Languages & cultures

Enrich your studies with global perspectives and become an intercultural communicator

Three women have a serious discussion about their work

Study with one of Australia’s top five faculties for modern languages* 

By studying languages and cultures at UNSW, you’ll explore the importance of intercultural communications and how it has become a significant part of daily life. Mastering language skills, cross-cultural understanding, and engaging with people from other countries and cultures will enrich your global perspective and prepare you for an international career.

*QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2024

Why study a language or culture?

Studying a language or culture is essential for effectively communicating and interacting with people from diverse cultures. Learning a language goes beyond the linguistic skills you’ll gain by opening your mind to the historical and cultural background that forms different worldviews. In a globally connected world, appreciation of different cultures helps us to become global citizens who collaborate, promote peace and build more inclusive communities. These skills can open doors to international career opportunities and empower you to play an active role in shaping a cooperative, inclusive and better world for all.

Career opportunities in languages and cultures

Studying language and cultures prepares you for a wide range of careers, from commerce, finance and business to diplomacy, education, tourism, media, and public service. Our graduates develop skills that are sought after in diplomacy, government, translation and interpreting, journalism, arts, science and technology, education, mining, hospitality, tourism and business.

International exchange, short courses and study tours

UNSW encourages you to spend time studying overseas, studying at one of our partner institutions as part of your degree. We manage a large and active exchange program with over 300 partner universities around the world.

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On-campus community and facilities

Engage in unique cultural experiences through UNSW Languages Week, a multi-day event celebrating the diverse languages taught at UNSW. Utilise our state-of-the-art language laboratories, conference interpreting facilities and translation technology. 

What languages you can study at UNSW?

  • Chinese is the language used by over a billion people worldwide. At UNSW, you can learn Chinese with introductory courses or develop your skills in a language with a rich cultural heritage and paramount importance in global business and international relations. Chinese studies at UNSW are widely regarded as the first choice for students interested in Chinese language and culture. We have the largest number of students enrolled in Chinese studies in Australia.

    You’ll have full access to both the CJNK database and the Chinese Periodicals Full-text Database, developed by Shanghai Library. The former provides comprehensive coverage of modern scholarly journals from China, and the latter includes historical periodicals published in China between 1911 and 1949.

    UNSW HSK Centre

    The UNSW HSK Centre offers a full range of HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) tests and HSK preparation classes at different levels. Visit our website to find out more.

    You can study Chinese Studies in various ways, including: 

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  • Japan has important connections to Australia and Asia politically, strategically and economically. Whether you have a connection with Japanese music, anime and manga, or have ambitions to work with one of Australia’s major economic partners, Japanese studies at UNSW will further your understanding and knowledge of Japan’s language, society and customs.

    UNSW is home to one of Australia's largest and most innovative Japanese programs. The Australian Federal Government awarded our teaching staff the prestigious Citation Award for being some of Australia's "most inspiring" teachers. 

    We offer Japanese language courses from introductory to professional level, and advanced professional courses with themes ranging from manga and literature to business Japanese and courses on Japanese history and culture.

    You'll also have the opportunity to go on academic exchange at one of our 21 exchange partner universities in Japan, including the prestigious University of Tokyo and University of Kyoto, as well as leading private universities, Waseda and Keio.

    You can study Japanese Studies courses in various ways, including:

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  • South Korea has a high-tech globalised economy that is celebrated for its iconic pop culture. At UNSW, we offer insight into the language and people in this dynamic country. South Korea and Australia have had close ties since the 1950s. As the South Korean economy grows, your Korean language competency and cultural knowledge will open up a world of opportunities. 

    UNSW offers one of the region’s most active Korean studies programs, providing a balance of Korean language skills and knowledge with cultural study. You can study various courses, including language courses for all levels, courses on Korean culture, Korea’s relationship with Japan and Korea’s place in East Asia. Korean classes are structured to maximise individual attention and allow ample opportunity for regular interaction in Korean.

    You'll also have opportunities to study as an exchange student at one of South Korea’s leading universities, such as Seoul National, Korea and Yonsei.

    You can study Korean Studies in various ways, including:

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  • French is the traditional language of international diplomacy and is one of the official working languages of the United Nations and many other international governmental and non-governmental organisations. Our program will not only develop your ability to communicate in French but will also explore the French-speaking world through the study of arts (literature, cinema, theatre, Impressionism), linguistics, society and contemporary popular culture. 

    Your skills in this globally spoken European language will enhance your career prospects in Australia and abroad. You'll gain French communication skills and learn more generally about the structure and function of language while studying French and Francophone literature, film, linguistics and cultures.

    You can study French Studies in various ways, including: 

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  • Spanish is the language of over 400 million people. It’s spoken officially in 23 countries and is the de facto second language of the United States, with approximately 40 million native Spanish speakers.

    Our Spanish studies program will enable you to become familiar with the Spanish language as spoken in its contemporary cultural context. Courses will give you an informed understanding of the Spanish-speaking world through the study of language, literature, film, art, civilisation and history.

    Our exchange programs with universities in Spain and Latin America will enhance your learning by offering in-country exposure to these societies and cultures. For more information, check out our outbound opportunities.

    Find out more

  • German is the most widely spoken native language in Europe. German studies at UNSW emphasise integrating the study of the social, historical and cultural developments in German society with the teaching of practical language skills. This approach aims to help you achieve a high level of communicative competence in German and gain a critical understanding of this fascinating modern European society and global economic superpower.

    German Academic Exchange Services Scholarships

    The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) offers a range of scholarships to enable students of German and European studies to study and research in Germany. 

    You can study German Studies in various ways, including: 

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  • The European languages of Greek and Italian are offered at introductory levels at UNSW. If you'd like to further your studies, we have entered into a three-year agreement with the University of Sydney to allow you to undertake advanced study in Greek and Italian at the University of Sydney.

    You can study Greek Studies and Italian Studies in various ways, including:

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  • Indonesian Studies enables you to explore the fascinating linguistic and cultural heritage of one of Australia's closest neighbours. This study area equips you with appropriate knowledge and skills for communicating in standard Indonesian/Malay and for critical reading of sources in the language.

    Choosing Indonesian Studies at UNSW allows you to combine the teaching of practical language skills with the study of Indonesia’s history, society, culture, and customs. You’ll be able to understand specific intricacies of Indonesian culture, working with cultural experts to help you uncover the unique heritage and politics of this fascinating and richly diverse island nation.

    Find out more

Study with us

Our language courses are designed for students of all language levels. Entry is flexible, so your language course will be tailored to your level of experience and skills.

Beginners courses focus on language skills and grammar using a communicative approach emphasising interaction. Courses at intermediate, advanced and professional levels maintain and develop language skills while providing in-depth contextual knowledge through studying popular culture, history, linguistics and literature.

Language Placement Questionnaire

The Language Placement Questionnaire is a series of questions designed to help you enrol in classes most appropriate to your level of language knowledge.

If you have prior language experience or are a native speaker of a particular language, you're required to complete a language placement in order to be placed at an appropriate starting point. The online language placement is for students enrolling in a language at UNSW for the first time.