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Study Spanish at Otago

Languages take you places.

Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is the official language for more than 400 million people and is spoken in Spain, Central and South America, Mexico, the United States, the Philippines and some parts of Africa. Within the Pacific Rim context, Spanish is expected to become a major language of communication in coming years.

Spanish-speaking countries account for an increasing proportion of world trade and are becoming important target markets for New Zealand exporters. The New Zealand government has also indicated a strong interest in developing cultural links with South America.

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Why study Spanish?

Language specialists are constantly in demand in the modern world of global travel and communication. As New Zealand continues to strengthen its international relationships, there will be a need for Spanish speaking graduates to represent New Zealand's interests in the Spanish-speaking world.

Learning a language broadens horizons. The University's exchange programme enables you to embark on an adventure with unforgettable experiences abroad. Living for several months in a country thousands of miles from home gives a boost to your confidence and valuable first-hand knowledge and understanding of another culture.

Career opportunities

With Spanish in your background, you can carry your language skills into the fields of planning and consultancy, information sciences, journalism, publishing and advertising, finance and banking, tourism and hospitality and all levels of the education system. Depending on your choice of papers, you will be able to offer specialised skills in dual-language business management or the literature, politics, society and culture of the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish at Otago

Spanish is taught through the communicative approach, which emphasises your production skills in the language you are learning. You will have many opportunities to improve your speaking and comprehension skills using the latest text, audio, video and internet resources, including regular screenings of recent Spanish-language movies.

The University of Otago has a collaboration agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Education which means our students have priority in the language assistance programme in Spain where they can choose to study for either half a year or a full year.

Every year the Spanish programme grants an award to the top student studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Spanish.

Apart from language courses, you can also choose papers which will give you perspectives on the social values and cultural life of the many countries around the world where Spanish is spoken. Some of these courses explore the social history of a particular period, others focus on cultural specifics such as cinema, literature and the arts.

These courses reflect the varied research interests of the staff in the Spanish programme:  Latin American narrative, poetry, micro fiction, linguistics, historiography of linguistics, Spanish variation, Latin American and Spanish 19th century literature and 20th century popular culture.

Majors, minors and diplomas

Spanish is available as both a major and a minor subject of the Bachelor of Arts programme.

Spanish can be combined with another BA major or form part of a double degree. We offer the Diploma in Spanish Language or the Diploma in Spanish Language and Culture for students who major in other subjects. Minors in Spanish Language or Spanish Culture are available too.

For a BA majoring in Spanish you must complete 10 Spanish language and culture papers, plus an additional 10 papers either from within the department and/or from other departments. If you are considering teaching Spanish, a minor in Linguistics can help you understand the mechanics of languages and how we learn them.

The minor in Spanish Language or Spanish Culture comprises either five Spanish Language or five Spanish Culture papers. The minor can be combined with any Bachelor of Arts, Commerce, Theology or Science degree.

The Diploma in Spanish Language comprises seven Spanish language papers, two at 100 level, three at 200 level and two at 300 level.

The Diploma in Spanish Language and Culture comprises seven Spanish language and culture papers, at least two at 300 level and a combination at 100 and 200 level.

BA Honours, MA or PhD

BA Honours requires an extra year of study; you can go for one semester to a University in Spain or Latin America to experience language and culture papers taught in the target language and embedded in the cultural environment.

Students who are interested in further research in Spanish can join our MA or PhD programmes or undertake a jointly supervised postgraduate degree with other departments in the University.

Student Exchange

Otago has established exchange relationships with universities in Spain and Latin America. If your marks average B or better, you may qualify to attend one of these institutions for a semester or two. Honours students are able to benefit even more with a semester of immersion, in-country study. You pay only your New Zealand fees, and complete your qualification within the same time-frame as if you had never been away. Competitive scholarships are available to support students on exchange.

Background required

No previous knowledge of Spanish is required.


Spanish as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


Five SPAN papers,  at least three of which must be above 100-level, including at least one at 300-level.


SPAN papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
SPAN131 2024 Introductory Spanish 1 18 Semester 1
SPAN132 2024 Introductory Spanish 2 18 Semester 2
SPAN231 2024 Intermediate Spanish 1 18 Semester 1
SPAN232 2024 Intermediate Spanish 2 18 Semester 2
SPAN243 2024 Latin American Culture and Literature 18 Not offered in 2024
SPAN250 2024 Sacred Stories: Myths and Legends in Hispanic Culture 18 Not offered in 2024
SPAN251 2024 Latin American Cultural Travel 18 Semester 2
SPAN331 2024 Advanced Spanish 1 18 Semester 1
SPAN332 2024 Advanced Spanish 2 18 Semester 2
SPAN341 2024 Special Topic in Hispanic Studies 18 Not offered in 2024
SPAN343 2024 Latin American Popular Culture 18 Semester 1
SPAN350 2024 Sacred Stories: Myths and Legends in Hispanic Culture (Advanced) 18 Not offered in 2024
SPAN351 2024 Latin American Cultural Travel (Advanced) 18 Semester 2
SPAN441 2024 Advanced Topics in Spanish 20 Not offered in 2024
SPAN451 2024 Studies in Spanish 20 Not offered in 2024
SPAN452 2024 Studies in Spanish 2 20 Not offered in 2024
SPAN490 2024 Dissertation 60 Not offered in 2024
SPAN590 2024 Research Dissertation 60 Not offered in 2024

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This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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