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Languages at St Andrews
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Tenpastseven · 28/08/2020 14:46

Does anyone have any experience of a languages degree (likely French and Spanish post A level) at St Andrews?

We had a look online and the information offered on the course looks far more sparse than on other Uni sites. Unless I’m just not looking properly.

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Sinkingfeeling · 28/08/2020 16:11

I did MFL at St Andrews many years ago, too long ago to be of any help, but several university websites I’ve seen recently have said their MFL course content will be updated in September 2020.

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user1471519931 · 28/08/2020 19:59

Check if they are still offering third year abroad as part of the course - if yes then with Erasmus grant? I did a 4 year MA at Aberdeen and did 6 months in France and 6 months in Germany...well in the end I stayed a full year in France then took a year out and went to Germany to teach in a school, but Aberdeen were really flexible... The point is that those years completely changed my life, really made me become fluent in the languages and I met so many people and had so many weird and wonderful experiences that it was just INCREDIBLE! Totally worth it and it has totally paid off career wise. St Andrews is a lovely town and quite safe also.

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Tenpastseven · 29/08/2020 09:16

Thanks both. My son is looking for a degree course that broader in scope and that isn’t as heavy on the literature as some others but it’s quite hard to ascertain from the website. We’ll keep looking and researching. He’s doing an early application (Cambridge) so UCAS needs to be completed soonish.

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NiamCinnOir · 31/08/2020 14:34

Where else is your DS considering applying to, Tenpastseven? My DD is also applying for modern languages for 2021 entry, and has looked at Oxbridge (where the course content does seem to be literature heavy for post-A level languages), Bristol, Lancaster, Leeds, Exeter, Sheffield, Warwick, St Andrews and Edinburgh.

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Tenpastseven · 31/08/2020 15:56

Hi @NiamCinnOir

He’s going to try for Cambridge (seems a much broader course than Oxford) and then Bristol I think as 2nd choice in ideal world.

Then Newcastle is a definite but he’s not sure after that. He’s very narrow minded 🙄 and is primarily focussed on reputation/academic rigour and says he’ll only consider somewhere small/boring (more 🙄🙄🙄) if it’s considered top drawer. Having said that he’s being rather inconsistent and poo-pooing Lancaster, Warwick, Durham and Exeter at the moment.

Has your DD actually visited anywhere? Or been on virtual tours? Would be good to get her/your thoughts...

Oh and we live in Sheffield so that’s out though he would have applied otherwise.

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NiamCinnOir · 31/08/2020 17:30

@Tenpastseven DD is most likely going to apply for Oxford (realistically a very long shot!) and also likes the look of Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield and St Andrews. She has only managed to do virtual open days for Oxford and Leeds so far, but is also signed up for Bristol virtual open day in September. She's adamant she won't apply for Durham or York, not entirely sure why! She really liked the vibe at Leeds, and particularly likes the look of the 'discovery modules' there. She also likes the fact that the year abroad is after the first year, rather than the second. Does Cambridge have an admissions test for MML by the way? The Oxford one is usually first week of November I think. Good luck to your DS with his application - not being able to visit in person doesn't making choosing any easier.

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Piggywaspushed · 31/08/2020 17:54

In terms of Languages, Lancaster is not so Litty (not a word!) and has a superb reputation for languages and Newcastle is also very highly regarded (as is the poo pooed Durham, obviously). League table wise, he may be right to reject York as it seems lower than one might expect but was always a technical, linguistic style degree , not one of the lit heavy ones.

St Andrews has a very very highly regarded languages dept : quite a few Scottish unis do : Heriot Watt and Glasgow, especially.

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Tenpastseven · 31/08/2020 19:49

Hi @NiamCinnOir. Cambridge does an 'at interview' test, so I have no idea how that will work this year. I also have no idea if it's a long shot for him or not. It's a bit intimidating and disorientating I find. He is predicted good enough grades but I don't think that's the be all and end all is it?

DS seems a bit random as to why he is keen on some and not others. He thinks Lancaster is too small @Piggywaspushed even though he knows it has a great reputation. But somehow even though St Andrews is small he's keen to put that one on his list. Go figure!?!?

