What courses? Spanish; Hispanic studies (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 Spanish in order to learn the language? This and much more: 400 million speakers, most of them living in Latin America and also many in the USA. At university one can find out how immigrants in the USA speak 'Spanglish'; that South America has a vibrant cinema scene, or one can learn about the mysterious Incas of Peru. 'Spanish' means so many different ways of expressing oneself and of living as well as learning, how to approach different themes and the disciplines used to study them. And of course, all this variety opens up just as many professional opportunities, e.g. publicity, museums, management, publishing." - Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Saenz, senior lecturer in Latin American studies at the University of Stirling

What’s it about? The language, literature and culture of Spain; discovering in excess the erotic paintings of Salvador Dalí, the architecture of Gaudi, bull-fighting and the musical flavour of flamenco dancing. The course structure tends to be a healthy mix of literature and language. The first year at most places is a foundation year in which you will learn about key elements of the literature, film, history and society of the Spanish-speaking world. After this your options broaden and you’ll have the chance to pursue interests in Latin American studies and you can even take up modules in Catalan or Portuguese. Lively discussions and debates will form a lot of the practical elements of the degree where you’ll be able to discuss and learn about current and topical issues. A year abroad in your third year will be a fundamental part of your study; expect lots of oral classes in preparation to brush up on those speaking skills!

Study options: A degree usually lasts four years, one of which is spent abroad. Common year abroad options include studying at a Spanish or Mexican university or working as a teaching assistant in Spain or Latin America.

What will I need to do it? Oxford wants three As at A-level, including an A in Spanish; no surprise there. Durham asks for AAB and Cardiff and Lancaster want ABB. A level Spanish is essential for post A level courses but beginners’ courses in Spanish usually require another modern language 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, 65 per cent of graduates are in graduate-level jobs or further study within six months of completing their undergrad, while only 6 per cent are unemployed. Expect a starting salary of around £20,500.

Where’s best to do it? Oxford came top of the Complete University Guide 2012, closely followed by Cambridge, Durham and St Andrews. Student satisfaction was highest at Northumbria (which only offers Spanish as part of a joint degree with either English or European studies), Cambridge (as part of their modern and medieval languages programme) and Oxford.

Related degrees: Italian; German; French; English; Celtic and Gaelic studies; Chinese; Arabic and Middle Eastern studies; African studies.