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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Modern and Medieval Languages

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Learning to speak someone else's language is one of the most important things you can do. Being able to express yourself fluently in another tongue is exhilarating. Moreover, multilingualism fosters international communication and cultural understanding. The ability to see the world from different perspectives will be an ideal foundation for almost any career that you choose to name.

More information about the course can be found on the University website


Studying MML at Murray Edwards

At Murray Edwards, we welcome seven or eight undergraduate students and three or four Erasmus exchange students in MML each year, plus one to two students in HML.  This gives a total of up to thirty undergraduate students, with three or four postgraduate students in addition, making for a large and vibrant community. We have a student-run society, the Gabe Society, which hosts an annual dinner to foster bonds between undergraduate and postgraduate students and Fellows, as well as giving final year students an opportunity to present their dissertations and Year Abroad Projects. Our Fellows also organise occasional events, such as poetry readings and wine tasting, which complement the MML course.

Modern languages students make good use of the travel funding available in College. In recent years, students have received funding for a wide range of activities including language and cultural courses in Russia, internships in Belgium, France and China as well as volunteering with a women’s charity in Argentina.

We have no preference for individual languages or combinations of languages at Murray Edwards. Beyond the need to have studied at least one of the languages you wish to study at Cambridge to A Level (or equivalent), we have no other subject requirements.


Our people

Murray Edwards has a strong tradition of female languages scholars (including Lorna Close and Dorothy Gabe, after whom the student Modern Languages society is named). We are unusual in having a Fellow in each of the main languages offered on the Cambridge course – i.e. French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. That means that people get to know one another very well: you will invariably be taught by at least one person who is a member of the College, and often by several. The MML Fellows are also either native speakers or have extensive real-life experience of the language and culture(s) that they teach and research, so you have opportunities to engage with other cultures besides those that you are officially studying. With a mixture of established and younger scholars, our Fellows’ collective expertise ranges from the Medieval to contemporary periods, from Russia to Latin America, through poetry, film, language, literature and linguistics. The current Fellows are listed below.


  • Dr Jeff Barda, Modern French Literature and Language
  • Dr Emanuela Davey, Modern Italian Literature, Culture and Language (Director of Studies  for year-abroad and final-year MML students)
  • Dr Elizabeth Drayson,  Modern and Medieval Spanish Literature and Language (Director of Studies for second-year MML students)
  • Dr John Guthrie, Modern German Literature and Language (Emeritus)
  • Dr Rachel Polonsky, Modern Russian Culture and Language
  • Dr Charlotte Lee, Modern German Literature and Language (Director of Studies for first-year MML students)
  • Dr Geoffrey Maguire, Modern Spanish and Latin-American Culture and Language
  • Dr Sarah Schechter, Routes into Languages (improving language learning and performance in school students)
  • Mrs Elsa Strietman, Dutch Literature and Language (Emerita)


Admissions Assessment and Interview Arrangements

As with all applicants for MML, if you apply to Murray Edwards and are invited to interview, you will be required to sit the MML Admissions Assessment in Cambridge at the time of your interviews.  You will also be asked to submit written work from your A Level (or equivalent) studies.

If you are invited to interview, then you will have two subject-specific interviews, one on each of the two languages you wish to study.  At least one of the interviews will be partly conducted in the language for which you are applying and which you are taking for A Level.  We normally give candidates a reading passage in one or two of their languages to prepare 10 minutes before the interview, followed by questions and discussion in the interview, and questions about reading and school coursework. The best preparation for the interview is reading, speaking and writing in the foreign language, or, in the case of an ab initio language, acquiring some familiarity with its culture (e.g. by reading works in English translation).


Offer Levels

If you receive an offer from Murray Edwards College then it will usually be the standard University offer of A*AA at A Levels, 42 points in the International Baccalaureate (IB) with 776 at Higher Level (HL) or equivalents in other qualifications.  We may specify the subject in which we wish you to achieve the top grade: usually in a language you are studying to A Level or equivalent.

Fellows in this subject