BA French Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

With a strong heritage dating back to 1896, French Studies at Manchester is the oldest in the UK.

It's also one of the largest, with over 120 students registering on its various programmes each year.

You will be taught by experienced academic staff of international distinction, including three winners of University and Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards, and a dedicated team of specialist language tutors.

Among our staff, over 70% are native speakers of French and we teach you in that language from Year 1.

Our innovative language-teaching programme, which follows an enquiry-based learning approach, is central to a curriculum that offers an extremely wide choice of course units.

These cover the Early Modern period to the present and fall into the four broad categories of history and politics, literature, popular and visual culture, and linguistics and translation. 

You will benefit from our rich Library resources - including precious manuscripts, a vast French literature collection, and contemporary digital media - and from our long-established partnership with the Alliance Française de Manchester, which hosts 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.

The course unit details listed below are those you may choose to study as part of this programme and are referred to as optional units. These are subject to change and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this programme. Although language units may show here as optional, they are a mandatory part of your modern languages degree and you will take the units relevant to your level of language in each year of study. It Is compulsory to study language at all levels of your modern languages degree.

Special features

Residence abroad

You can study abroad for up to a year to improve your communicative language skills in a native-speaker environment.

Collaborations and partnerships

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

  • 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. 

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

Starting from beginner (ab initio) or post-A-level French language abilities, Year 1 either delivers an intensive programme of basic French grammar and fluency or allows you to quickly revise on the fundamentals before progressing to advanced grammar in French writing, listening and speaking.

Other course units cover 350 years of French history and cultural production, enabling all students to locate key French and francophone events, people, ideas and artworks in their respective contexts.

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 Project FREN10140 20 Mandatory
Identity in Modern France FREN10150 20 Mandatory
French Cultural Studies FREN10070 20 Optional
French Language 1 FREN51011 20 Optional
French Language 2 FREN51022 20 Optional
French Language 3 FREN51030 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Year 2 languages study prepares you for the linguistic challenges of your year abroad, including dedicated sessions on writing CVs and cover letters for job applications in French.

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 sociolinguistics.

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

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
Art in France FREN20271 20 Optional
Temptations of the Tragic: Love and Death in French Literature FREN20682 20 Optional
Stardom in France FREN21771 20 Optional
French Language 4 FREN51040 20 Optional
French Language 5 FREN51050 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

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.

Language study is centred on essay writing, translation and oral work involving discussion of texts, debates and presentations.

Also available in this year are course units that cover topics closely related to the research interests of individual members of staff (such as exoticism and travel writing, popular music, cinema and 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.

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
Introduction to Interpreting: Context, Skills and Modes ELAN30241 20 Optional
History and Memory in Francophone Cinema FREN30832 20 Optional
Dissertation in Modern Languages and Cultures LALC30000 40 Optional


The University Language Centre is home to language resources, including a new interpreting suite, purpose-built recording rooms, and resources for more than 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 at facilities

Disability support

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