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Modern & Medieval Languages


MML infographic - c. 158 admitted per year at Cambridge, at least 1 language required at A Level or equivalent, c. 5 admitted per year at Pembroke


Modern and Medieval Languages at Pembroke

There are currently two teaching Fellows in Modern Languages at Pembroke: Professor Sylvia Huot (French) and Professor Chris Young (German). Professor Huot is primarily a specialist in medieval literature, but has teaching interests going well beyond this particular field of study. Professor Young teaches and researches in medieval literature, the history of the German language and aspects of modern German culture (specifically sport). Direction of Studies and teaching are, however, provided for all languages, and you are at no disadvantage if you wish to study languages other than those mentioned above.

Undergraduates taking the MML Tripos have regular supervisions in addition to Faculty lectures and weekly classes in translation and in the use of the languages. Weekly supervisions are also given by a native speaker and are devoted to language work and general conversation in preparation for the Oral; in the final year, students will have supervisions with a native speaker in preparation for the foreign language essay paper. Pembroke annually appoints a lectrice/lecteur for French, a Lektor(in) for German, and arranges similar teaching with native speakers for those studying other languages. The College encourages its linguists to take full advantage of the broad range of options available in the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos and to find a combination of papers suited to individual interests. The Directors of Studies are primarily interested in helping students to find their niche and develop their own special interests to the full, whatever these might be.


Pembroke usually admits five or six undergraduates a year to read Modern and Medieval Languages, though numbers vary to reflect the quality of the field. The minimum requirement is one language at A Level, in one of the languages that you wish to study. Ab initio courses are open to you even if you have not got GCSE in the particular language: you will be at no disadvantage. No other A-level subjects are stipulated or deemed inappropriate. Applicants are very welcome in any language offered by the University.

Several of the undergraduates reading Modern Languages at Pembroke take a year off after completing school before coming up to university, and the College is very happy to receive applications for deferred entry, although understanding that it is not always possible or desirable.

Admissions interviews are with the Directors of Studies in Modern Languages, Professor Huot, and an Admissions Tutor or another non-subject specialist. If you are applying to read a language other than French and are studying for an A Level in that language, then we will arrange for a colleague from that particular department to see you in addition. For interviews in your A Level (or equivalent) languages, you will be expected to look at a passage in each foreign language you are studying, given to you about fifteen minutes before the interview with the relevant Fellow. This will then be discussed, and you will also have a short (unrelated) discussion in the language. For interviews with a Director of Studies who is not an expert in a language you are studying at A Level (or equivalent), you will be given a passage in English.

You will be asked to do a written assessment on the day of your interview and this will take place at Pembroke. The written assessment will be of one hour’s length and based on a short text in English. It will be marked by the subject experts according to an agreed set of criteria. Two specimen assessments, together with the agreed criteria, can be found on the Faculty website.

You will be asked to submit two pieces of written work with your application. These must be pieces of work that you have already prepared in connection with your A Level (or equivalent) studies. At least one must be in a foreign language that you propose to offer at Cambridge, while the other can be in any Arts subject. Work submitted must be accompanied by a cover sheet, provided on request by the College, and signed by your teacher certifying that it is your own work. Try, however, to read as much in the foreign language as possible before the interview. Foreign literature is one excellent way for sixth-formers to broaden their vocabulary, gain experience of a broad range of linguistic registers, and learn something about the cultural and intellectual interests of the communities and nations whose language they are studying.

Professor Huot is happy to answer any questions relating to this course or preparation for interview via email. See also the page about Modern and Medieval Languages on the University website. 

Go to the Modern & Medieval Languages faculty website