Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: French

Why choose French at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Edinburgh has one of the widest ranges of languages and joint honours programmes of any UK university. That creates a uniquely exciting and stimulating environment for language study. In QS World University rankings by Subject 2016, modern languages at Edinburgh was rated 4th in the UK and 17th in the world.

  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 70 per cent of our European languages and cultures research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent, in a joint submission with Celtic and Scottish Studies.

  • As a large and popular subject area, French at the University of Edinburgh offers you a wide range of courses covering French and Francophone culture from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. We offer specialist options in literature, film, politics and the history of ideas.

  • Students benefit from the University's close links with the Institut Français d'Ecosse and have access to a lively French cultural scene, including an active French theatre society and French film screenings and festivals.

Study abroad

There is a wide range of options on offer. The literary studies I took strengthened my analysis skills and I now apply them when analysing texts, events and people.

Erk Gunce 4th year MA (Hons) French & Linguistics
Erk Gunce 4th year MA (Hons) French & Linguistics

Studying French at the University of Edinburgh provides you with an excellent understanding of the language, literature and culture of the Francophone world and enables you to communicate effortlessly in the language. You will be offered a vast range of option courses as you progress through your programme (from Year 2 onwards). We offer up to 20 options in Year 4, including courses such as Literature and Film: the Challenge of Adaptation, Francophone Postcolonial Thought, Freud in France, Contemporary French Crime Fiction, The Monster in French Literature, The Modern City: Paris and Exploring Belgian Identities.

Our high-quality resources and expert teaching staff offer you a very supportive learning environment. In addition to our extensive web resources, you will have access to the National Library of Scotland's French collections, one of the best in the UK, and our Main Library's extensive collection of books, journals and electronic resources. You will be able to join the French theatre group or the debating group and to take part in the French Film Club.

We have close links with the French Institute in Edinburgh. We organise joint events throughout the year, such as the Journée de la Francophonie and guest speakers.

Year 1

If you have a limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A in Year 1. This is an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture. If you have studied French beyond Standard Grade or GCSE, you will take French 1B, which develops your linguistic skills and acquaints you with aspects of modern French literature, culture and civilisation. To do this, you will study texts (novels, theatre, poetry) and films which focus on social and political events from the Second World War to the end of the 20th Century: resistance and collaboration, colonisation and decolonisation, The Fifth Republic, and May 1968.

Year 2

You will take French 2, which builds on your knowledge of the French language and French literature and culture from Year 1. You will be looking at the history of France through its literature from the 16th to the 19th century, including authors such as Molière, Flaubert, Baudelaire and many others. There are also option courses on European cinema, European theatre, medieval literature and culture, and French politics.

Year 3

You will spend all of Year 3 (or part of it if you are also taking another language) studying or working in a French-speaking country.

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in spoken and written French and choose from a wide range of specialist courses taught by world-leading experts, on topics as diverse as contemporary literature, 17th-Century Theatre, the French New Wave, French verse, film theory, French political thought, and conceptions of translation. A choice of up to 20 of these options is offered each year.

Are there additional costs?

Year 3 of your programme will be spent studying abroad. The normal residence requirement for a European language is 30 weeks in the relevant country or countries. Some students of French may apply for posts as English language assistants in schools, for which a salary is paid.

Costs vary according to destinations: capital cities are more expensive than provincial towns. For EU countries and Switzerland, a number of Erasmus/Socrates placements are available, which include a small grant from European Union funds.

Students studying more than one language must complete a minimum period of eight weeks in each country. Some limited government funding may be available from the University to assist with the cost of study abroad during the summer vacation.

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures, in the University's Central Area. We are based in a state-of-the-art building, at 50 George Square, which houses computer microlabs, a language resource centre, and social facilities as well as tutors' offices and lecture theatres.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad, either studying (normally through an Erasmus exchange in France, Belgium, or Switzerland), or in any French-speaking country as a teaching assistant or on a work placement.

The University has exchange places in 30 different institutions in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, ranging from prestigious universities including the Sorbonne in Paris, to specialised Grandes Ecoles. They include Politics Institutes (IEP), business schools, and, in Paris, ISIT (specialising in translation and interpreting) and the Ecole du Louvre. You will therefore be able to match your other subject during the year abroad if studying for joint honours.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and computer-assisted language learning. In Year 4 all your courses will be taught exclusively in French.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of exams and coursework.

The employment statistics for French graduates from the University of Edinburgh are impressive. Naturally, our graduates are well placed to enter employment where linguistic skills are of special value, for instance education, translating and interpreting, and international business. Within the EU, there is a high demand for graduates with a knowledge of the language and culture of one or more countries. Our graduates can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative, from physical theatre to the top of the Civil Service.