BA French and Italian / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course description

BA French and Italian provides a comprehensive grounding in French and Italian language, literature, culture, history and linguistics, enabling you to become proficient enough to live and work effectively in French and Italian-speaking environments.

You will also develop knowledge of the language and culture of Italy from the medieval period to the present day.


  • At least two thirds of our staff are native speakers, teaching you in French 'language' classes as well as most 'culture' classes.
  • You will experience between 3 and 6 hours of French grammar and conversation every week (at post A-Level or beginners' level), in order to reach near-native precision and fluency. This will run in parallel with optional course units on French and Francophone history, politics, literature, popular culture and/or linguistics, from the Early Modern period to the present.
  • You will benefit from our long-established partnership with the Alliance Fran ç aise de Manchester with cultural events throughout the year, such as film screenings, talks, plays, concerts, exhibitions and intensive language classes.
  • You will also benefit from our collaboration with the Institut de Touraine in the Loire Valley, which hosts Easter and Summer French language classes that are appropriate for ab initio students and finalists.
  • Our range and quality of courses are regularly cited for praise by external examiners and two colleagues have won University Teaching Excellence Awards.


  • The course units offered combine the study of history, politics, and the literary, linguistic and visual culture of the peninsula, and are taught by specialists in the fields.
  • We offer a linguistics pathway through the course for those interested in the history of the Italian language and its dialects.
  • Language courses, taught by native speakers at post A-level or beginners' level, involve comprehension, translation, grammar and oral work.
  • Our excellence in teaching and learning in Italian has been recognised internally and nationally: a colleague won a Teaching Excellence Award and one has secured national funding to develop use of digital resources in teaching by bringing our libraries' special collections into the age of the app.
  • You will benefit from extensive interaction with Italian cultural agencies in the North West.
  • You will also benefit from the world-class Italian holdings of the John Rylands Library, including one of the largest collections of early Italian printed books in the UK.

Special features

Residence abroad

You can study and/or work  for up to a year in a country or countries relevant to your chosen language(s) to improve your communicative language skills in a native-speaker environment.

Palaver Festival

Palaver Festival , a collaboration with the neighbouring Contact Theatre, offers the opportunity to explore links between language and performance across a range of genres including literature, theatre, dance and more.

Collaborations and partnerships

The University has links with language and cultural institutions across the city, including:

  • Instituto Cervantes - a centre for Spanish culture
  • HOME - international and contemporary art, theatre and film
  • Alliance Française - home of French language and culture.


Join The Francophone Society and benefit from French classes, discussion groups, cheese and wine nights, film screenings, themed socials, and a yearly trip to Paris.

The University is home to over 30 international and language-related  student societies  offering a breadth of cultural activities and experiences.

Teaching and learning

You'll learn through a mixture of formal lectures, seminars and tutorials, spending approximately 12 hours a week in formal study sessions.

We excel in using different forms of e-learning to enhance language acquisition, including podcasting.

For every hour of university study, you will be expected to complete a further 2-3 hours of independent study. You will also need to study during the holiday periods.

The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, revising for examinations or working in the University's Language Centre.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed in various ways, including:

  • written and oral examinations;
  • presentations;
  • coursework (which may include library research, linguistic fieldwork and data collection, or web-based research);
  • in your final year, a dissertation based on a research topic of your choice.

Assessment methods vary from course unit to course unit - see individual course unit listings for more information.

Course content for year 1

You will study 60 credits from each discipline.

The first year equips you with a range of important skills such as linguistic expertise, the ability to read and analyse material, skills in presentation, group work and independent language learning.

Language instruction is divided between ab initio and post-A-level groups.


Course units are broad-based at this level and cover 350 years of key French events, people, ideas and cultural production.


'Ab initio' students have five contact hours per week with their nominated mother-tongue teacher as part of a course specifically designed to build confidence in comprehension, writing, speaking and listening skills. Post-A-level students have 3 hours consolidating and building competency on specific language points.

Culture units cover topics from the filmic and literary to the historic and linguistic, all of which reflect academic staff research interests.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
French Cultural Studies FREN10070 20 Mandatory
Identity in Modern France FREN10150 20 Mandatory
French Language 1 FREN51011 20 Mandatory
French Language 2 FREN51022 20 Mandatory
French Language 3 FREN51030 20 Mandatory
Italian Cultural Studies ITAL10300 20 Mandatory
Reading Italy: Medieval to Modern ITAL10500 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 1 ITAL51011 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 2 ITAL51022 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 3 ITAL51030 20 Mandatory
Reading Italy: Medieval to Modern ITAL10500 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 11 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

You may choose to study up to two-thirds of your credits from either discipline, or maintain equal weighting.

