Academic Pathway: Course Guide 2024/25

Key Information

Our Academic Courses pathway is specifically designed to address the professional and research needs of students and staff at the University of Oxford and enables you to engage with your field of specialisation through the target language. Academic courses run in French, German and Italian on a termly basis. The courses mainly focus on developing reading skills and strategies but can offer support in other skills if required. This pathway offers two Stages, one for beginners and one for learners who have some prior knowledge of the language (A1 – B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - CEFR).

It takes one year to complete one Stage. Each Stage is made up of three Parts: Part 1 in Michaelmas term, Part 2 in Hilary term and Part 3 in Trinity term.


Course duration Six weeks
When Weeks 2-7 of each term
Class frequency 1 class per week
Length of class 1 hour (for up to 8 students) / 1h 1/2 for up to 16 students
Online learning pathway and private study c.2 hours per week
Total   This represents a guided learning programme equivalent to approximately 2 hours of asynchronous learning plus 1 or 1 1/2 hours of live interaction each week.
Enrolment basis First come, first served
Funding for Oxford University students Fully funded option available via the Priority Funding scheme

Academic courses run on a termly basis. All courses are subject to sufficient levels of demand.


Stage 1

Stage 2

Our approach to teaching languages is action oriented, needs based and using meaningful and authentic documents as much as possible to support you in developing the necessary skills to achieve a higher level of competence in line with CEFR benchmarks.

Our approach aims to be informed by research and scholarship in the fields of Applied Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition and Educational Technology. We work closely with the learning framework developed by the Association of University language Communities in the UK and Ireland (AULC) and with the Flexible and Inclusive Teaching (FIT) framework of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Teaching and Learning. We aim to be inclusive, helping learners from a wide variety of backgrounds develop or maintain their foreign language skills, employing the most up-to-date practices grounded in cutting-edge scholarship.

We teach our courses through a flexible and inclusive mode either of delivery.

Each week of your Academic course you will:

  • Complete an online learning pathway focusing on language instruction, exercises and drills, and collaborative activities using Canvas (the University's Virtual Learning Environment). Each learning pathway aims to prepare you and support you to fully engage in the classroom activities and needs to be completed ahead of your class.
  • Attend a 1-hour or 1 1/2 hours class in groups of normally up to ten students (online) or 16 students (in-person). Classes with more than 8 students enrolled will last 1 1/2 hours.

This mode of delivery enables you to:

  • Work flexibly at your own pace.
  • Have access to a complete set of learning materials before each class and beyond the life of the course to master and review (you will retain access to the materials in Canvas until the start of the following course).
  • Get high quality generic and individual feedback
  • Use class time to interact with your peers and tutor, which gives you an excellent opportunity to put your weekly learning into practice.  If you enrol on an online course, the classes on MS Teams are recorded to enhance learning and support efficient feedback from your tutor. The recording will only be available to students registered for the class.

Stage 1 is reserved for complete beginners or for those with only very limited knowledge of the language.  It is only suitable for you if you have either never studied the language before or have tried to teach yourself a little or have done a course a long time ago but barely remember anything.

Stage 2 is designed for learners who either took a course with us in the not too distant past or have a GCSE or equivalent level.

If you have a qualification in the language above GCSE we would recommend that you opt for a General course, at Stage 4 or above.

Think about your past learning experience to see if it matches our Stage entry requirements – this is a rough guide of equivalence. Do bear in mind that if you have not used the language for a long time your competence will have diminished.

Stage CEFR (reading scale) entry requirement Equivalence in classroom learning  End of course target level
1 None No prior experience of learning the language B1 for reading*
2 A2/B1* Successful completion of Academic Stage 1 or good GCSE B2 for reading*

* Please see the CEFR reading scales section for details

If you would like to receive guidance on your level, please take our language level evaluation test via our dedicated 'assess your level' webpage below:



Once the course has started your tutor will be ensuring that all learners are studying for the Stage that most suits their needs.

We have designed all our courses to enable learners to progress as far as possible. However, the highest stage we can offer in a language is conditional on sufficient levels of demand.

Progression from Stage 1:
You do not need to have taken or passed the end of Trinity term optional assessments to progress to Stage 2, but it is highly recommended. Please note that if you do not enrol for a course beyond the completion of one Part, you will no longer have access to the materials for the course on Canvas when the next Part starts.

Progression from an Academic to another pathway:
Our pathways are designed to give you maximum flexibility in terms of changing the course and intensity of your learning journey; however, as Academic courses focus exclusively on reading competence, opting to progress on another pathway will require either some upskilling or a transition to a similar level course. 

If you have finished Academic Stage 1 Part 3 you can progress to General Stage 2 Part 1 or Fast Track 2+3, but you will need to practise listening and speaking. You could consider the option of taking a Stage 1 Part 3 course at the end of Trinity term to support your transition.

If you have finished Academic Stage 2 Part 3 you can progress to General Stage 3 Part 1, General Stage 2 Part 1, Fast Track Stage 2+3 or 3+4 depending on your speaking and listening skills.

We advise that you seek advice from your tutor with regards to your progression options at the end of the course or prior to re enrolment.

For members of Oxford University with a Single Sign-On, to enrol simply visit our language pages and click 'enrol' next to the class that you wish to join on the timetable. Before you click through to complete your booking and pay, do double-check that you have selected the course running on the day and time that suit you. Also note that the default price until you reach the payment page is set at the staff rate – the system will auto-correct the price to the student fee based on your SSO status before you are asked to input your credit or debit card details.

If your course is being paid for via the Priority Funding scheme – either by your college or by your faculty/department, the admin team at the Language Centre will enrol you onto your course once approval has been received. Students applying for Priority Funding must not book themselves onto a course – those who do will not be refunded.


If you do not have a University Single Sign On (SSO), please email with the following details:

  • Full name
  • Email address and phone number
  • The name of the course you wish to study (including Stage and Part)
  • The start date and time of the course
  • Your connection to Oxford University, if any (to determine course fee)

We will then provisionally enrol you onto the course and send you a link to the Oxford University Online Store for payment. Once payment is received, we will confirm your place on the course.

Please note that in accordance with the Terms and Conditions, you have the right to cancel your course booking at any time within 14 days of payment. Unless the course has started, you will receive a full refund of any payments you have made and no administration fee will be charged. For cancellations after 14 days, or for cancellations made after the course has started, please see our Terms and Conditions. If you have an Oxford SSO you can cancel your place via your CoSY account. If you don't have an SSO, please email with your cancellation request.


All Language Centre courses make extensive use of Canvas, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). All our courses are developed on an inclusive and flexible blended learning model, which rests upon multimedia pathways designed by our tutors for you in Canvas. 

In addition to this, we will usually ask you to purchase a textbook. As far as possible we endeavour to ensure that textbooks are economical and readily available, by liaising with specialist bookshops and publishers.

Blackwell's offers a 15% student discount at the beginning of each term for orders placed by phone or in the shop in Oxford (this does not apply to online orders). Please note that the Blackwell's buy-back scheme is no longer available.

We also host a second-hand textbook forum on the Virtual Language Centre in Canvas to help our community of learners sell and acquire textbooks. To check the availability of a given textbook or to sell one, please register on our Virtual Language Centre site on Canvas and follow the link to second-hand books.



Textbooks for 2023-24

No textbooks required

Academic Stage 1
(Recommended) Reading German: A Course Book and Reference Grammar
ISBN: 9780198700203

Academic Stage 2
No textbook required





Academic Stage 2
New Italian Grammar in Practice
ISBN: 9788861824287




A learning pathway is a unit of learning leading to a live class. Learning pathways typically include the sort of activities and tasks that are normally covered in a traditional face-to-face language class – or as part of the preparation towards that class – and which learners can do independently or collaboratively without necessarily being together at a given point in time.

For example, in an in-person class, the teacher usually explains new linguistic structures: grammar instruction is a good example of classroom learning that a tutor can prepare and include in a learning pathway, using a screencast video. You may play the recording as many times as you wish and if you are unsure about anything we include numerous opportunities for learners to sort out questions between themselves or to ask their tutor. In the learning pathway, learners may have to reflect about language use themselves first – through a quiz, for example – and the tutor may then provide the explanation based on the learners’ responses.

You can request a certificate of attendance if you have attended / engaged with at least 80% of the course.

In addition, all our courses give you the opportunity to obtain a certificate of course completion issued by the Language Centre and following an optional summative assignment at the end of the third term of the course. Certificates are awarded as a broad indicator of competence at the corresponding level of the CEFR.

To be eligible you need to:   

  •    Have attended all three parts in a given academic year in the same language (French Stage 1 Part 2 and French Stage 1 Part 3, for example)
  •    Have engaged with the course satisfactorily – alerting your tutor if you cannot attend a class and having done all the necessary tasks set by your tutor.
  •    Take the end of Trinity Term summative assignment – this will be a glossary with lexis related to your field of research and an annotated translation, done at home in timed conditions through the University VLE Canvas.

Certificates will be emailed to you two to three weeks after the end of Trinity term.

If you wish to make progress in the language you are studying, engagement with the learning materials and activities we provide as well as regular class attendance are very important. We understand that it may not always be possible for our learners to attend their classes every week. If you know of a reason why you will be absent, please inform your tutor.

If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to catch up on the work you have missed. All materials and (for online courses) live class recordings are available on Canvas, as well as the learning pathway for the following session. If you are struggling to catch up after having missed a class, you may post a question on Canvas to seek help from our community of learners, or you may raise this with your tutor at the next class.

Remember that in languages regular practice is important – if you miss a class, particularly on a lower-level course, you may have missed a lot of important new structures and explanations. Not keeping up with the pace of the course may also be disruptive to the quality of the class. It is your responsibility to remain engaged and seek support in a timely manner if needed.

All our courses are subject to quality monitoring and annual review cycles.

We collect feedback from our learners informally during the course and formally at the end of each course. We review your feedback and where possible adjust our courses and systems in light of your experience at the Language Centre.

Below are some comments from previous students on academic courses:


'I really enjoyed all the texts we read and definitely feel I have got used to the French style and understand a lot more about how to decipher more abstract expressions. A good range of straightforward prose and denser/abstracted theoretical prose.'

'The classes are enjoyable and have a good atmosphere -– but also do not take up too much time in the week, which is important when there is so much other work to do. The additional work done outside of the class helps to build understanding quickly independently and therefore allows each class to feel easier and more comfortable.'

'We use texts submitted by the class -– this is a good way of operating and is helpful for those who submit texts relevant to their subject-area. It also means the texts are genuinely authentic academic German articles that are challenging but increasingly familiar.'

'I found the live sessions were a great way to connect across continents. To share our interest and enthusiasm for our research topics and witness how French connected such a diverse range of disciplines.'

'I feel for the first time that I've learnt so much from a language course. It was pitched at the right level but was also challenging. We covered a lot of content, and it was all paced very well. I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone and cannot wait to continue next year.'

'I am genuinely delighted to have the option to extend my language skills while studying at Oxford. I need to be able to read Italian for my studies, so the Language Centre Academic course has been ideal. The standard of teaching is excellent: the breadth of my tutor’s knowledge is impressive, and his explanations are very clear, plus there is a nice friendly atmosphere in the class.'

We very much hope you enjoy your course at the Language Centre but should you be dissatisfied with any aspect of your learning, your first port of call should be to raise the matter directly with your tutor. Where you feel that this is not possible, you should follow our complaints policy.

For online or any hybrid delivery courses, there may be a weekly live session delivered through MS Teams or Zoom: this session may be recorded and saved to enhance learning, allow catch up/revision and support efficient feedback from your tutor. The recording will only be available to learners registered for the course, your tutor and any supporting administrators. Recordings are kept for up to one year then deleted.

Recording retention policy: information for learners

Language Centre online live teaching sessions may be recorded and saved to enhance learning, allow catch up/revision and support efficient feedback from your tutor. As the organiser of these meetings, the Language Centre and its tutors follow the University’s best practice guidelines, as below:

  •     Consideration is given to the classification and sensitivity of any material being discussed.
  •     Learners are advised that recording is taking place, with MS Teams/Zoom automatically displaying a message informing all those in the teaching session that the class is being recorded. Learners are also advised in advance through the course guide and our terms and conditions.
  •     The tutor is responsible for the onward sharing to participants, dissemination, retention and deletion of recorded teaching sessions, which are stored within the Canvas VLE. Recordings are kept for a maximum of one year and are then deleted.
  •     The tutor ensures that the recording complies with the University’s Regulations for the Administration of Intellectual Property.
Class participants
  •     Any participants who have concerns about being recorded are asked to discuss these with their tutor in advance.  
  •     Participants should ensure they have muted their microphone if they do not wish to be recorded.
  •     Participants may not use third-party video or screen capture services (or a separate recorder) to record the meeting unbeknown to the organiser or other attendees. Any participant who records a session without explicit authorisation to do so will be in breach of University policy and subsequently the IT regulations.


If a participant has a concern or query regarding matters relating to recorded personal information, this should be referred in the first instance to the Language Centre’s Admin team:

Level Overall reading comprehension
B2 Can read with a large degree of independence, adapting style and speed of reading to different texts and purposes, and using appropriate reference sources selectively. Has a broad active reading vocabulary but may experience some difficulty with low-frequency idioms.
B1 Can read straightforward factual texts on subjects related to his/her field and interests with a satisfactory level of comprehension.
A2 Can understand short, simple texts on familiar matters of a concrete type which consist of high frequency every day or job-related language. Can understand short, simple texts containing the highest frequency vocabulary, including a proportion of shared international vocabulary items.
A1 Can understand very short, simple texts a single phrase at a time, picking up familiar names, words and basic phrases and rereading as required.
Pre-A1 Can recognise familiar words accompanied by pictures, such as a fast-food restaurant menu illustrated with photos or a picture book using familiar vocabulary.


