After a common and broadly based first and second year you will choose topics for specialisation in your final year.
In the first year of study, you will work on your language skills, to revise, reinforce and expand on existing skills and knowledge; also to provide the foundation for more complex applications and use of language. Further content-based modules provide a basic grounding in modern and contemporary French history, language and culture, covering a range of topics of interest for understanding France, the French-speaking world and the French language.
French Language Skills: Students follow an introduction to the production of structured texts in French; there is a general revision of basic French grammar; and in oral skills seminars, you will build your communicative competence through group discussions and individual presentations on topics relating to life in France. French History: you will learn about the principal events and processes which have shaped the course of modern French history and which continue to exert an influence on attitudes and debates in contemporary France.
French History I: Origins of Contemporary France: in this: This first history module will enable you to understand the ways in which historical traditions have influence political structures and debates in France today. All students will follow this module.
In addition, depending on your subject combination, you will study two of the following courses:
- French History II: From the 3rd Republic to the 5th - In this course you will learn about the very important period from 1870-1969, looking at political, social, cultural and intellectual developments through which France came its present regime.
- Introduction to French Culture: This foundation course will introduce you to a range of cultural expression in Contemporary France, looking at some extracts from 20th Century literary texts as well as films and songs, so that you understand key features of French culture and the way ideas are expressed.
- One module to be chosen from a specified range of elective choices, including modules on Franco-British relation, the French economy, French linguistics
Or you can choose to study a new language ab initio (German or Spanish) - This is a double module running throughout the year
Your core module for first year are (subject to change):
French Language Skills I & II: In this double module, students will work on both their receptive (listening, reading) and productive (speaking, writing) language skills through authentic documents related to aspects of the Francophone culture and society.
French History: France since the Revolution: The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the principal events and processes which have shaped the course of modern French history, and to demonstrate the ways in which historical traditions have influenced political structures and political debates in contemporary France.
Optional modules are:
Reading the French Press: This module is designed to introduce you to the French press from the outset of your university studies, and to encourage regular reading of both print-based and electronic media sources.
Introduction to French Culture*: This course aims to give students a basic knowledge of French culture, starting with an attempt at definition and focusing on contemporary literature and text analysis. Rather than attempt to give a very general introduction to French culture, the course will aim to provide students with the tools to analyse, discuss and enjoy aspects of contemporary culture.
Contemporary Media Debates: The module is composed of a series of seven weekly seminars, beginning in week 15, each of one hour. In the seminars, students will, collectively, present and discuss news stories from a range of publications, discussing the similarities and differences between contemporary news articles and the manner in which they are constructed and contextualised as news items
Introduction to French Culture**: This course aims to give students a basic knowledge of French culture, starting with an attempt at definition and focusing on contemporary literature and text analysis. Rather than attempt to give a very general introduction to French culture, the course will aim to provide students with the tools to analyse, discuss and enjoy aspects of contemporary culture.
* Part I of a double module-if you take any of these modules, you must take them in teaching period two as well.
** Pre-requisite: Completion of part I in teaching period I
Second Year: Applications
The second year course builds upon the solid foundations laid in the first year, and enables students to apply their skills and knowledge in preparation for their Year Abroad placement. Language skills courses enable the student to further improve their linguistic proficiency, and content-based modules follow on from the history modules studied in the first year, and provide in-depth knowledge about contemporary France. Again a free-choice elective allows for some specialisation in a particular field of interest.
Your core module for second year are (subject to change):
French Language Skills I & II: This course aims to develop your ability to use your French in a range of different ways, to produce relevant texts and offer a critical interpretation of information presented in different forms. At the same time, you will continue to expand your vocabulary and broaden your reading skills.. Language varieties currently studied include advertisements, opinion polls, and marketing reports.
French Language III: Communication Skills: Here you will focus on subjects of interest in contemporary France, and continue to develop fluency and accuracy in spoken French. You will learn to present a coherent argument, with appropriate use of language and style,particularly through debates.
France in the 5th Republic: This course, delivered in French, enables students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of French politics, and with key concepts used in the analysis of political institutions and political culture,this course aims to develop your ability to use your French in a range of different ways, to produce relevant texts and offer a critical interpretation of information presented in different forms. At the same time, you will continue to expand your vocabulary and broaden your reading skills. Language varieties currently studied include advertisements, opinion polls, and marketing reports.
History of the French Language: This module is designed to complement modules studied during years one and two of your programme, and in particular Linguistics modules such as Introduction to Language and Communication.
French Society: Conflict & Consensus: This module has two main functions. The first is to provide you with a general introduction to contemporary French society, The second function of this module is to introduce a number of ideas and concepts concerning the relationship between Republican values, French social traditions, and the practices and institutions which shape contemporary French society.
Third Year: Participation
The Year Abroad placement is an integrated part of the programme. This period is spent abroad in a francophone country. It enables the student to gain first-hand experience of France, raises levels of fluency, accuracy and confidence, and increases knowledge, awareness and understanding of the society and its language.
