Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

MA French and Philosophy

UCAS code: RV15

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA French and Philosophy

French is a major world language, spoken in many parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Together with the art and culture of the French-speaking (francophone) world, France's philosophical ideas have played a central part in shaping our modern civilisation.

Studying French and Philosophy, which has been at the core of Western intellectual life for at least 2,500 years, helps us understand the contemporary world, as well as shedding light on the past.

French

Over the course of our four-year programme, you will have the opportunity to acquire near-native fluency in French. You will also gain a broad cultural education and international perspective, something valued by employers worldwide.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of the francophone world through the study of:

  • literature and cinema
  • political history and social movements
  • philosophical ideas

Our courses cover material from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century and include specialist options taught by leading experts in key disciplines, including post-colonial studies and gender studies.

Philosophy

Studying philosophy allows you to think about some of the great philosophical questions in a clear, disciplined and systematic manner.

Studying philosophy will:

  • introduce you to the thinking of some of the great philosophers of the past and present
  • illuminate the connections between diverse areas of human experience
  • make you more aware of the assumptions that form the basis of your beliefs

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading historic, festival and capital city, Edinburgh is the ideal place to study a modern language in its cultural context.

Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583 and French since 1894, making it one of the first European languages to be offered at Edinburgh.

Studying over four years enables you to choose courses, including from other disciplines, that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs. You can, for example, opt to take pre-honours classes in politics or economics as part of your programme.

We are 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.

Year 1

French

If you have a limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A, an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture.

If you have studied French beyond National 5 (SQA) or GCSE level, you will typically take French 1B. As well as developing your written and spoken language skills, this course focuses on modern French literature, culture and civilisation.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of one of the world's great civilisations by focusing on social and political events from the Second World War to the 21st century.

These include:

  • resistance and collaboration
  • the Fifth Republic
  • May 1968
  • feminism
  • colonisation and decolonisation

Philosophy

In years 1 and 2, you will take a range of courses that introduce you to a variety of the main areas of Philosophy. This will include courses in some or all of the following areas:

  • Epistemology
  • Ethics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Logic
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Science

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with an option course chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

French

You will further develop your language skills in French, including in writing, translation and grammar. You will gain confidence talking in French on a variety of topics relating to contemporary France and the francophone world.

You will take a course in French and francophone literature and culture. This course will introduce you to the most important authors at key points in French literary and cultural history, from the 12th to the 21st century.

You will study work by Montaigne, Racine, Molière and Baudelaire alongside texts that have been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics.

Philosophy

You will continue to take courses in some or all of the main areas of Philosophy listed above.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will complete your studies with at least one option course.

Courses to choose from include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical options include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

You can also opt to take a course in the Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France.

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in France or in a country where French is spoken, turning classroom learning into living engagement with francophone culture.

You will typically spend a minimum of 30 weeks abroad. We currently offer exchange places in a variety of different universities, including in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

Alternatively, you may be eligible to work, for example as a Language Assistant with an organisation such as the British Council.

Whether studying or working, our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

You will complete prescribed work in both Philosophy and French. For example, for French you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your Year 4 French courses.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in spoken and written French.

In addition to these core skills courses, you will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses in both French and Philosophy.

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a dissertation or long essay.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2022/23)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include over 118,500 books and 25,500 journals in French, and a particularly rich collection of French Language papers donated by eminent scholars.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

Among these treasures are correspondence and papers relating to the French Revolution and French politics, charters and indentures in old French, and French treatises, prayer books and other medieval literary works.

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583. Our collections and library holdings in the subject are extensive.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

Established in 1995, our Centre de recherches francophones belges promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature, and hosts a range of activities for students and the public. Since 2018, the Centre has been partnering with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) to bring francophone Belgian culture to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We also play a key role in the Diaspolinks network, with brings together researchers with a shared interest in the growing field of Diaspora Studies, especially anglophone and francophone diasporas. The international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the context of British, French and Canadian immigration policies.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies, clubs and social enterprises. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

Founded in 1871, Edinburgh PhilSoc is the University's oldest continuously running student society and is the largest and most active philosophy society in the UK.

The French theatre society - Les Escogriffes - typically stages a play in French each year, with opportunities to direct, act, produce and promote.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in French and eight other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has one of the best French collections in the UK.

There is plenty to see and do throughout the year, including a rich programme of cultural events at the nearby Institut français d'Ecosse.

As well as the city's main summer festivals, the Edinburgh French Film Festival and Africa in Motion bring the latest and best francophone cinema to Edinburgh each winter. There are also various food festivals.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a French-speaking country.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in francophone culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

As well as these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you will also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

In Years 1 and 2, Philosophy courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years. For example, in Years 3 and 4, Philosophy courses are taught through a mixture of seminars and tutorials.

Support

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 (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for French, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

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

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

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.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Combining a language with philosophy to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

On this joint honours programme, you will develop linguistic and critical skills. You will also gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies throughout history.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Humanities programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance 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

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another global language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that French is a major language of international communication, one of the most widely spoken in the world, particularly in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

As one of our graduates, you will be well-placed to seek opportunities in the 29 countries where French is an official language, and the many multinational companies and institutions for which it is a working language, including the European Commission.

Further study

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, we typically offer:

  • Masters by Research degrees in French and Philosophy
  • Taught MScs in Philosophy, including online programmes
  • Interdisciplinary MSc programmes in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and Translation Studies

Each of these programmes is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: a language other than English at B. National 5s: French at B and English at C.
  • A Levels: a language other than English at B. GCSEs: French at B or 6 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: a language other than English at 5. SL: French at 5 and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA French and Philosophy

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding