Preliminary Examination in Modern Languages

A

The languages, subjects, and papers in the examination shall be as prescribed by regulation from time to time by the Board of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.

B

Not more than two languages may be offered.

  • 1. The languages which may be offered shall be Latin and Greek and those languages which may be offered in the Final Honour School of Modern Languages.1  Candidates who offer both Latin and Ancient Greek shall be deemed to be offering one ancient language. Candidates for whom it is appropriate shall pass at the end of their first year of study the examination in Greek or Latin prescribed for first-year candidates in Course II of Honour Moderations in Classics and English, before proceeding to offer papers in the Preliminary Examination for Modern Languages in accordance with the following regulations in their second year of study.

  • 2. The subjects of the examination shall be:

  • (a) Language papers (including certification of attendance and participation in oral classes2);

  • (b) Literature papers;

  • (c) Classics and Modern Languages
  • (d) Linguistics;

  • (e) Further Topics (for candidates taking French sole or German sole only);

  • (f) Russian Course B (ab initio);

  • (g) German Course B (ab initio).

  • 3. A candidate shall be deemed to have passed the examination if he or she shall have satisfied the Examiners

    either  (i) in all papers in both subjects (a) Language and (b) Literature in each of two languages, at least one of the languages being modern;

    or  (ii) in all papers in both subjects (a) Language and (b) Literature in one modern language (other than Czech (with Slovak) or Celtic) and in all papers in subject (d) Linguistics;

    or  (iii) in all papers in both subjects (a) Language and (b) Literature in either French or German and in all three papers in subject (e) Further Topics in the same language;

    or  (iv) in all papers in both subjects (a) Language and (b) Literature in one modern language and in all papers in subject (f) Russian Course B (ab initio) or German Course B (ab initio).

    Candidates must offer all the papers at one examination, provided that a candidate who has previously failed to satisfy the examiners in any paper or papers shall not be required to resit any paper or papers in which he or she has already satisfied the examiners. The pair of papers IIA and IIB (and BIIA and BIIB) counts as a single paper.

  • 4. To a candidate who has done work of special merit in the papers concerned, the Moderators may award a mark of distinction in a language, and in Further Topics, and in Linguistics. A candidate may be awarded either one or two distinctions. A candidate receiving distinction in both parts of their examination may receive an overall distinction.

  • 5. Candidates must offer:

    Either: I, IIA, IIB, III, IV in two modern languages:

    Or: I, IIA, IIB, III, IV in a modern language together with V, VI, and VII in Latin and/or Ancient Greek;

    Or: I, IIA, IIB, III, IV in a modern language together with VIII, IX, and X in Linguistics.

    Or: I, IIA, IIB, III, IV in either French or German together with XI, XII, and XIII in the same language. (For candidates offering French sole or German sole.)

    Or: I, IIA, IIB, III, IV in a modern language together with BI, BIIA, BIIB, BIII; and BIV Oral Test (for candidates admitted to Russian Course B) or BI, BIIA, BIIB, BIII Oral Test and BIV (for candidates admitted to German Course B).

  • 6. a. Language papers

  • I. Language I. 3 hours.

[See Table 18]

  • II. Language II. The paper will be in two parts of 1½ hours each.

[See Table 19

  • b. Literature papers

  • III. Literature I. 3 hours.

[See Table 20]

  • IV. Literature II: Prescribed texts. 3 hours.

[See Table 21]

  • c. Classics and Modern Languages paper

  • Latin and Ancient Greek

    Any candidate whose native language is not English may bring a bilingual (native language to English) dictionary for use in any examination paper where candidates are required to translate Ancient Greek and/or Latin texts into English.

    1. Course I.

  • Papers V, VI and VII: Candidates will be required to take papers identical with papers 3, 4, and 5 for the Preliminary Examination in Classics and English, Course I.

  • For prescribed editions of texts, see the Classics and Modern Languages Handbook.

  • 2. Course II.

    Candidates for Course II shall be required:

  • (a) to pass at the end of their first year of study the examination in Greek and Latin prescribed for first-year candidates in Course II of the Preliminary Examination in Classics and English.

  • (b) during their second year of study, to offer papers as for Course I.

  • d. Linguistics

  • VIII. General Linguistics. 3 hours.

    Candidates will be expected to be familiar with the development of contemporary linguistic theory, both synchronic and historical, and be able to discuss problems and issues in areas including semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition and language change.