You can choose from three options:
- Work placement. Companies currently receiving our students include Air France, Alstom, British Airways, and Sanofi.
- University study. The student may choose to study in a University environment. Aston currently has ERASMUS exchange agreements with a number of universities in France and Belgium, including Angers, Ghent, Lille, Mulhouse, Orleans, Paris and Tours.
- Teaching assistantship. This is particular interesting if a student is interested in working with young people and is considering a career in teaching.
Combined Honours students are encouraged to seek university or work placements which will allow them to develop their expertise in their other subject. However, support and assessment for the Year Abroad is linked to the programme of French Studies.
Final Year: Analysis
Having lived and either worked or studied in France, final year students return to Aston to perfect their linguistic expertise and acquire further transferable skills. The final year encourages individual initiative and research, and offers the opportunity to explore a number of specialised topics, through both independent research projects and chosen electives.
Your core module for final year are (subject to change):
Language Skills I & II: Consolidation and extension of the linguistic skills acquired during the first three years of study. Language work is text-based, using texts from a range of contemporary sources. The language course aims to develop transferable written communication skills for effective use and transmission of information in both the foreign language and the mother-tongue, to reflect the demands of the different professional environments in which a graduate linguist might expect to work. Language work currently includes translation (as interlingual communication) and guided text production (as intralingual communication).
French Research Dissertation/Evaluation: A research project on an aspect of modern or contemporary France chosen by the student in conjunction with a designated supervisor. Small tutorial groups are held to develop oral presentational skills, complemented by individual consultation.
Optional modules are:
The French Media (Teaching Period one): Given the focus on the media and hence on a fast-moving, contemporary agenda, flexibility is built into the weekly schedule so that knowledge and skills are acquired systematically as we progress through the syllabus, whilst retaining the necessary degree of freedom as regards choice of topics to respond to current issues in context as and when they arise.
La France D'Outre-Mer (Teaching Period one):The aim of this course is to introduce students to the French overseas territories “Collectivités d’Outre-mer”(previously known as DOM-TOM) and to critically situate their role and status vis-à-vis France and within the international system.
Intellectuals and Politics in Post-war France (Teaching Period two)
Vichy France: Occupation, Collaboration, Liberation (Teaching Period two): The lecture programme provides essential historical and contextual background as a foundation for the learning outcomes listed above. Seminar work will include analysis of diverse materials, printed, audio-visual and other (historical studies, political writings and documentation, political speeches, propaganda tracts and posters, video documentaries and extracts).
Most teaching is conducted in French. Teaching takes place in the framework of:
- Lectures and Seminars
- Small Group Language Classes and Tutorials
- Outstanding Comprehensive IT Resources and integrated Computer Workshop Sessions
- Independent Study, through Aston's Library & Information Service as well as by using the School Intranet and the wealth of resources available on-line
About 66-85% (depending on the year of study) of formal time will be spent in lectures, seminars and tutorials, receiving information about the subject's constituent topics and help and guidance towards understanding of those topics. A strong emphasis is placed throughout the programme on practical activities in our state-of-the-art laboratories.
At Aston we have a high percentage of students doing an industrial work placement in their year abroad. Recent work placements include Air France, SanofiAventis, TNS, CNG (Translation company), Sofres, Total France, Spincontrol and World Vision in Senegal. If you would like to study at an exchange university abroad we currently have links with prestigious institutions in Paris, Brussels, Ghent, Orleans and the IEP in Lille. Recent students have also undertaken teaching assistantships in France, Quebec and French speaking Africa.
Aston’s Modern Language courses are ranked 3rd in the UK (out of over 90 universities) for job prospects (Guardian University Guide 2009) and joint 1st for % of graduates employed (www.unistats.co.uk). Our graduates enter careers in UK and international business/marketing, the languages and communications professions, education, European institutions and research.
Recent Aston graduate first destinations included:
- Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis Partnership and Selfridges
- Journalist for Tatler Magazine
- Smoby (French toy company) – Account Manager
- Michelin – Senior Administrator
- Public Relations Officers for a number of companies
- European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
- PGCE Secondary Teaching Qualification – French and German Teachers
- Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf (makers of NIVEA amongst other products)
- German/English/French Translators at companies such as Volkswagen and freelance work
- Bilingual Marketing Assistant at 3Com (an international internet and telecomms company)
- Trainee Accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Further study and PhD Research in the areas of International Politics, European Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Translation/Interpreting
As well as gaining near-native fluency in French, this course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills. Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished e-learning language centre.The year abroad will develop your initiative, confidence and independence, as well as improving your language skills. In your final year you complete an individual research dissertation which improves your independent research and report writing skills. All students are encouraged to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP).
The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated e-learning centre for the exclusive use of its students. The e-learning centre is supported by a dedicated team and has all of the standard software that you will need (e.g. Microsoft Office etc). Extensive use is also made of our Virtual Learning Environment to help support your studies. Our newly refurbished “Cadbury Room” contains social seating areas, study stations and meeting tables as well as networked printing facilities and wireless internet access.