This year's core language course units develop those of the previous year and prepare you for the linguistic challenges of your year abroad, including dedicated sessions on writing CVs and cover letters for job applications in your chosen language(s).


The other course units available in your second year are options broadly falling under four categories: literature, history and politics, popular culture, and linguistics and translation. Topics covered include race and colonisation, cinema, literary representations of the 'tragic', and socio-linguistics

All include a research component that encourages you to develop your skills of analysis and information-gathering, working independently or in a group.


The language component of the course includes three contact hours per week in addition to working on set assignments and undertaking private study.

Course unit options range from medieval and Renaissance culture and literature, including Dante, Boccaccio, and women writers, to Italian Fascism, the Economic Boom (1960s), and the Years of Lead (1970s) studied through film. We also offer units on sociolinguistics and Italian dialects.

Most culture units involve three contact hours per week and are augmented by materials and content placed in the units' Blackboard virtual learning environment.

The units are mostly assessed using a variety of forms from coursework to essays, commentaries and book reviews to class presentations and blog posts.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
French Language 4 FREN51040 20 Mandatory
French Language 5 FREN51050 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 4 ITAL51040 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 5 ITAL51050 20 Mandatory
French Cinema to 1980 FREN20142 20 Optional
Race and Empire in the French-speaking World FREN20561 20 Optional
Temptations of the Tragic: Love and Death in French Literature FREN20682 20 Optional
Aesthetics and Politics of Italian Fascism ITAL20501 20 Optional
Renaissance Florence: Culture, History and Art ITAL20622 20 Optional
Pragmatics: Meaning, Context, and Interaction LELA20291 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Your third year of study is  spent abroad  under approved conditions.

Course content for year 4

You may choose to study up to two-thirds of your credits from either discipline, or maintain equal weighting.

On your return to Manchester you will continue with your core language course unit and choose additional units from a wide range of even more specialised options, building effectively on Year 2 study.


In your final year, language study is centred on sophisticated essay writing, translation and oral debate.

Also available in this year are course units that cover topics closely related to the research interests of individual members of staff (eg exoticism and travel writing; popular music; France and Algeria; Animal Studies).

As part of your final-year work, you can write a dissertation on a theme of your choice related to one of your course units.


In your final year, you build on the linguistic authenticity acquired abroad, and further your knowledge of Italy's society and culture with units delivered in the target language and focusing (for instance) on visual and literary expression in post-war Neo-Realism.

You will also be able to undertake a research-orientated dissertation in Italian (often using the primary sources held in the Rylands Library, which has outstanding Italian holdings), and have the opportunity to participate in the Italian department's mentoring and outreach work.

The language component of the course includes three contact hours per week in addition to working on set assignments and undertaking private study.

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
French Language 6 FREN51060 20 Mandatory
Italian Language 6 ITAL51060 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Interpreting: Context, Skills and Modes ELAN30242 20 Optional
Dissertation in French Studies FREN30000 40 Optional
Protest Music in France FREN30002 20 Optional
Exoticism & Orientalism in C19th France: French Romantics and Local Colour FREN30871 20 Optional
Dissertation in Italian Studies ITAL30000 40 Optional
Political and Cultural History of Italy ITAL30342 20 Optional
Introduction to the History of the Book ITAL30431 20 Optional
Topics in Romance Linguistics ITAL32002 20 Optional

Scholarships and bursaries

Residence Abroad Support We offer dedicated financial support packages of up to £2,000 for residence abroad students, based on household income. You will be automatically assessed for this, based on your Student Finance finance assessment - you just need to make sure you apply for a financial assessment in the academic year in which your residence abroad will take place.

RWS Brode Scholarship You may be eligible for this scholarship if you fulfil the following conditions:

  • Your qualifications were achieved at a state-funded school in the UK
  • your total household income does not exceed £60K (as verified by the Student Loan Company)
  • You achieve high marks in your A-levels (or equivalent qualifications), usually AAB or above
  • You apply to (and remain on) either a single honours Language programme, or a dual-language programme

Awards will be made according to a sliding scale, benefitting those who have the achieved the highest marks, whilst being from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.  Again, you will be automatically assessed for this, after you have registered on your degree programme. You simply need to make sure you allow the University access to your records when applying for your Student Loan (we cannot otherwise assess your eligibility).


The  University Language Centre  is home to language resources, including a new interpreting suite, purpose-built recording rooms and resources for over 70 languages.

The Centre also offers multilingual word processing, language learning software, off-air recording and AV duplication, multilingual terrestrial and satellite TV, and extensive support and advice for learners.

Learn more on the  Facilities  page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: