MA (Hons) Modern Languages, Communication and Cultures

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Delivery type

Study a modern language of your choice to an advanced level, from beginner or intermediate starting point. Develop professional communication skills and study societies, cultures and political systems where Chinese, French, German or Spanish are spoken.


Got questions about this programme?

Contact our enquiries team.


Heriot-Watt University ranked 2nd for German, 2nd for Iberian Languages and 3rd for French in Scotland in the Complete University Guide 2022. We are accredited as a higher education partner by the Chartered Institute of Linguists. 

Study at least one language to degree level:

  • Chinese (UCAS Code: C4CC)
  • French (UCAS Code: C4CF)
  • German (UCAS Code: C4CG)
  • Spanish (UCAS Code: C4CS)
  • Beginner Pathway (UCAS Code: C4CB)

MA Modern Languages, Communication & Cultures gives you the opportunity to study Chinese, French, German or Spanish from beginner/intermediate level to a proficient standard in four years. 

On this degree, Language skills are combined with advanced communication skills and studied alongside the societies, cultures, and political systems of the countries where your chosen language is spoken. 

This degree allows you to choose either Chinese, French, German or Spanish and spend Year 3 studying one or two semesters abroad, immersed in your chosen language and culture. 

Start from Beginner or Intermediate Level

This degree can be studied by individuals with no prior language learning, using Heriot-Watt's tried and tested beginner pathway for language learning, which allows students to ‘catch up' during Year 1 and join standard language courses by Year 2 of the degree. 

If you have not achieved at least B in A-Level or A in Higher in your chosen language (Chinese, French, German or Spanish), please apply for our Beginner Pathway (UCAS: C4CB).

There is sufficient flexibility in the programme structure to allow you to select courses in areas of specific interest, such as business, economics and intercultural studies. 


We are an official higher education partner of the Chartered Institute of Linguists – a professional body that maintains the highest standards for practising interpreters and translators: Chartered Institute of Linguists

In addition, we are founding members of CIUTI, the world's oldest and most prestigious international association of universities who train interpreters and translators: CIUTI

Course content

Year 1

Semester 1

  • Introduction to Language and Intercultural Studies
  • Language: Intermediate 1 (15 credits) or Language: Intensive for Beginners 1* (30 credits)
  • Elective (if taking Language: Intermediate 1)
  • Option: Critical Writing & Analysis or Employability & Professional Skills

Semester 2

  • Introduction to World History and Culture
  • Language*: Intermediate 2 (15 credits) or Language: Intensive for Beginners 2* (30 credits)
  • Elective* (if taking Language: Intermediate 2)
  • Option: Critical Writing & Analysis or Employability & Professional Skills

*Language = Chinese, French, German or Spanish

*Elective is a choice of any course from across the university, with some exceptions. Those taking the more advanced 15-credit language courses, French: Intermediate, will take an elective in each semester

*Language: Intensive for Beginners is for students with little or no knowledge of their chosen language. It is the equivalent of two standard, 15 credit, courses. Those sitting this course do not take electives in Year 1.

Year 2

Semester 1

  • Societies and Institutions in Contemporary World
  • Language*: Advanced 1
  • Scottish Studies or Intercultural Issues in Business Management or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • Elective

Semester 2

  • General Linguistics
  • Film and Cultures
  • Language: Advanced 2
  • Elective

*Language = Chinese, French, German or Spanish

Year 3

Students spend at least part of stage 3 abroad, either studying at a partner institution or working in countries where studied languages are spoken such as China, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Mexico. All students must spend one semester abroad but may spend the full year abroad if they wish. If one semester is spent abroad, students will return to Edinburgh to undertake supervised project work in the second semester.

Year 4

Semester 1

  • Dissertation (1)
  • Language Proficiency 1
  • International Politics and Organisations
  • Option

Semester 2

  • Dissertation (2)
  • Language Proficiency 2
  • Comparative Social and Cultural Issues
  • Option
Optional courses:
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Sustainable Development and the Intercultural Context

Discover Uni course data

Discover Uni provides data on each university's degree courses across a range of measures including student satisfaction, graduate jobs and salaries.


Work and study

This is what our MA (Hons) students are doing 15 months after graduating:

  • 80% are working
  • 5% are studying
  • 5% are working and studying.


  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £25000
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £24000

Potential career paths

  • Business, Research and Administrative Professionals
  • Finance Professionals
  • Business and public service associate professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers AABB (A in chosen language, unless studying Beginner Pathway)
  • A-Levels BBC - ABB (B in chosen language, unless studying Beginner Pathway)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 30 points (HL 5 in chosen language, unless studying Beginner Pathway)
  • HNC B in graded unit 
  • HND BB

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (B in chosen Language)
  • A-Levels BCC (B in chosen Language)

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

Our language degrees include a compulsory year abroad at Level 3 so the normal entry route for all language degrees is to Year 1 for a four-year honours course. However, candidates with outstanding Advanced Highers or A-Level results may be considered on an individual basis. 

  • A-Level: ABB with A in main language
  • Advanced Higher: BB with B in main Language and AABB at Higher

Year 3

As our languages courses include a compulsory year abroad at Level 3, the normal entry route for all languages courses is to Year 1 of a four-year honours course. However, candidates with outstanding Advanced Highers or A-Level results may be considered on an individual basis.

Additional information

English language requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £18,704

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.