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Ulelia · 31/08/2020 19:54

@Tenpastseven

Thanks both. My son is looking for a degree course that broader in scope and that isn’t as heavy on the literature as some others but it’s quite hard to ascertain from the website. We’ll keep looking and researching. He’s doing an early application (Cambridge) so UCAS needs to be completed soonish.

Don't forget that although they have to submit the oxbridge choice before 15th October, they can add other choices afterwards, up to the deadline of 15th Jan. So no rush to make all the decision choices straight away.
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mimbleandlittlemy · 31/08/2020 20:08

Newcastle is very good for languages and arranges modules so if literature isn’t your thing then you can do very little. We were very impressed with the course but ds fell in love with the Birmingham ML course instead so heading there in 2021.

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Piggywaspushed · 31/08/2020 20:10

Is that just because it is St Andrews? Cachet and all that!

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Piggywaspushed · 31/08/2020 20:12

If he is happy to go to Scotland, as he considered Glasgow at all?

Definitely not small!

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Tenpastseven · 31/08/2020 21:00

@Ulelia, ah we hadn't realised that. Thank you.

@mimbleandlittlemy you've made me realise he hasn't even mentioned Birmingham. No idea why. What was it that sold your DS?

@Piggywaspushed probably the cachet and the fact that he has a friend applying. Yes really. Although I scorn I remember that being one of the compelling reasons for my University choices too actually. Madness.

I think from this chat I'll recommend to him that he has a look at Glasgow and Birmingham too and see what he thinks.

I think ultimately if he didn't get into his first 3 choices he'd likely take a gap year and reconsider his options so I'm trying not to stress too much about it. It's hard as the virtual open days are a bit meh in our opinion. Myself and DH both went to Bristol so we can tell him about it etc but otherwise it's difficult to know what to say. Not that he listens to much we say anyway.

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mimbleandlittlemy · 31/08/2020 21:14

Tenpastseven - ds loved the Birmingham campus and all the teaching staff he met on both the open day and offer holder day and he really engaged with the students too. Until Birmingham, Newcastle was his top choice and they offered him BBB if he put them as Firm, then after the Birmingham offer holder day that was that - it just came in and hit Newcastle right out of the park. He could really see himself at Birmingham. In the end, because of his offers, he ended up putting Birmingham first (ABB offer) and Warwick second because Warwick offered him BBB which really took the pressure off. He is doing a slightly odd language combo though so he only had 5 uni choices!

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NiamCinnOir · 31/08/2020 21:49

Interesting, @mimbleandlittlemy. I'll encourage DD to look at Birmingham too, which does offer her language combination (Newcastle doesn't, sadly). Has your DS done a year abroad yet, and how did he find that? It looks as if different uni's seem to manage the year abroad very differently

@Tenpastseven - yes, I think A level grades are just one piece in the Oxbridge jigsaw. It's a bit of a stab in the dark for DD at the moment as she has no predicted grades yet, but did well in languages at GCSE. Her school are likely to have mocks around the last week of September, but haven't announced this officially yet. If her teachers are going to use mock results as the basis for predicted grades, it's tight for the Oxbridge deadline in mid-October

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NiamCinnOir · 31/08/2020 21:56

Sorry, @mimbleandlittlemy - just scrolled up the thread and realised your DS isn't starting at Birmingham until 2021!

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mimbleandlittlemy · 31/08/2020 22:12

NiamCinnOir - no, ds’s A levels were this year and he is going in 2021; he had always deferred, not a C19 thing. His year abroad should be, in theory, 9 months in his ab ignitio language, then 3 in his A level language, they haven’t said anything about Erasmus and its possible loss and the effect that would have, but we are working on the basis that we might have to bear full cost. I assume that will become clearer as we go along.

He did think about seeing if he could swap to going this year but the Birmingham course for his combo was full and we both feel that he needs to push that year abroad as far away as possible. By staying with a 2021 start, it means the year abroad won’t be until 2023 which gives things time to right themselves (please God), and the Erasmus or not situation to resolve itself.

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mimbleandlittlemy · 31/08/2020 22:13

Cross post!

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MrsWobble3 · 31/08/2020 23:17

My dd is just about to start her final year of modern languages at St Andrews. She’s loved it, even though her year abroad was curtailed by Covid. If your son has specific questions I can ask her but my impression is her course has been pretty broad in terms of modules.

