Why study Spanish?
Studying Spanish offers access to a very rich culture, both ancient and modern. The main linguistic roots of Spanish come from Latin Vulgaris but it also has imported vocabulary from many other languages and cultures. Spanish is spoken in two continents and in more than 20 countries, is the world's third most frequently spoken language (after English and Chinese), and is one of the United Nations' six official languages.
In the Americas Spanish is the language that has the largest number of speakers. The United States is the fifth largest country in terms of the number of Spanish speakers, reflecting the fact that Spanish has become the second most spoken language there due to the increasing Hispanic population.
Recently, Spanish has also become a language of strategic importance to New Zealand's trading future.
Spanish language courses cater for total beginners as well as those with some knowledge of the language. Follow the link below for the full list of Spanish courses.
SPAN 101 is for total beginners, while SPAN 201 is the normal entry point for those with NCEA Level 3 Spanish. Placement tests are also available for those who have acquired proficiency by other means.
We advise students to combine language and culture courses in their planned degree because the dynamic relationship between language and culture means a full understanding of one is not possible without a sound understanding of the other.
Students are also advised to check both the general and specific degree regulations:
- Regulations for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
- Schedule A to the Regulations for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
The Subject Coordinator can advise you on combinations with other subjects and career options.
Why study Honours?
If you already hold an undergraduate degree in Spanish or related subjects and want to learn more about different aspects of Spanish language, Hispanic literature (from Spain and Latin America), Translation Studies and Hispanic Cultural Studies, you can do an Honours degree in Spanish. An Honours degree is also required for further postgraduate study in Spain, Latin America or the USA.
Spanish Honours courses
The Honours programme consists of four papers, which must include the Research Essay SPAN 411, normally to be completed within one year.
Part-time study is permitted for a period of up to four years. One or two papers from other programmes may be taken as part of a BA (Hons), subject to approval by the Spanish Subject Coordinator. The courses chosen should constitute a coherent course of study.
Please note that not all courses are offered every year; prospective students should consult the Spanish Subject Coordinator for advice and information on available courses before the end of the year preceding their intended Honours study. Follow the link below to explore your course options in Spanish Honours.
The entry requirements are a BA in Spanish, SPAN302 with at least a B grade, and SPAN303 or SPAN304, or other appropriate courses as approved by the Subject Coordinator.
With an Honours degree you can pursue further studies such as a Masters degree or a PhD. We strongly recommend all Honours students who intend to continue with a Masters to take the following courses:
Once you have completed your Honours courses or (equivalent accreditation), you may earn a Masters degree by spending one year (full-time; maximum 2 years) or two years (part-time; maximum 4 years) writing and completing a thesis: SPAN690.
Your Masters degree could have a special focus on any of the pathways indicated below. If you have a different research topic in mind, not mentioned here, feel free to discuss it with the Spanish Subject Coordinator.
Note: We strongly recommend all Honours students who intend to continue with a Masters to take the following courses:
Pathway 1: Translation Studies
If you would like to focus on the topic of translation, you are advised to take the following Honours courses:
(Focus on Spanish or any other of the Spanish 400-level courses available.)
Your Masters thesis would consist of the translation of an authentic text of appropriate length and genre, accompanied by theoretical discussion regarding your methodological framework and an analysis of the challenges encountered and strategies used to overcome them. Therefore, you would have to choose an appropriate translation project in consultation with your supervisor.
Common career choices available through this pathway are becoming a translator, either freelance or for a translation agency. You could work on casual bases as a consultant for Hispanic embassies and consulates, or for the police, immigration, and wider local and central governmental organizations.
Note: you may further enhance your expertise by also taking an interpretation course. For more info see www.interpret.org.nz.
Pathway 2: Literature
If you choose to take this pathway, you may write a Masters thesis with the main focus on one or more Spanish-speaking authors. Your topic, which you must choose in consultation with your supervisor, may revolve around an author in relation to different aspects of contemporary narratives, such as the Historical Novel, Latin American Narratives, the Bildungs Roman, to mention just a few possible topics.
To learn more about the courses we recommend and the common career choices available through this pathway please see pathway 3.
Pathway 3: Hispanic Cultural Studies
If you are interested in Hispanic Cultural Studies, you may choose to write your masters thesis on a topic which deals with exile, gender issues, contextual literary analysis, history of ideas, or you could analyze the specific impact of the cultural, political and/or religious policies of a Spanish-speaking country. In this pathway, you may also focus on socio-cultural analysis based on linguistic issues. You may choose other topics in consultation with your supervisor.
If you are taking pathway 2 or 3 you are encouraged to take a combination of Literature and Language courses.
A common career choice through pathways 2 and 3 is the teaching and research careers at tertiary institutions. This is also a suitable background to work in the journalism profession or becoming a creative writer.
Pathway 4: Teaching and Learning Spanish as a Foreign Language
This may be taken in conjunction with the College of Education* or Linguistics. You can write a thesis on L2 teaching issues such as Didactic Strategies and Methodologies for Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. Common topics of study are the process of foreign language acquisition, the design of effective didactic materials and the use of modern technologies, both inside and outside the classroom, the study of specific challenges that different New Zealand communities face in the process of learning Spanish as a foreign language. Your topic must be chosen in consultation with your supervisor.
Common career choices available through this pathway are in the Teachers Training Profession, or as a school teacher.
All of these pathways will also equip you with a number of transferable skills, such as language abilities, discourse and critical thought, and analytic and verbal aptitudes which are sought after by many employers. This may also help you if you would like to live and work overseas.
* You are advised to choose these in consultation with the Subject Coordinator of Spanish.
After completing your Masters of Arts you may pursue further studies such as a PhD in Spanish: SPAN790-09A (C)
Entry requirements and regulations
- Find out more about the entry requirements for doctoral study at UC.
- Official University regulations and policies for the PhD.
Identifying a research topic
These are some of the topics on which we are currently offering supervision:
- Dr William Cheng - Latin American historical novel, the Bildungsroman
You also may choose any of the pathways indicated in the MA programme, or if you already have a topic in mind which you would like to work on and it is not mentioned here, please feel free to discuss it with us.
The most common work path for those who have completed a PhD of this type is pursuing an academic career (research and/or teaching) here or overseas.
A number of scholarships are available to students of Spanish. The scholarships database has a full list of available scholarships, prizes and awards.
Undergraduate scholarships and funding
Postgraduate scholarships and funding
The Spanish programme at UC focuses primarily on language acquisition based on the communicative approach. Cultural studies are also integrated into the curriculum, so that students can deepen their understanding of Hispanic cultures.
See the Course Information website for more details about studying Spanish.
Explore the full list of courses offered in