Undergraduate study | French
Learn the French language and explore the exciting contribution of French speakers to world culture.
Why study French in Edinburgh?
French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. At Edinburgh, you'll learn about French and Francophone literature, cinema, art, political and philosophical ideas, as well as mastering the language itself.
The University of Edinburgh is unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working. If you are studying French with another language, you will divide your time between two countries, broadening your skills and experience.
One of the most attractive characteristics of our degree is its flexibility. As well as lots of joint honours combinations, your first two (pre-honours) years will give you the option to study other subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines.
Join French and Francophone Studies, and you’ll be part of one of the largest subject areas in a School passionate about languages, literatures and cultures from around the globe. You will benefit from a wide range of courses, great resources and friendly staff who are experts in their fields. There are lots of French-focused activities, societies and clubs in Edinburgh, including the Students' Association's Escogriffes theatre society. We are home to the Centre de Recherches Francophones Belge and have excellent links with the Institut Français d’Ecosse.
I adore the academic breadth and depth of the French curriculum offered here at Edinburgh. The tutors’ and lecturers’ dynamic encouragement of independent thinking has enabled me to examine topics ranging from Montaigne’s scepticism to Modiano’s postmodern fiction through a critical lens. In particular, the structure of the programme consistently inspires me to explore French and Francophone literature through a plethora of contextual frameworks: philosophical, historical, political, and more.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Honours) degree. You can take French as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects.
Years 1 & 2
The first two years will provide a solid foundation in the French language (written and spoken), so that by the end of Year 2, you are ready for your year abroad.
In your courses on French and Francophone culture, you will experience the extraordinary richness and variety of one of the world’s great civilisations. You will study literature, film and political history from the 16th century to the 21st century. You will study works thought of as classics and those that have been considered marginal to French culture because of gender or colonial politics.
- Whether you’re doing single or joint honours, you’ll do the same amount of French in these pre-honours years. You’ll gain the rest of your credits from partner subject courses, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses, of which single honours students take more. This choice and flexibility may enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- Your third year will typically be spent abroad, either studying or working, turning classroom learning into living engagement with other cultures. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of French.
- If French is the only language you are studying, your Year Abroad will be in a French-speaking country. If you’re doing a joint degree with another language, you’ll divide your time and travel plans between your two languages.
- As well as developing advanced language skills in these years, you will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from covering topics such as: French political thought; 17th- and 19th century theatre; autobiography; the modern city; French New Wave; and France's relations with former colonies.
My year abroad was amazing. I made lots of friends, earned invaluable work experience and had some experiences I will never forget.
- You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in the city’s historic centre.
- Our School has its own Study Resource Centre, in-house screening room and computing labs. The Main University Library is just across the square from us, and the nearby National Library of Scotland hosts one of the best French collections in the UK.
- Our world-leading festival city is also filled with cinemas, theatres, and galleries. Edinburgh’s French film scene is particularly strong, with an annual French Film Festival in November and plenty to see throughout the year.
Teaching and learning
- French and Francophone Studies is a large and popular subject area taught by friendly staff who are passionate about language learning, and infectiously enthusiastic about culture.
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials (including language classes) and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.
- Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association.
In the 2023 to 2024 academic year, you can take French as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|French and Spanish||French and German||French and Portuguese|
|French and Italian||French and Russian Studies||French and Scandinavian Studies|
|Arabic and French||Chinese and French||Celtic and French|
|French and Linguistics||French and English Language||French and English Literature|
|French and History||French and Politics||French and Social Policy|
|French and Business||International Business with French*||Law and French*|
|French and Philosophy||French and Classics||French and History of Art|
* Please note that these degree combinations do not have the same structure as all the others, though they are still four-year degrees with a study abroad element.
Applications for 2023 entry are now closed. If you have applied for one of our degrees or are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2023, check out our applicant and offer holder website for French and Francophone Studies.
Visit the French and Francophone Studies applicant and offer holder website
Keen to get a head start for 2024?
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate French programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities.
Browse our programmes on the 2024 to 2025 Degree Finder
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on how to apply for undergraduate study
Skills and experience
Studying one or more languages to degree level demonstrates that you're a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.
Beyond the language skills you'll develop on our programmes, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Opportunities at home and away
Graduating with French, you’ll be near-fluent in a major language of international communication, one of the most widely spoken in the world. You’ll be well-placed to seek opportunities in the 29 countries where France is an official language (including parts of Europe, Africa and North America), and the many multinational companies and institutions for which it is a working language, including the European Commission.
Our graduates can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative - you do not have to be based in a French-speaking country to have a career in which the ability to understand and communicate in the language will make you stand out. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to career pathways in:
- Business and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
- Education, outreach, advocacy and training
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
- Research, development and venture acceleration
- Translating and interpreting
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can study a Masters by Research degree in French, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, Intermediality, or Translation Studies.
Edinburgh seemed the perfect place to do my degree as it had good connections with international universities and its reputation is first class. I distinctly remember being told in High School that languages would open more doors later down the line. Little did the organiser know that this would be of particular relevance now! My languages have allowed me to work in Italy, France and Belgium, setting me up for my current role, as - had I not gained experience in my previous jobs - I would not have the position I currently hold.
QS World Rankings by Subject 2023
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.
We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages (7) and Arts & Humanities (10).
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - European Languages and Cultures
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- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
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Other ways to learn French at Edinburgh
If you're not on one of our degree programmes, you can still learn French with us!
As an undergraduate student of most subjects at the University of Edinburgh, you can take French as an outside subject in one or both of Years 1 and 2 of your programme, depending on your timetable and prior knowledge (you'll need to know some French to begin with).
Find out more about outside subjects
French is also available to all students (undergraduate and postgraduate) as an Open Language Course and - through the Centre for Open Learning - as a Short Course. There are options for complete beginners and more advanced learners.
Find out more about class representatives and student representation (secured)