French and Francophone Studies

What and how you'll study

Degree combinations, teaching methods, and a year-by-year guide to your learning.

Degree combinations

We are unique among Modern Languages departments in Scotland in offering both single and joint honours language degree programmes which all take four years to complete, including a year abroad.

If you’d like to take French as part of a joint honours degree, we have a very wide range of other subjects for you to choose from. You can currently study any of the following programmes...

French (single honours) French and Spanish French and Italian French and German
French and Portuguese French and Russian Studies French and Scandinavian Studies Celtic and French
Chinese and French Arabic and French French and English Literature French and English Language
French and Linguistics French and Business Law and French* International Business with French*
French and History of Art French and Philosophy French and Politics French and Social Policy
French and Classics French and History    

One of the most attractive characteristics of the MA degree at the University of Edinburgh is its flexibility, not only in terms of degree combinations, but because - in the first two (pre-honours) years - you’ll likely get to choose other outside subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines. This may enable you to change the focus of your degree, if you discover that your outside subject is one that you want to take on into the final two (honours) years.

* Please note that these degree combinations do not have the same structure as all the others, though they are both still four-year degrees with a study abroad element. Also, Law and French is an LLB (Bachelor of Laws), not an MA Hons, degree.

Teaching and assessment

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.

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and computer-assisted learning in lecture theatres, classrooms, our in-house Screening Room and computing labs. In Year Four (your final year), most courses are delivered exclusively in French, giving you the opportunity to engage in genuine intellectual debate, in French, with leading specialists in a broad range of research areas.

You’ll be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework, and there are lots of support systems to help you with your learning, from your Personal Tutor to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC. Our School has its own Study Resource Centre, 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.

The Students’ Association is also a great source of advice on Peer Learning and Support, and its Tandem Language Exchange Programme was recently voted the inaugural winner of the Student Collaboration Award.


You’ll study French for four years, taking courses worth 120 credits each year.

Years one and two

The first two years will provide a solid foundation in the French language (written and spoken), so that by the end of second year, you are ready for your year abroad, and able to study successfully at universities in France, Belgium, or Switzerland.

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 film and political history, as well as some of the great classics of French literature from the middle ages to the 21st century. We will introduce you to some fascinating writers and film-makers whose work has been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics. In second year, you will also have the chance to study European cinema and theatre.

You’ll gain the rest of your credits from compulsory courses for your partner subject, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses. Outside courses are chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh (see Degree Programme Tables for details), and single honours students take more of them.

Year three

You’ll spend your third year abroad, either in full, or in part, in France or a French-speaking country, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Francophone culture.

You will spend a minimum of 30 weeks abroad. If French is the only language you are studying, these 30 weeks will be spent in France or another Francophone country. If you’re doing a joint degree with another language, you’ll divide your 30 weeks between your two languages, spending at least eight weeks in a country relevant to each language.

The University has Erasmus+ exchange places in a huge variety of different universities, including in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Arrangements with the Grandes Ecoles - including Politics Institutes (IEP), business schools and, in Paris, ISIT (specialising in translation and interpreting) - mean that joint honours students are normally able to undertake studies in their partner subject while in France.

Instead of studying, you might opt to do a teaching assistant placement (organised by the British Council), or other work placement, instead. In any case, 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 language and culture.

During your year abroad, we will maintain contact with you, to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your language learning, and to prepare you for your return to Edinburgh. You will be given a distance-learning language course that leads in to the language course you will take in fourth year.

Year four

In your final year, you’ll refine your skills with specialist language tuition in translation, writing skills and oral communication.

You’ll also take option courses taught by research-active experts. There’s a wide range to choose from, from French political thought to medieval or 17th-century theatre, French verse, the French New Wave, and France’s relations with its former colonies. If you're doing a joint degree, you'll take option courses for your partner subject too.

You’ll be expected to engage with research by writing either a dissertation (approximately 6,000 words), or long essay (approximately 3,000 words) in your target language, depending on your degree combination. This is your chance to focus on a subject that’s of particular interest to you. Your project will involve independent research, and you’ll be supported by one or more members of our academic staff.

You can look in-depth at current courses on our Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study.

Find out more and apply

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. There’s lots of information about the application process on the University of Edinburgh website, including detailed entrance requirements and fees.

Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on how to apply for undergraduate study

Related links

Read our feature about Support for Success in LLC 

Read our interview with Year Abroad student, Bethan Morrish