  • IX. Phonetics and Phonology. 3 hours.

    Candidates will be expected to be familiar with principles and practice in the analysis, classification, and transcription of speech, as applied to languages in general, but with an emphasis on European languages.

  • X. Grammatical Analysis. 3 hours.

    Candidates will be expected to be familiar with modern grammatical theory, in particular as applied to the analysis of European languages.

  • e. Further Topics

  • XI. Further Topics I: 

  • French: Introduction to French Film Studies:

  • Candidates must write three essays, each on a different film. There will be a choice of two questions on each film.

    Henri-Georges Clouzot: Le Corbeau (1942)

    Jean-Luc Godard: Vivre sa vie (1962)

    Agnès Varda: Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000)

    Bertrand Blier: Les valseuses (1974)

    German: Introduction to German Film Studies:

    The paper will consist of one commentary and two essays from a choice of questions. The commentary will be on a set of stills from one of the films.

    Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, 1925/26. Eureka edition EKA40321)

    Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (dir. Lotte Reiniger, 1923/26)

    Der blaue Engel (dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1929/1930)

    Kameradschaft (dir. G. W. Pabst, 1931)

  • XII. Further Topics II: 

  • French: Introduction to French Literary Theory:

  • Candidates must write three essays, each on a different author. There will be a choice of two questions on each author.

    Valéry, ‘Questions de poésie’ and ‘Poésie et pensée abstraite’, in Théorie poétique et esthétique, in Oeuvres, I, ed. J. Hytier, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade (Gallimard, 1957), pp. 1280-94; pp. 1314-39

    Sartre, Qu’est-ce que la littérature? (Folio) [Sections I and II only]

    Barthes, Critique et vérité (Seuil)

    Todorov, ‘La notion de littérature’, ‘L’origine des genres’, ‘Les deux principes du récit’, ‘Introduction au vraisemblable’ in La notion de littérature et autres essais (Seuil)

    German: Introduction to German Medieval Studies:

    The paper will consist of one commentary, one question consisting of several questions on a passage, and one essay from a choice of questions.

    Close study of a single text: Hartmann von Aue, Gregorius (Reclam edition Middle High German text with a facing page translation in modern German).

  • XIII. Further Topics III: 

  • French: Key Texts in French Thought:

  • Candidates must answer three questions (one commentary and two essays), each on a different text. There will be a choice of one commentary passage and one essay question on each text.

    Descartes, Discours de la méthode (Garnier-Flammarion)

    Rousseau, Discours sur l’inégalité (Folio)

    Bergson, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (PUF) [Chapters I and II only]

    Beauvoir, Le Deuxième Sexe (Folio). I: Introduction, ‘Mythes’; II: ‘La femme mariée’, ‘La mère'

    German: Key Texts in German Thought:

    Kant, Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht

    Marx und Engels, Das kommunistische Manifest

    Nietzsche, ‘Zur Naturgeschichte der Moral’ in Jenseits vom Gut und Böse

    Freud, Warum Krieg?

  • Candidates will be permitted to use translations alongside, but not instead of, the original texts.
  • f. Russian Course B: for students who enter Oxford without A level or equivalent level knowledge of Russian

  • BI Translation from English into Russian and Russian grammar exercises.

    BIIA Translation from Russian into English.

    BIIB Comprehension of a passage of written Russian.

    BIII Dictation and Aural Comprehension.

    BIV Oral Test.

  • g. German Course B: for students who enter Oxford to study ab-initio German

  • BI Reading Comprehension and Essay in German.

  • BIIA Translation into German.

  • BIIB Translation from German.

  • BIII Oral Test.

  • BIV German Prose 1890-1933.

Table 18

French:

The paper will consist of: (a) French grammar (20 short sentences for translation into French); (b) A prose passage for translation into French; (c) A summary in French of a passage of analytical or critical writing in French.

German:

‘Deutsche Gesellschaft und Kultur seit 1890.’ Reading comprehension (in German) on a passage which relates to the theme of the paper. One essay in German on a topic relating to the theme of the paper.

Italian:

The paper will consist of: (a) audio or video listening comprehension exercises; (b) reading comprehension exercises; (c) one guided essay in Italian.

Spanish:

The paper will consist of: (a) translation into Spanish: a set of grammatical sentences. 1½ hours will be allowed for each part.

