Languages at the UPC




Frequently asked questions on the use of languages at the UPC

What are the UPC’s languages?

Catalan, Spanish and English are working and communication languages at the UPC. Catalan is the official language proper to the University and its normal means of expression (Art. 11, UPC Statutes). Spanish is also an official language, and English is the international language.

How much are Catalan, Spanish and English used on bachelor’s degrees?

On bachelor’s degrees, about 70% of classes are taught in Catalan, 20% in Spanish and 10% in English, although these figures vary between UPC degrees and schools. Catalan is the main language on these degrees.

What about master’s and doctoral degrees?

English and Spanish are used more widely on master’s and doctoral degrees than they are on bachelor’s degrees; several master’s and doctoral degrees are taught entirely in one of these two languages.

What language are teaching materials in?

Teaching materials (lecture notes, transparencies, slides, dossiers, etc.) are generally available in the language of instruction.

Can a subject have different groups taught in different languages?

Yes. Subjects can have several class groups taught in different languages: Catalan, Spanish and English.

Can I find out what language a subject is taught in before I enrol?

Yes. The UPC is committed to making information on the language of instruction for each class group available to students before enrolment. It is a measure of language transparency shared with the other Catalan universities, as described in the Protocol on Language Use in the Classroom. You will find this information in the course guides and the timetables published on schools’ websites.

Can I ask a professor to change language in class?

No. The Protocol on Language Use in the Classroom establishes that students must respect the stated language of instruction and not ask for the language to be changed for their class group. According to the Protocol, professors must maintain the stated language during the entire teaching period. Therefore, the stated language is the language in which classes will be taught. This is a commitment made by the UPC.

Can I choose what language I express myself in in class?

Yes. In subjects taught in Catalan or Spanish, students can chose to express themselves orally and in writing in either of the official languages, regardless of the subject’s language of instruction. You can also use English if you come to an agreement with the professor beforehand.

Can I chose the language in which I do exams and assignments?

Yes. In subjects taught in Catalan or Spanish, you can sit exams and hand in assignments in the official language of your choice, regardless of the subject’s language of instruction. You can also use English if you come to an agreement with the professor beforehand.

What are my language rights as a mobility student at the UPC?

You have the same rights as local students: the right to information on the language of instruction of a subject before you enrol; the right to be taught in the stated language; and the right to express yourself, orally and in writing, including in exams, in the official language of your choice. You can also use English if you come to an agreement with the professor. All of these rights are set out in the Protocol on Language Use in the Classroom, approved by the UPC’s Governing Council.

Do I have to know Catalan and Spanish to study at the UPC?

There are no general requirements for knowledge of Catalan and Spanish that apply to all degrees and schools, but some degrees do have them. Find out the language of instruction of the subjects on the degree you’re interested in to know which languages your classes will be in and whether you need any training before or when you arrive.

How can I learn Catalan before arriving in Catalonia?

Catalan is taught at many universities around the world. The Ramon Llull Institute coordinates Catalan teaching all over the world, and its website lists all the universities at which Catalan courses are taught. You can learn Catalan using the free version of or in the Intercat portal, which has a large collection of free resources.

Once I am here, what Catalan courses can I take?

All exchange students at a Catalan university can take Catalan courses at a reduced price. The Language and Terminology Service offers basic to advanced courses that combine face-to-face classes and independent online learning. The Catalan for Beginners course would be a good start, allowing you to engage with the language for the first time.

Does the UPC have a language reception programme for international students?

Yes. The UPC has a language and cultural reception programme consisting of welcome sessions and workshops designed to familiarise you with the language and the cultural milieu. It also includes Catalan courses and a mentoring programme, SALSA’M, that pairs up local and international students from the same school, provides support when you arrive and organises group leisure and cultural activities and language exchanges over the course of your stay.

Are there Spanish courses for foreigners?

Yes. On our website you’ll find information on face-to-face and online Spanish courses. Click here if that’s what you’re looking for.

So, what language services are available at the UPC and where do I start?

This page offers a 10-step guide that will help you to get your bearings and find all the services and resources that the UPC provides to support you in your ‘linguistic landing’ at our university.

What is Catalan exactly?

Catalan is a language derived from Latin. It isn’t a dialect, therefore, as is sometimes mistakenly claimed, but a Romance language like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.

Is it difficult to learn?

Catalan is no harder or easier to learn than any other language. For a person who speaks one or more Romance languages, Catalan is easy to understand, particularly the written language and the scientific language.

Does it help to speak Spanish or another Romance language?

It helps a great deal. Most international students on an academic stay at a Catalan university already speak Spanish. This is an excellent starting point for learning Catalan, given that the vocabulary and grammar are very similar.

Where is Catalan spoken?

Catalan is the language specific to Catalonia and shares official status with Spanish. It is present in all spheres of society, from the media to schools. It is also spoken in the Valencian Community, part of Aragón, the Balearic Islands, Andorra and the city of Alghero on the Italian island of Sardinia.

How many people speak it?

The territories above have more than 13 million inhabitants, of which about 10 million speak Catalan. This makes it a medium-sized language community in the European Union in terms of the number of speakers, alongside languages like Swedish, Greek or Portuguese. This guide by the Catalan government may prove helpful.

Whom should I talk to if I have any more questions?

If you have any questions on the use of languages at the UPC or any doubts that need clarifying, please contact us via Demana SLT.