Guide to Studying French

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What is French?

  • French is an official language in 29 countries, including France, Canada, Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Belgium.
  • Spoken by more than 290 million on five continents, French is a truly global language which is also the official language of many international organisations (such as the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the World Trade Organization).

Why study French?

  • Studying French at University level will allow you to enhance your knowledge of French language and culture.
  • You will gain insights into aspects of life in French and Francophone society; you will also improve your comprehension of contemporary French idiom and your oral and written communication skills in terms of fluency and appropriate linguistic register.
  • At Durham University, for example, we offer content modules in the target language right from Year 1.
  • Departments of French throughout the country provide expertise in a wide range of subjects, including literature, cultural history, cinema, visual culture, translation and linguistics.
  • As part of your degree, you get to spend a year abroad (work placement, language assistantship or as a student at a French-speaking University) in order to refine your knowledge of the language and deepen your insights into the target culture.

Coursework, assessment and exams

  • The most likely types of assessment/exams for this subject are summative coursework, written and oral exams and final-year dissertation.

What degree can I get? 

  • BA in Modern Languages and Cultures
  • BA. in Modern European Languages and History (specialising in French as a single language)
  • BA in Economics with French
  • BA in Combined Honours

What qualifications do I need?

  • Always confirm the entry requirements for the particularly university/course you are interested in.
  • Requirements vary at each institution.

Use our Course Chooser to search through French courses.

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Quebec city street sign

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • There is an exciting range of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level.
  • For example, at Durham University, we offer MAs in Medieval & Early Modern Studies; in Translation Studies; in Culture and Difference.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Modern languages graduates embark on a wide range of rewarding careers as translators, interpreters, researchers and teachers in Higher Education, and follow careers in publishing, business, law, banking and other areas.

Written by Dr Catherine, Senior Lecturer and Head of French, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University