Undergraduate Studies

A degree in European languages at Oxford will teach you to write and speak the language(s) fluently. You will also be able to choose from a broad range of options including literature, intellectual history, linguistics, film studies and advanced translation. You can study the literature of a language by looking at authors or genres in depth, or focus on the medieval, the early modern, or the modern era.

The Oxford course emphasizes literature as an ideal way of enriching your understanding of the country and its language, history and culture. Early on in the course, students develop their study skills by covering a range of set texts spanning the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. If you haven’t studied much literature before, reading a couple of Russian authors in English translation (for example, short stories by Chekhov or Tolstoy) will help you decide whether this is for you, and give you something to talk about in your application.

A degree in Russian, or Russian combined with another language/subject, is normally four years in length. Students taking Beginners’ Russian spend their second year on a specially designed course in Yaroslavl, while those on the post A-level course go away in their third year, choosing from a variety of work or study options. Students gain tremendous satisfaction from living and working abroad and often form lasting friendships there. This experience frequently gives them a considerable edge in the job market when they graduate.

Detailed information about the degree programmes can be found here.

Please consider attending one of our open days to find out more.


Options for studying Russian at Oxford:

Russian for Beginners

If you choose to study Russian from scratch, it has to be taken in combination with another European language which you have already studied to A-level or equivalent. The first year is spent on intensive study of the language, consolidated during a compulsory seven-month course spent in Russia during your second year, when you will also start to read literary texts. You will use the summer vacations on either side of the year abroad to immerse yourself in the study of your other language. You then return to Oxford to join post A-level students in their second year, before proceeding to final year (which is the same for all students of Russian).


Russian post-A-level (or equivalent)

For students with A-level or equivalent knowledge of the language, Russian can be studied on its own as a single language, or in combination with certain other subjects.

Russian on its own

Students studying Russian as a single subject take core classes in Russian language and literature, plus first-year options in Cinema, Comparative Slavonic Philology and Russian Linguistics, and Polish from scratch.

Russian and another subject

If you are studying for a degree combining Russian with another subject, around half of the degree programme will consist of Russian language and literature, and around half will be made up of courses related to the other subject. Oxford offers the following subjects in combination with Russian:

  • English

  • Classics

  • History

  • Linguistics

  • Philosophy

  • A modern European language: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, or Czech (with Slovak). Students who do not have an A level or equivalent in the relevant language may (in all cases, except French or Spanish) combine Russian with another language taken from scratch. Polish can also be taken from the second year of the degree course.

  • A Middle Eastern language offered by the Faculty of Oriental Studies: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish. These languages are all available from scratch. The year abroad is taken in the second year.

Not all colleges accept students for all the subjects listed here. Go to the Coursefinder page to discover which colleges accept which languages and language combinations.



Check out subject combinations and UCAS codes here.

Find out about the admissions test and interview process here.

If you’re thinking about a gap year, contact the Admissions Tutor at your chosen college to make sure they allow deferred entry.

If you’re doing an A-level (or equivalent) in Russian, apply for our post A-level course (Course A). You can choose to take Russian on its own, or in combination with another subject. You’ll need to sit the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT), submit schoolwork, and attend interviews in Oxford.

Prospective undergraduates with little or no knowledge of Russian may also apply for the post A-level course. You would normally be expected to spend a gap year learning the language, for instance by attending a course in Russia. A small but significant number of applicants have taken up the language in this way, and many have gone on to do very well. If you’re thinking about this, contact the Admissions Tutor at your chosen college as early as possible (well before the UCAS deadline of 15th October) to discuss your plans.

If you haven’t studied Russian before and want to go straight from school to university without a gap year, you should apply for the Russian for Beginners course (Course B). You’ll need to sit the specially designed Language Aptitude Test (LAT) plus the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) for your other language, submit schoolwork, and attend interviews in Oxford.

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