. Their knowledge and transferable skills ensure that modern linguists are among the most sought-after graduates in Britain. Among the careers successfully followed by modern linguists are: journalism, management, law, teaching and lecturing, arts and administration, civil and diplomatic service, environmental and development work, and many more.

The Faculty's graduating students of summer 2010 have a higher percentage in employment or further study than the University average (93% > 87%), and an even smaller figure in unemployment. National data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency indicate, furthermore, that Modern Languages graduates have one of the highest rates of employment across all subject areas, exceeded only by medical disciplines and law.

The University's Careers Service has expertise in advising modern linguists in their graduate prospects, including a large range of international opportunities.

Skills acquired by language graduates

The table below shows the subject-related and transferable skills that a language student is expected to develop. A more detailed description is available at:

Intellectual skills
  • Exercise critical judgement and undertake sophisticated analysis
  • Argue persuasively
  • Approach problems with creativity and imagination
  • Develop the exercise of independence of mind, and a readiness to challenge and criticise accepted opinion
Practical skills
  • Write well in a manner which can be adapted for a variety of audiences and contexts
  • Engage in oral discussion and argument with others, in a way that advances understanding of the problems at issue and the appropriate approaches and solutions to them
  • Ensure that a range of evidence and opinion can be brought to bear on a problem, and to develop research skills to this end
  • Employ advanced language skills in oral and written contexts
Transferable skills
  • Find information, organise and deploy it
  • Draw on such information to consider and analyse complex problems, in ways that are imaginative and sensitive to the norms and traditions of other cultures
  • Work well independently, with a strong sense of self-direction, but with the ability to work constructively in co-operation with others
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively in a variety of written and oral formats
  • Plan and organise the use of time effectively
  • Employ language skills at an advanced level

Destinations for 2009-10 language leavers

The data below are based on 173 undergraduates and 56 postgraduates who responded to a survey about their activities six months after leaving.





Breakdown of Further Study - Undergraduates


Breakdown of Further Study - Postgraduates


Which sectors do Modern Languages graduates work in?

Studying languages opens up career paths which are built round language skills, such as translation, interpreting or teaching. Language skills can also give you a competitive advantage quite literally in every other career, and a languages degree fosters a wide range of cognitive, communicative and other ‘transferable’ skills that are highly valued by employers. The below infographic shows just how varied the career paths of linguists can be. The data was compiled by the Careers Service at the University of Oxford from graduates of Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, six months after leaving.