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Modern and Medieval Languages

Modern and Medieval Languages at Trinity offers a dynamic, diverse and comprehensive coverage of language teaching and research to advance your skills and understanding, and transform your outlook and opportunities.

Trinity offers a unique and very successful setting for language learning in French, German, Russian and Spanish (and supports study in Italian and Portuguese through partnerships with specialists in other colleges).

Trinity invites you to be part of a learning environment that combines a long tradition of excellence with innovation, independent inquiry and creative adventure. At Trinity you will discover a truly global community of students from a wide range of backgrounds and the teaching staff in Modern Languages (the most numerous of any college in Cambridge) mirrors this international dimension.

Studying Modern Languages at Trinity gives you access to unequalled resources to support study, inspire your intellectual aspirations, nurture your individual skills and develop your cultural interests within and beyond the curriculum (through specialist guidance, the outstanding library, with its books, journals, magazines, films and music, language bursaries, college travel funds, and exchanges with premier institutions abroad).

As one of the largest colleges and as a historically influential institution in Cambridge, with significant international prestige and a network of global partnerships, Trinity plays a crucial role at the heart of university policy, teaching and scholarship as well as through the unique way it is able to promote cultural initiatives and support institutions that benefit the wider community in the city.

Course Details

Course length: 4 Years
Typical offer: A*AA
Preferred A-Level subjects: Must include at least one foreign language
Assessment Format: Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes), Discursive response in English (20 minutes)


The MML course and Trinity: transforming potential

The full Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) Tripos lasts four years and there are exams at the end of the first, second and fourth year. The third year is spent abroad – studying, teaching, working or volunteering.

Over the years, our students have charted a wide range of itineraries and experiences during their year abroad, covering the well-known and the less-travelled places of the world, from celebrated capitals to smaller centres, from Europe and Russia to Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. A majority of our finalists will achieve near native fluency in written and spoken language and will have acquired the knowledge, adaptability and plural perspective that make the Trinity modern linguist an informed, effective and highly-qualified citizen of our contemporary world.

Everyone studies two languages for the first two years, one of which can be started from scratch. Whether you choose to continue two A-level languages, or to begin a new one (such as German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish), the course is designed to bring you to the same standard in both languages by the end of the second year. Trinity actively supports this process of intensive language acquisition by giving students additional opportunities to enhance and consolidate skills through targeted residencies abroad outside of term.

The first year of MML concentrates primarily on developing your language skills, while the focus in the second and fourth years is increasingly on intellectual and cultural content. A large number of options are on offer covering literature, thought, history of the different language areas from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as film and visual culture studies, philology, and theoretical linguistics. Those with a strong interest in theoretical linguistics may wish to consider switching to the Linguistics Tripos at some stage. From your second year, it is possible to opt for papers in Catalan, Portuguese and Ukrainian.

MML Teaching Staff at Trinity: supporting individual development and excellence

The MML teaching staff at Trinity brings together in one college an unusually wide-ranging expertise (in French, German, Russian and Spanish Studies), with a spectrum of interests and specialisms that inform your teaching from the first through to the final year. This range and depth of coverage allows them to work closely with students over a breadth of Tripos language and content papers and to maintain fruitful contact during their time here in Cambridge. There are also lectors who provide both formal and informal oral tuition and Junior Research Fellows who complement our teaching provision. A distinctive aspect of the Trinity MML teaching group is the worldwide scope of its interests, encouraging a comparative approach to global languages. All members of the MML teaching staff are research active, publishing widely and promoting events that enhance the MML student’s cultural understanding with film sessions, invited speakers, performances, exhibitions and symposia. There are ample opportunities to participate in such events and to collaborate in their organization or to initiate new projects. The college offers excellent facilities including the well-equipped Winstanley Lecture Theatre that is regularly used for international film festivals and other gatherings.

Trinity’s senior teaching staff in MML at present are:

  • Anita Bunyan (who works on 19th century German literature and history);
  • Mark Chinca (medieval German literature);
  • Emma Claussen (French and Francophone literature and intellectual history)
  • Carlos Fonseca (Latin American literature and culture);
  • Jean Khalfa (French and Francophone literature and philosophy); and
  • Emma Widdis (19th and 20th century Russian literature and cinema).

We aim to develop intellectual potential, and promote independent critical thinking in a stimulating and well-resourced learning environment.

Trinity MML Graduates: a pathway to independence, fulfilment and success

Trinity College is proud of the consistent success of its graduates in securing meaningful employment and rewarding careers. Students in MML have gone into journalism, diplomacy, the civil service, broadcasting, film production, banking and financial services, publishing, education and graduate research, translation, law, academia, international development and politics.

Applying to join MML at Trinity

We welcome applications from a broad range of schools and backgrounds. We are looking for intellectual aspiration, individuality and proven dedication so that we can help to develop outstanding potential as well as academic achievement.

Applicants for places at Trinity are normally interviewed by specialists in the languages that the candidate hopes to study at Cambridge. Interviews are reasonably informal and are designed to identify strengths rather than weaknesses. The purpose is to assess your motivation, reasoning ability and developing intellectual and cultural interests.

The content of the interview will depend on the level to which you have previously studied each language but the interviewers will always aim to test a broad range of skills, including linguistic competence, powers of literary analysis, and general intellectual and cultural awareness.

The typical conditional offer is A*AA in subjects that include at least one foreign language. The number of offers we make depends on the strength of the applications but we aim for an entry in the range of 12 to 14.

Further information

For further information a course brochure can be obtained by writing to the Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages and Linguistics, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA. You are encouraged to visit the Faculty website:

Admissions Assessment

All applicants for MML are required to take a written assessment at interview, if interviewed.


  • Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes)
  • Discursive response in English (20 minutes)
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Further details about the format of the assessment and preparatory materials can be found on the written assessments page.

You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.

Please note that your performance in the assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

Teaching Staff

  • Dr Anita Bunyan
  • Professor Mark Chinca
  • Dr Emma Claussen
  • Dr Carlos Fonseca
  • Dr Jean Khalfa
  • Professor Emma Widdis

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