Modern Languages graduate destinations

As the global market expands, employers are particularly attracted to linguists due to language skills being in short supply and the fact that they can be used in almost any job. Graduates from these courses tend to be good communicators and have other relevant skills including the ability to gather and interpret complex information, good organisational skills and the ability to work well with others. These attributes, as well as the year abroad (which provides an insight into another culture and shows a capacity for adapting to new surroundings), are integral to many professions.

Data obtained from

  • Single and joint honours (BA) courses in: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian
  • Graduates from the UK 

Responses were received from 145 graduates from 2019/20; this is a response rate of 57.1%


Most important activityPercentage of graduates
Paid work for an employer 60%
Self-employment/freelancing 6.9%
Running my own business 2.1%
Developing a creative, artistic or professional portfolio 0.7%
Voluntary/unpaid work for an employer 1.4%
Engaged in a course of study, training or research 18.6%
Taking time out to travel 1.4%
Caring for someone 0%
Retired 0%
Unemployed and looking for work 8.3%
Doing something else 0.7%

Sector information

Nationally, about 50% of language students go straight into full time employment in the UK and about 10% find work abroad, mostly in commercial and business areas.

Employment sectorNumber of graduates

General secondary education


Other education

Public relation and communication activities 4
Advertising agencies 5
Other sectors (37 sectors) 57

Employers and occupations

Many linguists find their way into jobs that do not require a specific degree, as around 70% are open to graduates of any discipline. These jobs can be wide ranging, and include: banks and other financial institutions, the travel and hospitality business, the media including journalism, advertising, PR, retail, education, charities, international organisations and many others.

Examples of employers

  • Turner and Townsend plc
  • Alphasights
  • Pearson Education
  • UpSlide

Examples of occupations

  • Teaching Assistant
  • Accunt Executive
  • Financial Analyst
  • Subtitler
  • Journalist

Many Modern Languages graduates find employment in jobs where their languages are advantageous but not central to their work. Languages indicate an ‘international’ outlook, capacities and experience useful to most employers in these days of international competition. Few Modern Languages graduates become professional linguists (translators or interpreters). Most of those who do, speak at least two foreign languages and undertake specialist postgraduate training.

Further study

Qualification typePercentage of graduates

Higher degree, mainly by research (e.g. PhD, DPhil, MPhil, MRes)


Higher degree, mainly by taught course (e.g. MA, MSc, MBA)


Postgraduate diploma or certificate (including PGCE/PGDE)


Professional qualification


Undergraduate degree (including integrated master’s degrees) (e.g. BA, BSc, MBChB, MEng)

Other undergraduate diploma or certificate not specified above 0%
Other qualification 0%
Not aiming for a formal qualification 0%

Connect with alumni

Use Bristol Connects and LinkedIn to find out what others from your course are doing now and how they can help you.

A Bristol degree is very well respected and at an early stage of your career, where you may not yet have much professional experience, it is a great selling point.

Ciara, Financial Services Advisory Consultant, Ernst and Young
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