Beyond the intensive study of the French language, French Studies at Edinburgh allows you to explore the exciting contribution of French speakers to world culture. Some of the most striking literary texts ever written are in French, French cinema is one of the world’s richest and Paris has long been the centre of the art world. French political and philosophical ideas have played a central role in creating our modern civilisation. As a large subject area, the French Section can offer undergraduates a wide range of courses spanning from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, including specialist options in literature, film and politics.
With 55% of research rated as 4* world-leading or 3* internationally excellent in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, the French Section has a very strong overall ranking within the discipline. The wide variety of degrees that can be taken in combination with French is a great attraction, and the existence of an outside subject “slot” in first year gives flexibility to many degree curricula. You will spend part or all of your third year working or studying in a Francophone country as part of your four-year degree. And in fourth year, back in Edinburgh, you will find yourself engaged in genuine intellectual debate, in French, with tutors who are leading specialists (as well as infectious enthusiasts) in their field.
Students are supported by high-quality resources: the National Library of Scotland has one of the best French collections in Britain and the University Library holds a very extensive collection of books, journals and electronic resources.
The first two years of French consist of a common programme designed to develop students’ linguistic competence, and also to acquaint them with aspects of French literature of all periods, and with modern film and politics. The third and fourth years continue with advanced language work, and allow students a wide choice from a range of specialist options. Each of the first two years of French is a distinct unit and is assessed separately. Students must pass each year at the required level before being allowed into the next.
A course designed for those with limited knowledge of French, typically a Scottish Standard Grade, this involves intensive language learning and an introduction to French culture, including literary texts, film and politics. Students who complete the course successfully may continue into French 2 and later into Honours if they wish.
In addition to language work, written and spoken, this course comprises work on France since 1940. The central social and political issues of the period are studied, together with contemporary literary texts and films, and are taught in such a way as to ensure that all elements of the course complement each other.
French 2 continues the work begun in first year but extends the culture studied back to cover the 15th to 19th centuries. Texts are chosen to illustrate the main literary genres popular during that period, including classical tragedy, the novel, autobiography and poetry, and include some of France’s most celebrated writers. Language work continues with advanced oral work with native speakers and instruction in translation and précis writing in French. From the end of the first semester, all classes in French 2 are taught in French.
Single Honours French students spend a minimum of 30 weeks in a French-speaking country, usually as university students or as assistants in a school. Joint degree students taking French with another non-language subject usually enrol in a university or equivalent. We have numerous partnerships with prestigious universities and Grandes Ecoles in France, Belgium and Switzerland (Paris IV Sorbonne; Paris Dauphine; Institut d’Etudes Politiques Lyon, Rennes and Grenoble; Université Libre de Bruxelles; Ecole de Traduction et d’Interprétation, University of Geneva; Ecole du Louvre, etc.), which provide high quality courses. In the case of joint degrees involving two languages, it is possible to divide the minimum of 30 weeks residence between two countries. It is also possible for students to undertake paid work while abroad. Even when students are abroad during their third year, they are still matriculated students of the University of Edinburgh and they do work for French and for any other subject taken in a joint degree.
For all students, language work at an advanced level, spoken and written, takes up a large part of the timetable. In addition, we offer a wide range of Options chosen by students according to their preferences, and taught in tutorial groups. Single Honours students take four Options; Joint Honours students usually take either one or two Options; most Honours students also write a dissertation in French. It is here that the wide expertise of the staff is especially beneficial as the courses offered all relate to their areas of specialist research.
This article was published on Sep 13, 2012