Level Reading for information and argument
B2 Can obtain information, ideas and opinions from highly specialised sources within his/her field.
Can understand specialised articles outside his/her field, provided he/she can use a dictionary occasionally to confirm his/her interpretation of terminology.
Can understand articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular stances or viewpoints. Can recognise when a text provides factual information and when it seeks to convince readers of something. Can recognise different structures in discursive text: contrasting arguments, problem-solution presentation and cause-effect relationships.
B1 Can understand straightforward, factual texts on subjects relating to his/her interests or studies. Can understand short texts on subjects that are familiar or of current interest, in which people give their points of view (e.g. critical contributions to an online discussion forum or readers’ letters to the editor). Can identify the main conclusions in clearly signalled argumentative texts. Can recognise the line of argument in the treatment of the issue presented, though not necessarily in detail. Can recognise significant points in straightforward newspaper articles on familiar subjects. Can understand most factual information that he/she is likely to come across on familiar subjects of interest, provided he/she has sufficient time for re-reading. Can understand the main points in descriptive notes such as those on museum exhibits and explanatory boards in exhibitions.
A2 Can identify specific information in simpler written material he/she encounters such as letters, brochures and short newspaper articles describing events. Can follow the general outline of a news report on a familiar type of event, provided that the contents are familiar and predictable. Can pick out the main information in short newspaper reports or simple articles in which figures, names, illustrations and titles play a prominent role and support the meaning of the text. Can understand the main points of short texts dealing with everyday topics (e.g. lifestyle, hobbies, sports, weather). Can understand texts describing people, places, everyday life, and culture, etc., provided that they are written in simple language. Can understand information given in illustrated brochures and maps, e.g. the principal attractions of a city or area. Can understand the main points in short news items on subjects of personal interest (e.g. sport, celebrities). Can understand a short factual description or report within his/her own field, provided that it is written in simple language and does not contain unpredictable detail. Can understand most of what people say about themselves in a personal ad or post and what they say they like in other people.
A1 Can get an idea of the content of simpler informational material and short simple descriptions, especially if there is visual support. Can understand short texts on subjects of personal interest (e.g. news flashes about sports, music, travel, or stories etc.) written with simple words and supported by illustrations and pictures.
Pre-A1 Can understand the simplest informational material that consists of familiar words and pictures.


Level Reading for orientation
B2 Can scan quickly through several sources (articles, reports, websites, books etc.) in parallel, in both his/her own field and in related fields, and can identify the relevance and usefulness of particular sections for the task at hand. Can scan quickly through long and complex texts, locating relevant details. Can quickly identify the content and relevance of news items, articles and reports on a wide range of professional topics, deciding whether closer study is worthwhile.
B1 Can scan longer texts in order to locate desired information, and gather information from different parts of a text, or from different texts in order to fulfil a specific task. Can scan through straightforward, factual texts in magazines, brochures or in the web, identify what they are about and decide whether they contain information that might be of practical use. Can find and understand relevant information in everyday material, such as letters, brochures and short official documents. Can pick out important information about preparation and usage on the labels on foodstuffs and medicine. Can assess whether an article, report or review is on the required topic. Can understand the important information in simple, clearly drafted adverts in newspapers or magazines, provided that there are not too many abbreviations.
A2 Can find specific information in practical, concrete, predictable texts (e.g. travel guidebooks, recipes), provided they are written in simple language. Can understand the main information in short and simple descriptions of goods in brochures and websites (e.g. portable digital devices, cameras, etc.). Can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus, reference lists and timetables. Can locate specific information in lists and isolate the information required (e.g. use the ‘Yellow Pages’ to find a service or tradesman). Can understand everyday signs and notices etc. in public places, such as streets, restaurants, railway stations, in workplaces, such as directions, instructions, hazard warnings.
A1 Can recognise familiar names, words and very basic phrases on simple notices in the most common everyday situations. Can understand store guides (information on which floors departments are on) and directions (e.g. to where to find lifts). Can understand basic hotel information, e.g. times when meals are served. Can find and understand simple, important information in advertisements, in programmes for special events, in leaflets and brochures (e.g. what is proposed, costs, the date and place of the event, departure times etc.).
Pre-A1 Can understand simple everyday signs. Can find information about places, times and prices on posters, flyers and notices.


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