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History and Modern Languages

  • Number of students per year: up to three
  • Typical offer: A*AA
  • Essential subjects: Modern Language A-Level (or equivalent), no formal requirements for those learning a language with no previous knowledge (ab initio)
  • Useful subjects: History, English

The interests of the current Fellows in History range widely across different periods and places. All of the History Fellows regularly teach Jesus undergraduates. We place particular emphasis on getting to know our undergraduates and teaching them in College, as well as sending them to expert supervisors in other Colleges. 

We have between 25 and 30 undergraduate historians at Jesus. There are also typically between 10 and 15 postgraduate students doing MPhil and PhD degrees in History and related subjects. Together, they form a lively and friendly community of historians. Our student run History Society and other events give students a chance to socialise together outside of work.

Recent Jesus history undergraduates have gone on to postgraduate study in history and other subjects, and to careers in areas including law, the civil service, the charity sector, management consultancy, journalism, social work, museum and gallery work, and theatre directing. 

We have teaching Fellows in the following modern languages: French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. They teach the language students in the College in their special areas of expertise.

Students of Italian are taught by Italian Fellows in other Colleges. Every year a French Lectrice or Lecteur from the the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris spends a year in College, and one of our students can go to the ENS for their year abroad in exchange.

There's also a thriving Modern Linguists’ Society which once or twice a term puts on talks by writers, academics, and journalists. We have also had former students giving talks on their careers after graduation. 

Find out more on the University webpage.
What we look for


Our typical conditional offer is an A* and two A grades at A-Level, though each offer is individually determined. You don't need to take Advanced Extension Awards.

History A-Level (or equivalent) is desirable, but not essential. You must have an A-Level (or equivalent) in your chosen Modern Language, unless you are opting to combine History with a language from scratch, which requires no previous knowledge. Whilst there are no formal requirements for starting a language from scratch, evidence of ability in learning a language beyond GCSE is desirable.

Languages options are German, Italian, Russian and Spanish from scratch or post-A Level (or equivalent); Portuguese from scratch; and French post-A Level (or equivalent).

We're very open minded in respect of other A-Level subjects. Languages and English are obviously particularly relevant, but we are also perfectly happy with other arts or social science subjects, Mathematics, and the sciences. Your academic potential, suitability, and keenness for the course are more important than the combination of subjects you've studied. 

Written assessment

You'll need to complete two written assessments. Your performance in the assessments won't be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

All applicants who are shortlisted for interview are required to take a written history assessment. You can find out more about the assessment on the University undergraduate History pages.

Shortlisted candidates will also be required to sit the Modern Languages assessment


In 2022-23, we’ll be interviewing shortlisted applicants virtually, with interviews taking place in December.

The interview process aims to assess your intellectual ability, potential, and commitment to the subject. Candidates typically have two interviews. One will be with the Directors of Studies for History or by other History Fellows, this interview may involve discussing source material. The other interview will be conducted by a relevant language specialist, and part of the interview will be conducted in that foreign language and will generally include discussion of a short written text that will be supplied beforehand. For those starting their chosen language from scratch, interviews will be held in English and will include discussion of language and culture.

Find out more about the interview process on the University website.

Written work

You will be asked to submit two pieces of written work you have completed at school. If you are applying for a post-A Level language, one piece of written work should be in the language you intend to study.

Deferred and post A-Level entry

We're happy to consider applications for immediate or deferred entry in History and Modern Languages.

We're also happy to consider post A-Level applications from those who have achieved (usually) A*AA at A-Level, including at least an A in a modern foreign language. You'll have to go through the normal competitive process with other applicants. We're also happy to consider second time applicants without prejudice. 

We welcome applications from mature students. Ideally you should be studying for or have recently completed a course such as an A-Level, Open University foundation course, or Access to Higher Education. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Find out how to apply to study at Jesus.