BSc Sociology and French

Why Choose this course?

  • 2nd (84%) for Graduate Level Destinations six months after graduation, Guardian, 2014 
  • 92% of Sociology students at Aston are satisfied with the quality of their course (National Student Survey, 2012)
  • French at Aston is ranked 11th in the UK for Employability in the Complete University Guide 2015.
  • This subject line at Aston is ranked Top 15 in the UK for student satisfaction in the Guardian University Guide 2015.
  • Contemporary and applied focus, with a high level of teaching delivered in French
  • Sociology at Aston is currently ranked Top 15 in the UK for Employability in the 2015 Complete University Guide. 

4 years full-time with integrated year abroad

UCAS Code: LR41

Typical Offers
A Levels: ABB - BBB from 3 A-levels, including French Grade B.  General Studies accepted. 

If your predicted grades are close to those stated in Aston's typical offers and if you are interested in Aston University and the courses we offer we encourage you to apply to us as one of your 5 UCAS choices. In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg AS grades, GCSEs), your school/college reference and the commitment and motivation you demonstrate for your chosen course via the personal statement. Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk.

View our Admissions Policy. 

IB: 32-33 points in the IB diploma including TOK/Bonus points. Standard level Maths and English 5 required and 6 in Higher Level French.
Access: Pass Access to HE Diploma with Merit in each module.  Humanities or Social Sciences Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis.  A-level grade B in French or equivalent.
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD .   A-level grade B in French or equivalent.  Mix of Diploma/ Subsidiary Diploma/A-levels acceptable.

We accept a wide range of UK, EU and International qualifications: please contact us for further advice.

Specific subject requirements:
GCSE English Language and Maths Grade C.

Tuition fees 2014/15: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Our French studies course is designed to develop your linguistic skills to near-native proficiency and fluency. We stress the development of your practical command of French, emphasising language as a means of communication and mutual understanding. Our programme is also designed to develop your understanding of French culture and society – its traditions, its complexities, its underlying ideas – and to develop your critical, analytical and collaborative skills. Language classes are supplemented by a series of thematic modules, also taught in French, which focus on contemporary French society, and particularly on French politics, history, sociolinguistics, media, film and literature. You will be taught by research experts with international reputations in their fields, all in a lively, friendly, experienced and enthusiastic department.

The Sociology programme at Aston is designed to develop your sociological analysis and research skills, help you develop informed understanding of the major debates shaping today’s society, and cultivate a wider ‘sociological imagination’ of the contemporary world. The course deals with social theory, research methods and ‘substantive’ modules equally in each year, revisiting certain core themes and skills at higher levels of analysis at various points in the programme. You will complete introductory and intermediate modules in research methods in preparation for designing your own independent research project in the Final Year. You will also establish foundations in sociological approaches to gender, ‘race’, class and sexuality. This will feed into higher level courses that deal with more complex issues including the relationship between science and ‘race’, reproductive politics, environmental justice and media power.

The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change. 

Click on the module titles to find out more.

Year 1

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French

Module Content:

  • Revision of French grammar;
  • Practice of the following text types: résumé, dissertation.
  • Reading comprehension;
  • Aural comprehension.

Method of Learning and Teaching: Textual and Grammatical Skills classes will consist of lectures, discussions of reading and personal research, interactive workshops and exercises in class as well as in the computer lab.

Assessment method: Exam (90%), oral presentation (10%).

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module introduces students to translation as a professional activity. They will be familiarised with key theoretical concepts of translation and their application in practice, so as to develop skills in translating. They will learn to produce translations into English that are appropriate for their specified purpose and readers, and learn to explain their own translation decisions.

Assessment method: group work (20%), coursework (40%) and examination (40%).

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French

Module content: 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.

In teaching period one, it will focus mainly on 2 texts, L’Etranger by Albert Camus and La Place by Annie Ernaux. These texts will be complemented by a number of extracts from 20th century novels. The focus of group activities during the term will be text analysis and discussion, with a particular emphasis on the themes of alienation and protest or contestation. The course will provide students with the tools required for text analysis, not only of literary texts but also of texts in general.

