Dr Stuart Davis
College Officer, Fellow, Director of Studies
Girton is an excellent place to study Modern and Medieval Languages (MML), and has one of the larger cohorts of MML students in Cambridge, 7 or 8 in each year group. Our modern linguists study a diverse range of languages, and come from very different backgrounds. Girton offers a thriving community in which linguists support one another, and share their developing interests across this wide-ranging degree course, which takes in literature, film, thought, linguistics, and history.
Girton is fortunate to have a dynamic and supportive core of teaching Fellows in Modern Languages, specialising in Spanish and French, as well as a Senior Language Teaching Officer in Italian. College Directors of Studies (DoS) in MML are here to offer individual guidance about the course, and to help students explore their interests and develop their potential. Students meet with their DoS regularly to discuss their progress, and their future plans, whether those be for their Year Abroad or for the potential modules (‘papers’) they might choose. Supervisions take place, where possible, in College. For languages that we do not cover in-house, we have longstanding links with excellent supervisors in other Colleges. Each year, Girton receives a French lecteur from the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, who supports our French students through small-group supervision in the language. We also have a unique exchange to send a Girton MML student to Lyon during their Year Abroad. This kind of contact with native-speakers is provided in other languages too.
Girton is committed to supporting MML students to accelerating their language learning. It has two dedicated funds for MML students: the Marion Hird Blackwell Trust Fund, to support modern linguists wishing to follow vacation courses abroad, and the Ruth Morgan Fund, to support modern linguists to undertake a short project of intellectual interest abroad. The College Library has an extensive MML section, which is well-stocked with the key texts and films you will be studying. Funds are available for keeping the MML collections up-to-date, and students are always welcome to suggest new acquisitions.
Every year there are several social events for linguists. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni, there are several prizes and financial awards for students who perform well in university assessments.
Watch the short video ‘Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge’, which includes two Girton Fellows – Stuart Davis and Claudia Domenici – and two recent Girton MML graduates, Rosalind and Jack.
Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge is regularly rated as the best in the country by University Guides – there is nowhere better to study French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish as main languages, and to try out Catalan, Modern Greek, Polish, Portuguese or Ukrainian as options.
MML is one of the most varied courses on offer. Not only do you gain high level fluency in two languages, one of which can be studied from scratch, but you also study some of the world’s best writers, filmmakers, artists and philosophers, explore history and culture or try out the study of linguistics. While some papers give you in-depth knowledge of a particular period in a particular location, others allow you to study comparatively across three languages in one essay.
The first year of the course involves language development and an introductory paper (a year-long course) on culture for each language. Depending on the language, the culture paper will introduce you to different aspects of the degree that you can cover in more detail in the second and final years: different periods of literature, film, linguistics, art, history or philosophy. The second and final years maintain language development while also giving you lots of opportunities to shape the degree to your interests, in the areas just mentioned, or pick up another language such as Catalan or Modern Greek. The Year Abroad is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy time immersed in the language(s) you are studying, studying, working or teaching English. Recent Girton students have spent time in Italy, France, Germany and as far afield as Eastern Russia, Chile and Brazil. The course also allows final year students to ‘borrow’ from a short list papers taught by other Faculties, such as Management Studies, English, History, Politics or Theoretical Linguistics.
Read more about the MML course on the Faculty’s website.
Masters courses that may be of interest to MML include the MPhil in European Literature and Culture and the MPhil in Screen Media and Cultures.
Research and postgraduate students are admitted to the University by the Board of Graduate Studies. You must therefore apply centrally and not to the College, however you must be admitted to a College to be able to study at the University. To ensure that this is Girton you need to indicate this on your application form.
MML graduates go into a wide range of careers following graduation. Many have gone into business posts abroad where their language skills have been a strong asset, such as developing Latin American markets for a Spanish telecommunications company, or working in the technology industry in Paris. Others continue studying at universities both in the UK and abroad, take up teaching careers, work in the charity sector or train as lawyers. The Year Abroad offers a valuable opportunity to explore career avenues and students often find themselves returning to their Year Abroad destinations after graduation.
Listen to recent Girton graduate Rosalind talk about the benefits of studying languages: