Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

MA Honours in French and Portuguese

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: The University of Edinburgh
Final award: MA (Hons)
Programme title: French and Portuguese
UCAS code: RR15
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Languages and Related Studies
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA:

Head of School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Date of production/revision: May 2012

External summary

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 at Edinburgh 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 taught by leading specialists in their field.

There are high-quality resources to support French students in Edinburgh: in the most recent RAE, 55% of research in French Section was rated as 4* world-leading or 3* internationally excellent. 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. Edinburgh is home to the Institut Francais d’Ecosse which runs regular lectures, films, exhibitions and concerts related to French culture. You will also have the opportunity to join the successful French drama group Les Escogriffes, which has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  You will spend a year working or studying in France as part of your degree. You may attend a university, work as a language assistant in a school, or gain work experience independently. The French Section has numerous exchange programmes (through Erasmus) with prestigious universities and Grandes Ecoles in France and Belgium (Paris IV Sorbonne, Paris Dauphine, Institut d’Etudes Politiques Lyon, Rennes and Grenoble, Université Libre de Bruxelles, etc.), which provide high quality courses. 

Spanish and Portuguese are two of the most widely spoken languages in the world.Their fascinating literatures and cultures are diverse and vibrant and have influenced countries and cultures around the world.Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh will not only perfect your language skills, but will provide opportunities to explore the Hispanic culture and its geographical and historical diversity.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims to develop students’ engagement with the language, history, literature, culture and society of the country. Through intense training in the target language students will acquire near-native fluency. The programme offers society the resource of intellectually trained individuals capable of acting as conduits of knowledge and understanding between British and non-British cultures. By enhancing the linguistic, literary, and critical faculties of individual students, the programme prepares them to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important.

Students undertaking this programme will be exceptionally well placed to pursue post-graduate research. Graduates will also be very well placed to enter employment where linguistic skills are of special value, e.g. education, translating and interpreting, international business, the Civil Service, the non-governmental sector, the creative industries.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  1. The target languages (spoken and written).
  2. The target literatures past and present.
  3. The history and culture of the target country or countries.
  4. Political, social, economic issues related to the target country or countries.
  5. Linguistics issues related to the target language (its structure, functions, registers, etc)
  6. Key methods and concepts of literary, historical, linguistic and social analysis

Teaching and learning methods and strategies:

Acquisition of (1) through tutorials and regular, assessed coursework. Additional support is provided through the self-access facilities for Language Learning in the Language and Humanities Centre, the Languages Microlab, and the recommended materials on the Web. The Third year abroad provides total immersion in the target language and culture.

Acquisition of 2-5 is through a combination of lectures and tutorials or seminars including group discussions and individual or joint presentations.


Testing on the knowledge base is through a combination of assessed regular language exercises (1 and 5), class presentation and (2-6), unseen written examination (1-6), coursework essays and extended essays (1-6), oral examination (1) and dissertation (1-6).

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

graduates will be able to:

  • retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources and media, including those in French and Portuguese;
  • analyse and interpret information and texts in French and Portuguese and English;
  • reason critically and cogently, assessing and applying literary, historical, social and linguistic concepts and approaches to translation; as well as correct reproduction of the target language
  • identify and solve problems, especially in the field of  literature, culture, and politics

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Classes are given on literary, historical, social and linguistic concepts and on approaches to translation. Throughout their studies, students take classes and receive instruction in the target language. The Year abroad further promotes the active learning of the target language to a high level.

Comprehensive bibliographies are provided for each course as are the guidelines for the production of coursework essays, extended essays and dissertations.


All the listed skills are primarily assessed through the assessed coursework essays, extended essays and dissertations, skills are manifested in degree exams on the Literature, Culture and History of the target languages and country/countries concerned.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

graduates will be:

  • able to work independently and be self-reliant;
  • open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking;
  • intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest;
  • able to demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and creativity in thought;
  • able to distinguish relevant from irrelevant considerations in argument; and
  • able to assess and respond to the ideas of others, constructing cogent arguments through critical reasoning and the application of linguistic, literary, historical & social concepts.

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Intellectual skills are developed through the teaching and learning programme outlined above. Each course, whatever the format of the teaching, involves discussion of the key issues, practice in applying concepts both orally and in writing, analysis and interpretation of material, and individual feedback on work produced.


The variety of assessment methods employed all place great emphasis (as shown in their assessment criteria) on the learner’s ability to demonstrate skills through the production of cogent and coherent written and oral responses to problems and tasks set. Extended essays and dissertations produced in the Honours years provide an especially valuable vehicle for training of those skills.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

graduates will be able to:

  • process, structure and communicate ideas effectively and at an advanced/near-native level of proficiency, both orally and in written form in both French and Portuguese and English;
  • communicate clearly and accurately, constructing cogent arguments;
  • participate constructively and efficiently in group discussions, assessing and responding effectively to the ideas of others; and
  • communicate effectively in English to inform and educate others about French and Hispanic languages and cultures.

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

All courses require written work usually in the form of essays and regular feedback is given to the learner in order to develop their understanding and power of expression. Students are expected to contribute actively to content course tutorials/seminars, both as group members and discussion leaders.  Skills are developed in classes, seminars and tutorials, which rely on discussion and interaction, as well as presentation given by individuals and groups of students. 


Effective communication of ideas is an important criterion in assessing all areas of a learner’s work, and the regular feedback as well as the final mark reflects this. Additionally, penalties are levied for late submission of coursework essays and other assignments. Skills are assessed through regular coursework, essays, long essays and dissertations, which although supervised are nevertheless a manifestation of independent thought and work/research by the learner.  Skills are also assessed through the assembly of necessary information for essays etc. and their production on PCs.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

graduates will be able to:

  • work autonomously, setting their own goals, self-motivating and organising their own learning;
  • manage their time and priorities and working to both self-imposed and external deadlines;
  • collaborate effectively and productively with others in the process of learning and presenting conclusions, exercising leadership skills as appropriate;
  • confidently rely on their own intellectual capacities;
  • exercise sensitivity to ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings; and
  • confidently interacting with, and think about, cultural difference.


Skills are assessed through regular coursework, essays, long essays and dissertations, which although supervised are nevertheless a manifestation of independent thought and work/research by the learner and are further developed during the year abroad.  Also through the management of time to meet the various deadlines (all notified at the outset of each course) for submission of coursework.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

graduates will develop:

  • IT skills – the ability to use computers for word-processing, information storage and for retrieving information from the world wide web, including the use of foreign language symbols on the computer, or foreign-language computer keyboards; and
  • library skills – the ability to use libraries for the recovery of information, and related research skills, including the ability to discriminate between different sources of information, suggested readings, and so on.


Skills are assessed by class and home exercises, tests and degree examinations

Programme structure and features

Full details of the degree programme and structure can be found at: http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. 

Progression Requirements: Students are normally expected to have gained 120 credits from each year of study. 

Students who do not progress into Honours may graduate after three years of full-time study, or a longer prescribed period of part-time study, with a B.A. in Humanities and Social Science.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims.  The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In Year 1

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Self-Access to the Languages Microlab

In Year 2

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Self-Accessto  the Languages Microlab

In Year 3 (Study Abroad)

  • Lectures
  • Work Experience
  • Independent Study
  • Dissertation
  • Year Abroad Work

In Year 4

  • Seminars
  • Self-Access to the Languages Microlab

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 127730
Year 222780
Year 300100
Year 414860

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provided the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for assessment.

In Year 1

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays

In Year 2

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays

In Year 3

  • Extended Essays
  • Coursework
  • Dissertation

In Year 4

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays
  • Extended Essays
  • Oral Examination
  • Dissertation

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 1451045
Year 250545
Year 310000
Year 450050

Career opportunities

French and Portuguese graduates from the University of Edinburgh enjoy excellent career prospects.  The communication skills you develop will equip you for a career in business, public relations, banking, journalism, the Civil Service or the legal profession.  Language and analytical skills developed in analysing cultural and political documents can open careers in teaching and translating in the UK or abroad. Your skills will also be valued in worldwide business and administration.

Other items

All students are assigned a Personal Tutor on admission to the degree programme, who oversees the course of the student’s degree programme, offers advice on academic matters (including degree-progression) and should be the student’s first port of call for course-related worries or concerns

Student opinion is actively sought through participation in Staff-Student Liaison Committees, through the election of class- and tutorial-representatives, and by the wide circulation and review of detailed student questionnaires each semester. 

LLC have a student support office, where students can go for advice on degree transfers, course changes, authorised interruption of studies, confirmation letters and general support. Information can be found at: - http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/literatures-languages-cultures/current-students/undergraduate-support

Further information about Division of European Languages and Cultures can be found at http://www.delc.ed.ac.uk/