Guide to Studying Russian & East European Languages

By Linda Hanna, Tutor in Russian and Czech, and Neil Bermel, Professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Sheffield.

Moscow skyline © krasnevsky – Fotolia
 © krasnevsky – Fotolia
Moscow skyline

What is Russian and East European Languages?

  • A course in Russian Studies, or East European Languages, such as Czech or Polish includes the language of that country and their rich history, literature and culture.  

Specific or general skills developed

  • Language skills, and often optional modules giving you a thorough grounding in the allied areas that interest you, while developing your writing and presentation skills and the critical thinking prized by employers.

Examples of area of study

  • In a Russian degree, you can study the great authors of Russian literature; the structure and history of the Russian language; Russian visual culture (film, art, the built environment); and the history of Russia in modern times.
  • Degrees in East European languages, such as Czech and Polish, include modules in the history and cultures of those countries.

Why study Russian and East European Languages?

  • Russia is a world superpower; its rich natural resources and influential manufacturing and R&D sectors mean that knowledge of the culture and language are prized by employers.
  • Czech and Polish are, as EU languages, in demand in the public and private sectors. 
  • The UK produces few graduates in these areas proportionate to demand; the skills you obtain will be valued by potential employers here and abroad.

Coursework, assessment and exams

  • Language courses are assessed by examination and portfolio work; other modules have written assignments (essays, posters, blogs), individual and group presentations, and sometimes examinations.

What degree can I get? 

Courses include:

  • BA Single Honours Russian Studies
  • BA Dual Hons Russian and another modern foreign language (French, German, Spanish)
  • BA Dual Hons Russian and Philosophy/History/Politics/Economics/Archaeology/Music/English
  • 'With' degrees: Russian with Polish/Czech/Japanese; Chinese with Russian, Japanese with Russian, Linguistics with Russian, Russian with Czech or Polish, French with Czech or Polish, German with Czech or Polish, Spanish with Czech or Polish.

What qualifications do I need?

  • You don’t need an A level or prior experience of studying these languages to follow a course in them or attain high proficiency by graduation.  Most students come to the subject ab initio. 
  • Entry requirements are different at every institution. Check with your chosen university or college.

Use our Course Chooser to search through Russian & East European Language courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • Students do postgraduate training in applied fields like translation; or move into related fields such as security, politics, history or linguistics.
  • Postgraduate students often continue to PhDs at universities in the UK, Russia or elsewhere in Europe.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Graduates work in translating, teaching, marketing, law, banking, university administration, journalism, academia, for the British Council, government intelligence, HR, and not-for-profit organisations.