Portuguese:

The paper will consist of: (a) audio or visual listening comprehension exercises; (b) translation into Portuguese; (c) a guided composition; (d) linguistic tests.

Russian:

Translation into Russian and/or exercises in Russian.

Modern Greek:

Translation into Modern Greek and exercises in Modern Greek.

Czech (with Slovak):

(a) a modern English prose passage; and (b) English sentences testing basic grammar, both to be translated into either Czech or Slovak.

Celtic:

(a) a modern English prose passage; and (b) English sentences testing basic grammar, both to be translated into Welsh.

Table 19

French:

Unprepared translation: Translation into English of a prose passage in French.

 

Prepared translation: Translation into English of a passage from one of the texts prescribed for French paper IV, excluding La Chastelaine de Vergi.

German:

IIA. Translation into German of a prose passage.

 

IIB. Translation from German of a prose passage in a modern literary register.

Italian:

IIA. Translation into Italian of a prose passage or sentences.

 

IIB. Translation from Italian. A passage of modern prose will be set.

Spanish:

IIA. Translation from Spanish of a prose passage in a modern literary register.

 

IIB. Translation from Spanish of a prose passage in an informal register such as journalism.

Portuguese:

IIA. Translation from Portuguese of a prose passage in a modern literary register.

 

IIB. Translation from Portuguese of a prose passage in an informal register such as journalism, and an exercise or exercises in reading comprehension.

Russian:

IIA. Translation from Russian. A passage of modern prose will be set.

 

IIB. Comprehension exercise. A modern passage in the language will be set to test comprehension. All answers in this paper will be in English.

Modern Greek:

IIA. Translation from Modern Greek. A passage of modern prose will be set.

 

IIB. Comprehension exercises. A modern passage or passages in the language will be set to test comprehension. All answers in this paper will be in English.

Czech (with Slovak):

IIA and IIB. One passage of modern prose in each paper for translation from Czech into English.

 

Celtic:

IIA. A passage of Middle Welsh prose to be translated into English.

 

IIB. A passage of Old Irish prose or a passage of Modern Welsh prose to be translated into English.

Table 20

French:

Short texts. Candidates will be required to study six brief but self-contained works arranged in three contrasting pairs:

 

Montaigne, ‘Des Cannibales’ from Essais I

 

Diderot, Supplément au Voyage à Bougainville.

 

B Baudelaire, ‘Spleen et Idéal’ from Les Fleurs du Mal, with 30 poems to be identified for detailed study

 

Aimé Césaire, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal

 

C Racine, Phèdre

 

Beckett, En attendant Godot

 

The paper will be examined by commentary only, with all texts set, and candidates required to offer three passages, one from each of sections A, B, and C.

German:

Commentary. Two commentaries on a choice of poems taken from an anthology, which will include some medieval poems. One commentary on an extract from one of the set texts listed under paper IV. Each year two such texts will be designated as the ones from which an extract for commentary may be taken. Texts to be studied for commentary in any given year will be published in the University Gazette during noughth week of Michaelmas Term each year.

Italian:

Aspects of Italian lyric poetry. Compulsory passages for explanation and detailed comment will be set.

 

The sonnet from the Middle Ages to the present. (Copies of the list of sonnets for the examinations in the academic year concerned will be available in the Modern Languages Faculty Office, 41 Wellington Square, from the beginning of the Michaelmas Full Term of the year.)

 

Ungaretti, Selections from L'Allegria (in Giuseppe Ungaretti, Vita d'un uomo, 106 poesie 1914-1960, Mondadori Oscar).

 

Montale, Selection of poems from Ossi di seppia (in Eugenio Montale, Ossi di seppia, Mondadori Oscar 2016)

Spanish:

Prescribed texts to be studied in relation to various possible approaches to literature. One compulsory passage will be set for translation into English and one for commentary. Candidates will also be required to undertake two essays, to be written on texts other than the one from which the passage chosen for commentary was taken.

 

M. Vargas Llosa, La fiesta del Chivo.

 

Antonio Machado, Campos de Castilla (excluding ‘La tierra de Alvargonzález’, but including ‘Elogios’: in Poesías completas, Selecciones Austral).

 

Calderón de la Barca, El médico du su honra (ed. D. W. Cruickshank, Clásicos Castalia).

 

Cervantes, ‘Rinconete y Cortadillo’, from vol. 1 of Novelas ejemplares, ed. H. Sieber, 2 vols. (Madrid: Cátedra, 1989).

