What courses? Italian (often offered as part of a joint honours degree with a multitude of other subjects)

What do you come out with? BA.

Why do it? "Studying Italian at university gives access to one of the world's greatest and oldest cultures, and to a massive EU market. If you’re interested in art or architecture - from Giotto to Leonardo, from Michelangelo to Marinetti - Italian is a must. If you're a literature buff, you’ll already know about Dante, the Italian Shakespeare (but 200 years earlier), and Italian writing retains a world standing to this day, not to mention its cinema. Italy has a thoroughly chequered past and present, and is fascinating for historians and political scientists. And finally, study Italian to do business with the world’s eighth largest economy” - Dr. Alan O'Leary, senior lecturer, department of Italian, University of Leeds

What’s it about? The language, sights, sounds and smells of Italy. Some courses are more language-focused than others so you’ve got to be careful when looking at the course structures that you find one with a mix of literature and language learning that suits you. Modules range from 20th century literature and feminist writings to more traditional literature. More and more students are taking Italian as a joint honours degree and at Durham you can opt for three languages. You can also take Italian joint honours with a host of other subjects from anatomical science to zoology. Expect lots of oral examinations to sharpen up those speaking skills and plenty of translation exercises.

Study options: Most courses are available at beginners’ and advanced level, but some universities don’t offer an advanced option. Cambridge, for example, expects beginners to have reached A-level standard by the end of their first year of study. A degree usually lasts four years, one of which is spent abroad. Common year abroad options include studying at an Italian university or working as a language assistant for the British Council. Some universities allow you to apply for other work placements, but these are often organised through private arrangements.

What will I need to do it? An interest in languages is expected. For example, the standard grade requirements for Cambridge are A*AA. Leeds asks for ABC or BBB, preferably including a modern language, or with a B in Italian A-level if applying for advanced study. Hull’s standard entry requirements are between 280 and 300 UCAS points; the equivalent of BBB-BBC at A-level.

What are my job prospects? Graduates go into business, translating, teaching, law, the media and further education. According to The Times’ Good University Guide 2012, six out of 10 graduates are in graduate-level jobs or further study within six months of completing their undergad, and 10 per cent are unemployed. Cambridge was the only university to see over 80 per cent of leavers go straight into graduate-level jobs. Starting salaries tend to be around the £19,000 mark.

Where’s best to do it? Cambridge came top in the Complete University Guide 2012, followed by Oxford, Leeds and Warwick. Students at Northumbria, Cambridge and Hull were most satisfied with their courses however.

Related degrees: German; Spanish; French; English; Celtic and Gaelic studies; classics.