What can I study Italian with?

The University of Edinburgh
College of Humanities and Social Science
April 2014
What is Italian?
What can I study Italian with?
Studying Italian at university level offers you the chance to become
familiar with the language, culture and history of one of Europe’s
most creative and distinctive civilisations. Throughout its long
history, impressive cultural continuity has sat alongside spectacular
political and social upheaval, affording today’s students a unique
glimpse into the dynamics of a society very different from their own.
The range of joint degrees with Italian is
outlined in the table below. In joint Modern
European Language degrees, both languages
are given equal weighting. If you are taking
European Union Studies with one or two
languages, fewer of the literature options are
studied in final year. In the case of joint degrees
with Italian and History of Art, History,
Linguistics, or Politics, you will devote
approximately two-thirds of your time to Italian
and one third on the other subject area.
Why study Italian at Edinburgh?
In addition to linguistic training, students also
follow ‘content’ courses in history, literature
and culture, designed not only to acquaint
students with aspects of Italian civilisation, but
also to develop critical and technical skills in
Italian has officially been taught at the
University since 1919. There has always been a
strong tradition at Edinburgh of the subject
being delivered by a creative mix of native
Italians and UK specialists, so as to provide
multiple perspectives, as well as a genuine feel
for the language. All six full-time members of
staff are Italian. Library facilities, built up over
many years, are excellent, and are augmented
by substantial collections in the Italian Cultural
Institute (3 minutes walk) and the National
Library of Scotland (10 minutes walk). More
students graduate in Italian from Edinburgh
than from any other Scottish university, and this
critical mass, coupled with the presence of
many students from Italy, postgraduates and
exchange students, means that there is a
vibrant and stimulating atmosphere which
generates real enthusiasm.
In the second year, students continue to refine
their language skills, whilst branching out into
more ambitious academic study of aspects of
Italian literature and culture.
If specialising in Italian, students normally spend
the third year attending university in Italy.
Please see ‘Study Abroad’ section overleaf.
Students then return in fourth year to pursue
option courses, which include: Cities in Postwar
Italian Literature; Cleaning up the Mess: Gadda,
Cultural Identity and Geographical
Displacement in Postwar Narrative; Hypernovel
from Boccaccio to Manganelli; Italo Calvino:
Four Decades of Renewal; Narrative Models:
Manzoni and Verga; Italo Svevo: Fiction from the
Deep; Baroque: an Italian Introduction to the
What does the degree involve?
Italian can be studied here either after
obtaining a recognised university entrance
qualification in the subject, or as a beginner’s
course (the majority of our students, and some
of our best graduates, are beginners). In either
case, the first year has a heavy emphasis on
practical language acquisition, both for reading
and writing, and for speaking.
Please note: not all options are offered in any
one year; options will only be taught if there is
sufficient uptake, and there is also a limit on the
total number of students per option.
Students following certain curricula, e.g. the
joint degree in Modern European Languages,
write a dissertation based on personal research
during their final year.
Language teaching is in small groups with native
speakers. Though the learning curve is steep,
the sensation of making real progress in the
language is very rewarding.
Degrees in Humanities and Social Science
MA Honours in:
Italian and Business
Italian and Classics
Italian and English Language
Italian and English or Scottish Literature
Italian and History
Italian and History of Art
Italian and Linguistics
Italian and Philosophy
Italian and Politics
Italian and Social Policy
International Business with Italian
Italian and Portuguese
Italian and Russian Studies
Italian and Scandinavian Studies
Italian and Spanish
Please see separate information sheet on Modern European Languages
One of the attractive characteristics of the MA
degree at Edinburgh is its flexibility. It may be
possible (depending on subjects chosen) to
change curriculum after one or two years. You
might begin by taking courses in Italian and
Spanish with Politics as an outside interest, and
then decide after first year to specialise in
Politics rather than languages or vice versa. The
final choice of which subjects to study in fourth
year is usually made at the end of the second
What sort of teaching and
assessment methods are used?