Portuguese:

Prescribed texts to be studied in relation to various possible approaches to literature. Compulsory passages for explanation and detailed comment will be set. There will be a compulsory essay or commentary question on each of the set texts.

 

Lídia Jorge, O vale da paixão

 

Pepetela, O Desejo de Kianda

 

Manuel Bandeira, Libertinagem and Estrela da manhã

Russian:

Poetry. The examination will consist of three commentaries, each on a different author, on the set works by five authors detailed below. One commentary passage will be compulsory.

 

Derzhavin, Felitsa

 

Pushkin, Mednyi vsadnik

 

Lermontov, Mtsyri

 

Blok, Na pole Kulikovom and Dvenadtsat'

 

Akhmatova, Rekviem

 

Examiners may give some guidance to candidates about how to approach the passages set for commentary; they may also require candidates to translate some portion of the passages set for commentary into English.

Modern Greek:

Modern Greek poetry and prose. Compulsory passages for explanation and detailed comment will be set. The syllabus will consist of a selection of poems and short stories by a variety of authors. (A list of the selection for the examinations in the academic year concerned will be available in the Modern Languages Faculty Office, 41 Wellington Square, from the beginning of the Michaelmas Full Term of that year).

 

The examination paper will be divided into two sections. Section A will consist of two compulsory commentary passages from prescribed texts (one poetry passage and one prose passage). Section B will consist of a choice of essay questions, from which each candidate must choose one.

Czech (with Slovak):

Prescribed texts to be studied as literature. Three compulsory passages for commentary will be set.

 

Short stories:

 

Milan Kundera, Falešný autostop

 

Bohumil Hrabal, Pábitelé

 

Ota Pavel, Zlatí úhoři

 

Jan Neruda, Doktor Kazisvět

Celtic:

Prescribed texts to be studied as literature. Commentary. One commentary on a poem taken from an anthology. Poems will be set from:

 

Oxford Book of Welsh Verse, ed. T. Parry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), nos. 31, 40, 78, 298, 318.

 

Early Irish Lyrics, ed. G. Murphy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956; repr. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998), nos. 5, 7, 11, 35, 36.

 

and Two commentaries on extracts from the texts listed under paper IV.

Table 21

French:

French narrative fiction:

 

La Chastelaine de Vergi

 

Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses

 

Sand, Indiana

 

Proust, Combray

 

The paper will be examined entirely by essay, with candidates required to answer on three texts. There will be a choice of questions on each text.

German:

Three essays from a choice of questions on the set texts covering genre, themes, and period:

 

Prose:

 

Fontane, Effi Briest

 

Kafka, Die Verwandlung

 

Thomas Mann, Mario und der Zauberer

 

Remarque, Im Westen nichts Neues

 

Drama:

 

Wedekind, Frühlings Erwachen

 

Schnitzler, Leibelei

 

Kaiser, Von morgens bis mitternachts

 

Brecht, Die Maßnahme, edition suhrkamp 2058 (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1998), in the version of 1931

German (Course B):

Three essays on German prose from 1890 to 1933:

 

Theodore Fontane, Effi Briest

 

Franz Kafka, Die Verwandlung

 

Erich Maria Remarque, Im Westen nichts Neues

 

Thomas Mann, Mario und der Zauberer

Italian:

Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of four of the five works listed below. Candidates will be expected to have such knowledge of the literary, intellectual, and historical background as is necessary for the understanding of these texts. Compulsory passages for commentary will not be set in the examination.

 

Modern Italian Narrative and Cinema

 

Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo

 

Italo Calvino, Il cavaliere inesistente

 

Anna Maria Ortese, Il mare non bagna Napoli

 

Cesare Pavese, La Luna e i falò

 

Marco Tullio Giordana, I cento passi

Spanish:

Prescribed texts to be studied in relation to general trends in literature or thought or to historical background. Compulsory passages for explanation and detailed comment will not be set.

 

The Spanish Ballad Tradition:

 

Traditional romances:

 

El romancero viejo (ed. M. Díaz Roig, Cátedra, Madrid, 1979), poems Nos. 1-3, 5-6, 8-9, 11, 13-14, 23-4, 29-32, 38-59, 63-6, 68, 71-3, 76, 78, 83, 85-6, 88, 91, 94, 96-9, 101, 104, 111, 115-9, 121, 125-8.

