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Studying languages at uni

Answers to all your frequently asked questions
How many languages can you study at USYD? Which language level should you start at? Can you become a certified translator when you graduate? From accreditation to overseas opportunities, we’ve got answers for you.

How can I learn a language at uni?

Short answer: We offer a few different ways to study a language.

1) The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Languages) is our main languages degree. You can major in two languages and will gain practical translation and cross-cultural skills.

In the final year, you’ll get the opportunity to gain professional experience and work on a real-world project with an industry partner.

2) You can major in up to two languages as part of the standalone Bachelor of Arts (or major in one language in most of our other undergraduate degrees!). All of our language offerings are part of the University’s shared pool of majors and minors

3) If you don't have room in your degree, our Diploma of Language Studies offers a flexible pathway to study a language alongside your degree or after you've completed your undergraduate studies. Watch our webinar to learn more and hear from our recent graduates.

I’m not doing an Arts degree. Can I still study a language?

Short answer: Absolutely.

As we've said above, our language majors are part of the University’s shared pool of majors and minors. Which means if you're studying Commerce or Science or Architecture - pretty much any of our courses - you can include language subjects in your degree.

Which language level should I start with?

Short answer: It depends on your current proficiency level – we’ll meet you wherever you’re at.

Here’s a general guideline on our pathways*:

Introductory: You're starting as a beginner and you want to build your language skills.

Intermediate: You have some experience or heritage background in the language, and you'd like to develop your skills. (eg. 70+ for HSC Beginners or <80 for HSC Continuers).

Advanced: You have native or near-native fluency. You're ready to continue mastering the language like a pro. (eg. 80+ for HSC Continuers, or post-HSC Continuers, Extension or Background).

If you’re still unsure which one suits you best, you can reach out to our language departments for a language level assessment or one-on-one interview prior to commencement.

*See more information on proficiency levels

What languages can I learn?

Short answer: We offer 15 different languages areas. Click the headings below for more info.

Ancient Greek allows you to read original works of immense cultural and literary significance by the great writers of the ancient Mediterranean world. The study of philosophy, history, drama, lyric, epic, the novel, and oratory begins in Greece. The Greek contributions to world literature are undisputed models of perfection in every later age.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations and the religious language of 1.5 billion Muslims, as well as millions of Christians and Jewish people. Political and economic developments in the Arab world and parts of the Middle East have made understanding, speaking, reading and writing Arabic an increasingly valuable skill.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew will allow you to explore some of the foundational texts and histories of Western civilisation. Encountering the Bible in translation or learning to read these texts in Hebrew, you will consider the themes and message of the biblical books, experiment with new approaches to texts and ideas and challenge common assumptions.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Chinese Studies delivers a solid understanding of Chinese society and culture and the foundational language skills essential to function with confidence in the Chinese-speaking world. Studies in this area have exchange and summer study opportunities, including to Peking University.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Experience the rich history and cultural diversity of the official language of 29 countries (la Francophonie), spoken by more than 300 million people worldwide. 

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Study both the German language and culture, including literature, film, history and society. Through exchange programs in Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Cologne, Freiburg and Constance, you will experience exciting opportunities to enhance your language proficiency and deepen your understanding of German culture.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Hebrew (Modern) covers listening, speaking, reading, writing and cultural awareness. You will develop and expand your proficiency in these five language and cultural skills with the opportunity to complete some of your studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

A complex and exciting country, Indonesia is very close to Australia yet also very different in many ways. Drawing on our extensive links in Indonesia and with the Indonesian community in Australia, you can experience a highly integrated and contemporary subject area covering history, politics, geography, anthropology, language and culture.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Select from a wide range of language and culture units from one of the largest Italian departments in Australia and undertake a semester with one of our Italian partner universities. Develop high levels of linguistic aptitude and deep understanding of Italian authors, thinkers and literary and intellectual movements from the Middle Ages to the present.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

One of the oldest subject areas of its kind in the English-speaking world, Japanese Studies offers consideration of a rich history and culture, as well as a rewarding language experience. Undertake an in-country exchange with our large network of partner universities in Japan and prepare for employment in education, government, media, international relations and the private sector.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Korea is a dynamic nation at the epicentre of Northeast Asia. Korean Studies provides a broad foundation in Korean language as well as history, linguistics, culture and society and media and communication. Equip yourself with crucial language skills and an in-depth knowledge of this intriguing nation.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

You will learn to read works of immense cultural and literary significance by the iconic writers of ancient Rome. Latin is the direct ancestor of nearly 50 modern languages and a major contributor to the vocabulary of many others, including English. It was also the language of European literature, history, science, medicine, diplomacy and law for nearly 2000 years. Studying Latin opens up intellectual vistas vital for exploring the past or navigating the present.

Undergraduate  

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Study one of the oldest languages and cultures in Australia’s largest department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies. Select from a range of language and culture units, undertake an intensive in-country experience and prepare for employment in education, translation and interpreting, media, government and the private sector.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Through the study of Sanskrit language, the most important classical language of the Indian subcontinent, you can explore the various intellectual, literary and artistic traditions that have shaped South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan), Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Tibet and played a profound role in forming Asia as a whole.  

Undergraduate  

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and is spoken by more than 400 million people. Studying Spanish will equip you with a deep knowledge of the language and offer you the tools to examine and understand politics, society and culture in the Spanish-speaking world.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Can I study overseas?

Short answer: Yes! We strongly encourage students to go on exchange and in-country programs.

Immersing in languages and cultures first-hand will significantly grow your learning. With over 100 partner institutions worldwide, you can do short-term or semester-long study – or even longer. The Open Learning Environment (OLE) intensive in-country units also allow you to get a taste of a new language and culture.

Oh, and there are travel scholarships to support your study abroad endeavours.

Learn more about our international opportunities

Is the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Languages) accredited?

Short answer: Yes, the degree is endorsed by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) as a pathway to becoming a certified translator.

After graduating, you can take a certification test depending on your level of language proficiency. If you’re interested in becoming a certified interpreter, you can pursue further studies such as accredited interpreting courses.

What kind of jobs can I get if I study another language?

Short answer: Language grads have a distinct edge in the job market. Multilingual and intercultural skills open up many doors – both in Australia and around the world.

You'll be prepared for a wide range of careers in translation, international organisations, public policy, foreign affairs, NGOs, teaching and media outlets.

Beyond advanced communication skills, you'll learn how to examine complex problems in approaching local and global challenges. Wherever you end up working, you'll bring these unique insights to your role.

Hear from our grads on where languages have taken them


This page was last updated on 9 November 2020. Prospective students should refer to our course pages for the most up-to-date information.

Banner image: Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

* Proficiency level descriptions are indicative only and should be used as a general guide. The above pathways are available for all language majors except Ancient Greek, Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew, and Latin. Please refer to our handbook for information on subject areas when planning for your degree.

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