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Study French, why & how to study

A degree in French allows you to explore a wide range of French topics, including literature, cultural history, cinema, translation and linguistics.

Discover undergraduate Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London – ranked 3rd in London for Linguistics (Complete University Guide Subject League Table 2021).

CONTENTS

  1. What’s French?

  2. What French degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a French degree?

  4. What topics does a French degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study French?

  7. What do French graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a French graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to French

  11. Have any questions?

What’s French?

French is an official language in more than 25 countries, including France, Canada, Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti and Belgium.

Spoken by nearly 300 million people over five continents, French is a truly global language. It's also an official language of many international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the World Trade Organisation.

What French degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in French include:

  • Classics and French BA
  • Economics with French BA
  • French and Arabic BA
  • Modern European Languages and History BA (specialising in French as a single language)
  • Modern Languages and Cultures BA

Options may include an integrated foundation year or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a French degree?

Entry requirements for a French degree at a university range from 96–165 UCAS points. This could include the qualifications below.

  • A Levels: AAA–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–DMM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–BB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 39–28
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: French at A Level (or equivalent)

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Another modern language, English language or literature, history or politics
  • General studies at A Level may be excluded from offers

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Shadowing language teachers, TESOL tutors or experience at a language school
  • Exchanges to France or another French-speaking country
  • Practising speaking or listening to French, try Alliance Française or Instituts Français
  • Watching French language videos or films, reading French newspapers such as Le Monde, or listening to podcasts
  • If eligible, attending a summer school in modern languages – see the Sutton Trust or UNIQ

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science, if taken at A Level
  • Interview and entry assessments may be required by some universities

What topics does a French degree cover?

Language course modules focus primarily on learning the language itself. Single honours in French or French Studies may include modules on history and culture, such as:

  • French cinema: history, practice, analysis
  • French thought: from the renaissance to postmodernity
  • Identity in modern France
  • Imagining France: an introduction to French studies
  • Introduction to French and francophone studies
  • Modern French poetry
  • The French novel of disillusionment
  • The twentieth century: key themes in comparative European history
  • Translation from French
  • Translation into French

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways, depending on the module:

  • Coursework
  • Written and oral exams
  • A dissertation is usually a final year option

Why study French?

As part of your degree, you get to spend a year abroad (through a work placement, language assistantship or studying at a French-speaking university), where you'll refine your knowledge of the language and deepen your understanding of the culture.

Career-specific skills:

  • Advanced language skills, including translation and the ability to read and interpret complex texts
  • In-depth understanding of French politics, history and culture
  • Experience of living and studying abroad

Transferable skills:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Flexibility
  • Intercultural awareness
  • Organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Team working
  • Time management

Professional accreditation:

  • Subjects offered in combination with French may be accredited by related professional bodies

What do French graduates earn?

French graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £18,000–£25,000.

French is one of the official languages of the UN. Entry-level professional roles start at $37,000–$80,000 (around £27,000–£58,000). A director-level role as the chief of French translation services could merit a salary of $95,000 (£69,000). In the UK, an in-house translator could earn £30,000 working for a specialist technical translation company.

However, your talents could lead you elsewhere, such as into publishing. As a magazine editor, your salary could range from £25,000–£50,000.

What jobs can you get as a French graduate?

Modern languages graduates can embark on a range of careers making direct use of their linguistic abilities – or use their skills in areas from publishing to business, law or banking.

  • Corporate banker
  • Interpreter
  • Lecturer
  • Magazine editor
  • Marketing executive
  • PR officer
  • Researcher
  • Teacher
  • Translator

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Postgraduate study will require a first degree in French or a related subject. Graduates with a French degree will require a PGCE if they wish to become a teacher. Examples of postgraduate courses include:

  • French and Comparative Literature PhD
  • French MPhil/PhD
  • French Studies MPhil/PhD
  • Interpreting and Translating – French and Russian MA
  • Language, Culture and History: French and Francophone Studies MA

Similar subjects to French

If you’re interested in other cultures or languages, you could also consider these subjects:

Have any questions?

If you have questions about studying French, you can email our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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