About the School of Modern Languages

The School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews is one of the largest and most diverse of its kind in the UK.

The School comprises seven departments:

All staff contribute to a dynamic cross-disciplinary programme in Comparative Literature.

The School’s approach is underpinned by the belief that the acquiring of high-level language skills goes hand in hand with studying culture. With partners all over Europe and the Middle East, the School sees living, studying, and working abroad as an integral part of language study.

Dr Colette Lawson, Department of German, and tutorial groupDr Colette Lawson, Department of German, and tutorial group

Research and impact

The School of Modern Languages has an exceptionally broad variety of research interests ranging from the medieval period to the present day and engages with literatures and cultures from around the world. Cross-disciplinary themes include:

  • creativity and performance
  • history, politics and society
  • medieval and early modern studies
  • medical humanities and cultures of science
  • postcolonial and transnational studies
  • translation studies and linguistics
  • gender and sexuality studies
  • memory studies.

The School is home to three research centres and one research institute and the annual Byre World series brings together staff, students, and guests in events that share the School's research with the wider University and the public.

In the most recent UK national research assessment exercise (REF 2021) the School of Modern Languages was ranked first in Scotland with over 80% of our research and impact judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

REF 2021 results

Teaching and learning

The School of Modern Languages prides itself on being a vibrant, diverse, inclusive and engaging academic community that welcomes all students wishing to pursue the study of foreign languages and cultures and comparative literature.

Advice for prospective students

The School of Modern Languages is consistently rated among the best in the UK by major national rankings:

The Guardian University Guide 2024

The Complete University Guide 2024

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

Professor Will Fowler, Department of Spanish, and tutorial groupProfessor Will Fowler, Department of Spanish, and tutorial group

History and location

Even before modern languages was introduced as a degree subject in its own right in 1892, female students at St Andrews studied French, German, and Italian as part of what was then known as the "Ladies Literate in Arts" qualification. Today, female professors out-number their male counterparts in the School.

One hundred years after the introduction of modern languages, the individual departments were amalgamated into the current School of Modern Languages. It is now one of the largest schools of modern languages in the UK.

The School is based in the Buchanan Building on Union Street in the centre of St Andrews. Staff from the Departments of Italian, Russian, and Spanish have offices in the United College Building in St Salvator's Quad a short walk away from the Buchanan Building.

Contact the School of Modern Languages

Strategic plan

The School of Modern Languages' Strategic Plan 2020-25 sets out the School's ambitions to develop its research and teaching activities and support an environment that reflects the School's core values of trust, transparency, accountability, inclusivity, and fairness.

Strategic Plan 2020-25 (PDF)

Learn more about the School's approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion.