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Study Iberian Languages: Spanish and Portuguese, why & how to study

Find out what it’s like to study Spanish, Portuguese and other Iberian Languages at university.

Discover undergraduate Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London – ranked 3rd in London for Linguistics (Complete University Guide Subject League Table 2021).


  1. What’s Iberian Languages?

  2. What Iberian Languages degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto an Iberian Languages degree?

  4. What topics does an Iberian Languages degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Iberian Languages?

  7. What do Iberian Languages graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as an Iberian Languages graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Iberian Languages

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Iberian Languages?

Iberian Languages is the study of the languages and cultures of the Iberian peninsula. The most common languages spoken there are Spanish and Portuguese. Both are widely spoken across the world and are official languages of the UN.

Many UK universities offer degrees in Spanish; some offer Portuguese courses or in related subjects such as Hispanic Studies or Catalan.

What Iberian Languages degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Iberian Languages include single and combined honours:

  • Spanish and Portuguese BA
  • Hispanic Studies BA
  • Biochemistry with Spanish for Science BSc
  • Modern Languages and Cultures BA
  • European Languages and History BA (specialising in Spanish/Portuguese as a single language)

Options may include an integrated foundation year or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto an Iberian Languages degree?

Entry requirements will depend on the university, ranging from 104–168 UCAS tariff points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: AAA–BCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–DMM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–AA)
  • International Baccalaureate: 38–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: a relevant modern language at A Level (or equivalent)

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • A second modern language, history, English language or literature, or politics
  • A Levels (or equivalent) required by joint honours subjects
  • General studies A Level may be excluded from offers

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Shadowing language instructors or teachers, or work experience at a language school
  • Relevant work or travel experiences like exchange programmes, in a country that speaks the language
  • For ab initio or beginners language degrees, learning the language on apps or via evening classes
  • Immerse yourself in the language and culture through reading Spanish blogs or Hispanic literature, or watching films or videos

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science, if taken at A Level
  • Interview and entry assessments may be required by some universities

What topics does an Iberian Languages degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Academic skills for modern language students
  • Beginners' Portuguese
  • Culture, power and resistance in the Portuguese-speaking world
  • Introduction to the Portuguese-speaking world
  • Short fiction and the making of modern Brazil
  • Spanish language
  • The golden age of Portuguese travel literature
  • The history and politics of the Hispanic world
  • Themes in Spanish and Latin American studies

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module.

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Timed exams in writing, speaking and listening
  • A dissertation is usually a final year option

Why study Iberian Languages?

Departments across the UK offer modules in areas such as literature, cinema, visual culture, translation and linguistics. You’ll learn to express yourself in written and oral forms, gaining a firm understanding of how the language works, its idioms and its variety.

You may not want a career closely related to Iberian Languages after university. But the subject area will set you up with skills that can be used in different sectors or professions.

Career-specific skills:

  • Language skills in analysing, translating, interpreting and communicating
  • Understanding of the culture and history of the Hispanic world

Transferable skills:

  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal and intercultural skills
  • Organisation
  • Presentation
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Research

Professional accreditation:

  • Non-language subjects studied in combination with Spanish or Portuguese may offer accreditations from related professional bodies

What do Iberian Languages graduates earn?

Iberian Languages graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £19,000–£24,000.

With Spanish and Portuguese spoken widely around the world, this subject lends itself to an international career. You could work as a journalist, starting out with a salary of £21,000. Mid-career, earnings are around £33,500 on average, but top salaries can reach more than £80,000.

Spanish and Portuguese could also be useful in a career in international aid or development. Working with a UK charity you could liaise with local offices in Africa. Incomes range from £25,000­–£50,000 for a project or programme manager.

What jobs can you get as an Iberian Languages graduate?

There are many things you can do with a degree in Spanish or Portuguese; modern languages graduates have a wide range of rewarding careers to choose from. In particular, Spanish and Hispanic Studies opens up job opportunities with organisations working in Latin America and the USA. Roles could include:

  • Civil servant
  • Editor
  • International development worker
  • International marketing manager
  • Interpreter
  • Investment banker
  • Journalist
  • Logistics manager
  • Political analyst
  • PR specialist
  • Solicitor
  • Teacher
  • TESOL tutor
  • Tour manager
  • Translator

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Postgraduate opportunities are normally limited to those who already have degree-level competence in Spanish or Portuguese. Graduates with a Spanish degree will require a PGCE if they wish to become a teacher. Examples of postgraduate courses include:

  • Interpreting and Translating – French and Spanish MA
  • Language, Culture and History: Hispanic Studies MA
  • Portuguese Studies MPhil
  • Spanish PhD
  • Translation Studies PhD

Similar subjects to Iberian Languages

If you’re interested in other cultures or languages, you could also consider these subjects:

Have any questions?

If you’ve got any questions about studying Iberian Languages, you can email our experts at We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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