Teaching for languages is invariably in small
groups for face-to-face work (most of your
contact hours will be of this kind), and is
reinforced by supervised computer-assisted
learning, where assistance from native speakers
is on hand. For the content courses, a mixture of
lectures and seminars are offered. The average
intake in first year is about 80 students, so even
lectures are not huge and impersonal, and you
may well find staff engaging in dialogue with
you in lectures. In the second year, groups are
smaller, typically no bigger than 30-40 for
lectures, and much smaller for language and
other practical classes. In final year all classes
are small, typically 9-12 students. The high
staff/student ratio means you get a lot of
attention, but equally it means that you have to
be well prepared and willing to engage in
discussion. Many degree combinations will
require you to submit a dissertation, based
upon original research. Students are individually
supervised for this activity.
Assessment is by regular tests in class, by essays
which count towards continuous assessment,
and also by summer examination.
The final degree marks are based on the year
abroad mark or dissertation, and on fourth year
work as follows: language is assessed by
class-tests (30%) and by the final end of year
examinations (70%); content courses are
assessed on the basis of one long or two short
essays (30%) and final examination (70%).
“I thoroughly enjoyed studying Italian at the University of
Edinburgh. I was originally attracted to the degree because of its
flexibility, particularly in the first two years. The great aspect of a
language degree is the year abroad. I spent my third year studying
at Bologna University. Small tutorial groups in fourth year at the
University mean both staff and students benefit, as classes are fairly
informal, fun and friendly”
Julia Brown,
Recent graduate, MA (Hons) Italian
Are there any opportunities to
study abroad?
If you are studying Italian to degree level, you
will be required to spend time abroad during
your third year. Though regulations vary
between different combinations, the general
picture is that those studying just Italian, or
Italian with another non-language subject, will
spend the entire academic year in Italy, studying
at a university. Those studying two languages
will split their residence between the two
What can I do after my degree?
How do I find out more?
Because students get an all-round exposure to
language, literature, history, film, popular
culture and politics, a wide range of
occupations and vocational training
opportunities are open to them. Employment
destinations for recent graduates include:
banking, journalism, the legal profession,
international aid organisation, the Civil Service,
publishing, information technology and all areas
of teaching and research.
You will find our most up to date entry
requirements at: www.ed.ac.uk/studying/
Career paths of recent graduates include:
Italian at the University of Edinburgh has
Erasmus/Socrates links with Bologna, Milan,
Venice and Verona, but students are permitted
to study elsewhere (and frequently do). Italian
university life is very different from that in the
UK, and the challenge of studying in this new
environment is an integral part of the learning
process. Students come back with impressive
fluency and much enhanced survival skills.
Are there any bursaries or
scholarships available?
Students who successfully apply for an Erasmus
exchange place at a European university receive
a limited amount of financial support from the
European Community.
• Guyda Armstrong, MA Italian, PhD Italian,
Lecturer in Italian Studies, University of
For further information about courses in Italian,
please contact:
The Secretary
Italian Teaching Office
David Hume Tower
Room 5.10
George Square
Tel: 0131 650 4026
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.delc.ed.ac.uk/italian
• Julie Hunter, MA Italian, Marketing
Manager, Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre,
• Joanne Naysmith, MA General, PGCE,
Secondary School Teacher (Italian and
French); Administrative Secretary,
European Languages and Cultures,
University of Edinburgh.
For more
detailed information
on degree structure
and content, please see:
Typical degree curriculum: Single Honours in Italian
1st Year
2nd Year
3rd Year
4th Year
Italian 1
Italian 2
8 months residence abroad
Two other subjects
One subject continued from first year
Italian 4 Honours
(including 4 content options)
One additional content course in Italian
Plus a half course in European Cinema
or European Medieval Literature
Typical degree curriculum: Joint Honours Italian with another language
1st Year
2nd Year
3rd Year
4th Year
Italian 1
Italian 2
8 months residence abroad
4th year courses in both languages
Second Language 1
Second Language 2
An outside subject e.g. Philosophy,
Social Anthropology or Politics
Half course in each language
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