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Housewifehustle · 01/09/2020 12:00

I note you are looking at Romance language courses, but DD wanted Chinese. Durham (also noted your DS not considering currently) came out on top due to being able to combine the language with other social sciences. The breadth is great for training one's mind and prep for all sorts of careers. It's called Combined Honours in Social Sciences (with Year Abroad). You can also choose not to do year abroad or use the year for work experience.

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Tenpastseven · 01/09/2020 13:55

@mimbleandlittlemy so good to hear his enthusiasm.

@MrsWobble3 oooh that's encouraging. Why do you think the website has so little information on it? Perhaps as it was suggested, they are updating. It's just so hard without being able to visit and speak to people. Moan moan. I will ask ds if he has any specific questions, but I think it's more about getting a FEEL for a place isn't it?

@Housewifehustle That's interesting. DS is doing 2 languages + Maths at A-level. Being a social scientist myself I was horrified at the lack of breadth of his A level subjects but I guess they do broad stuff within the languages.

DS did begin to teach himself Mandarin a few years back and really enjoyed it. He's keen to stick with French and Spanish and then add a few ab-initios too, that's why Bristol and Cambridge are so attractive to him I understand, although I could have got that wrong. Perhaps all courses give them the opportunity to study 3+ languages. I'm getting all my information second hand from him and I'm not sure he's the most thorough researcher.

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MrsWobble3 · 01/09/2020 16:17

@Tenpastseven. No idea how you judge the feel of the place but in case it helps my dd also studied maths and two languages for a level. She needed a third course for the first year in addition to her 2 languages so chose a third one ab initio. She enjoyed it and chose to continue so is now doing a triple honours course. I don’t think this is particularly usual and she’s had to do more chasing around to resolve timetable clashes than I might have expected but it has all been resolved and I get the impression that anything possible is accommodated but that the student needs to ask/make it happen. If you sit waiting to be told then nothing happens. Whilst this has been a bit frustrating at times it’s actually a very good life lesson and I think she has grown up from having to engage with her tutors in this way. Her other UCAS choices were Oxford (got interview but no offer), Durham, Southampton and Bristol.

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rainyinscotland · 01/09/2020 16:34

It certainly looks as though Erasmus has been binned. I only hope that the universities themselves can organise direct exchanges with overseas universities. But that still leaves the cost of staying in the other country, which can currently be financed by Erasmus.
Let's face it, this government is not exactly prioritising non-wealthy young people.
www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20200709153826701

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Tenpastseven · 01/09/2020 19:26

@MrsWobble3 That's really good to know. I will pass on to DS. Thank you.

I'm not sure why he hasn't mentioned Southampton either as I've heard it has a very good reputation. He'll say it's too far away and then put down St Andrews so there is no rhyme or reason to a 17 year olds choices I guess. I'll suggest he has another look there too.

@rainyinscotland Thanks for the link. So bloody depressing! Languages are going to become EVEN LESS popular at University now I would think.

It's really good to connect with other people whose DC are doing languages. I don't really know anyone else, so it's good to share opinions. It'd be good to keep in touch through the process and hear how the soon to be freshers get on....

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RaskolnikovsGarret · 01/09/2020 23:17

DD2 is applying for languages at Cambridge, but actually prefers the language and politics courses at other universities, so I don’t know why she is applying to Cambridge.

Actually I do know why - DD1 is about to start her second year there in languages, and loves the university and city and all her friends there.

But she doesn’t love the course. It’s nearly exclusively literature-based, and she says that her language skills are worse than they were at A level. And that they are expected to learn their languages during their year abroad.

This surprised me really. And her - she thought it would be less literature focused than Oxford, but no. She has warned DD2 that she won’t really be able to focus on the language or politics aspects that DD2 loves. I think DD2 will end up at UCL or Warwick, as those have courses that she is really interested in. Her other choices are Bristol and King’s London.

She thinks she is ‘expected’ to apply to Cambridge. Not by us she’s not. And I’m sure the interviewers will be
able to tell where her passions really lie.

We will see. I hope she goes to UCL. Hope your son makes choices he is happy with. Smile

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