 

Golden Age:

 

Lope de Vega, Lírica (ed. J. M. Blecua, Clásicos Castalia), poems Nos. 1-2, 6-10, 125, and 126.

 

Góngora, Romances (ed. Antonio Carreño, Cátedra, Madrid, 1982), poems Nos. 3, 10-11, 15-16, 18, 23, 27, 48, 52, 58, and 79.

 

Francisco de Quevedo, Poemas escogidos (ed. J. M. Blecua, Clásicos Castallia, Madrid), poems Nos. 155, 160, 165, 167, and 172.

 

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries:

 

Duque de Rivas, El conde de Villamediana; El Alcázar de Sevilla; El fratricidio; Bailén (from Romances históricos, ed. S. García, Cátedra).

 

Antonio Machado, ‘La tierra de Alvargonzález’ (from Poesías completas, Selecciones Austral).

 

F. García Lorca, Romancero gitano (ed. Mario Hernández, Alianza).

Portuguese:

The examination will consist of:

 

(a) a commentary on passages chosen from two of the set texts given below; (b) an essay, on one of the remaining three texts; (c) an essay on the historical development of the auto. Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of at least one text from each of groups A, B, and C below.

 

A Gil Vicente Auto da Barca do Inferno

 

Auto da India

 

B Ana Luísa Amaral, Próspero Morreu

 

C Suassuna Auto da Compadecida

 

Cabral de Melo Neto Vida e Morte Severina

Russian:

The paper will consist of: (a) one compulsory commentary; and (b) two essays each from a choice of two covering the other two set authors. Examiners may give some guidance to candidates about how to approach the passage set for commentary; they may also require candidates to translate some portion of the passage set for commentary into English.

 

Pushkin, Pikovaya dama

 

Chekhov, Sluchai iz praktiki; Anna na shee; Dom s mezoninom

 

Dovlatov, Chemodan

Modern Greek:

Twentieth-century Greek prose in context. Candidates will be expected to have and to be able to demonstrate such knowledge of the literary, intellectual, cultural and historical background as is necessary for the understanding of these texts. Compulsory passages for commentary will not be set in the examination. Angelopoulos’s Ο Θίασος will be taught with an emphasis on the script, but aspects of the film will also be discussed.

Candidates will be encouraged to make connections and comparisons between texts where appropriate.

Prescribed texts

Στρατής Δούκας, Ιστορία ενός αιχμαλώτου

Δημήτρης Χατζής, Το τέλος της μικρής μας πόλης

Κώστας Ταχτσής, Το τρίτο στεφάνι

Θόδωρος Αγγελόπουλος, Ο Θίασος

Παύλος Μάτεσις, Η μητέρα του σκύλου

Αλέξανδρος Κοτζιάς, Ιαγουάρος’

Czech (with Slovak):

Prescribed texts to be studied as literature. Essay-type questions will be set on the plays, and a compulsory passage for commentary from the poem. Candidates will be required to answer on all three texts.

 

EITHER Karel Čapek, R.U.R. OR Václav Havel, Vyrozumění

 

Karel Jaromír Erben, Kytice

 

Karel Hynek Mácha, Máj

Celtic:

Prescribed texts. Three essays from a choice of questions on the following set texts:

 

Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed, ed. R. L. Thomson (Dublin, 1957);

 

Branwen ferch Lyr, ed. D. Thomson (Dublin, 1961);

 

Saunders Lewis, Brandwen, in Saunders Lewis, Dramâu'r Parlwr: Branwen a Dwy Briodas Ann (Llandybïe: Christopher Davies, 1975);

 

Poems of the Cywyddwyr, ed. E. I. Rowlands (Dublin, 1976);

 

Scéla Muicce Meic Dathó, ed. R. Thurneysen (Dublin, 1976), pp. 33–41;

 

Longes Mac n-Uislenn, ed. V. Hull (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1949).

1 Czech (with Slovak) and Celtic may not be available in given years. Notice that these subjects will not be available will be given in the Gazette in the Trinity Term but one before the examination concerned.

2 Colleges will submit to the Undergraduate Studies Officer, Faculty of Modern Languages, 41 Wellington Square, by noon on Friday of Week 5 of Trinity Term a certificate stating that their candidates have attended and participated in at least eight oral classes, consisting of reading aloud and discussion in their languages(s) of passages dealing with issues in contemporary culture.