Other cultural aspects will be studied, in particular the cinema of ‘La Nouvelle Vague’. Students will be given the tools to analyse cinematographic production, and will be expected to view at least 5 films from the period studied.

Teaching period two will be structured around student led sessions, in small groups. These will meet on a rota basis, every 3 weeks. The groups will be expected to concentrate on one aspect of culture, either literature or cinema. 

Method of Learning and Teaching: There will be a weekly lecture in French followed by an hour of group work, discussion and presentations in French in Term 1. Discussion and presentations will be led by students, often in groups of 2 or 3, on topics and texts distributed the week before to give students maximum time to prepare and to read. In teaching period two, there will be student led structured seminars, in 3 groups, each presenting a chosen aspect of French culture in turn. (Each group will therefore meet once in 3 weeks).

Assessment method: Group presentation (20%), exam (30%) and essay (50%).

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module will introduce the major sociological traditions, focusing on the works of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel. Special focus will be given to the role of structure and agency, of economic and cultural factors, and of methodology.

Method of learning and teaching: The seminars develop discussions and debates on matters raised in lectures informed by reading specified. Thus prepared students will have the opportunity to discuss critically theories and themes arising from the texts and relate them to contemporary issues.

Assessment method: 2 hour closed book examination (100%).

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This module seeks to introduce students to sociological thinking around two key and overlapping areas; ‘social identities’ and ‘social inequalities’. During the first term, the emphasis will lie on learning how to develop critical analytical skills and introducing concepts of social class, ‘race’ nation. During the second term, the module will focus more on gender and sexuality. The aim with all of these sets of identities is to establish the ways in which they are constructed, and the maps of social inequalities on which they can be located.

Method of learning and teaching: The sessions will be divided into 2 parts. The first will cover the core course material, delivered in a standard lecture format. The second will vary from week to week, but will include skills development, case study material and group debates.

Assessment method: Class test In term one (10%); Assessed essay in term two (40%); 2-hour exam in summer exam period (50 per cent each).

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This module introduces students to a variety of methodological approaches to social science research, and develops students’ research skills by giving them small tasks relating to these approaches. In the first term, these tasks encourage students to evaluate their own interests, ideas about research and how you actually carry it out. In the second term, they move from qualitative to quantitative methods, learning the basics of SPSS (a popular software package designed specifically for social scientists) and using an actual live database (the National Child Development Study) to do a project. This ‘Mixed Methods’ project requires the students to combine the qualitative skills they learned and developed in the first half of the module, with the statistical ones they learned at the beginning of the second term in order to analyse the database. 

Assessment method: Portfolio in Teaching Period 1 (50%); Mixed methods project in Teaching Period 2 (50 per cent).

Year 2

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French

Module content: Along with a variety of language exercises, the module will focus on your textual comprehension skills and on the analysis of an advertising report (for Joint, Single, and Combined Honours French programmes) or a marketing report (for IBML) in the first TP, and on textual production in the second TP. Here, we concentrate on the production of a report based on a portfolio of press documents relating to specific issues in contemporary French society.

Method of learning and teaching: Classes of two hours in French (lectures, seminars, workshops, group work and presentations) are organised weekly. You will be asked to prepare material for the following session and to submit written analyses for regular feedback. Whilst oral proficiency is not explicitly tested in this module, you are required to participate actively in-group discussion, expressing and justifying your views. Translation exercises are used as a method to further the learning experience.

Assessment method: Exam (80%), grammar test (20%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French

Module content: A number of assessed and practice exercises will structure the course. They will include:

  • Exercises in receptive language skills developed through listening and reading exercises. This will entail synthesising audio-visual or written material, reporting back orally on written or audio-visual material.

  • Exercises in productive language skills (speaking) developed through individual presentation of press reviews, group presentation based on a video project and debates, as well as role-plays.

Method of learning and teaching: A one-hour weekly class in French. The classes will be structured around the practice of the assessed exercises, which will involve work as a whole class (debates and their preparation; comprehension exercise), in small groups (group project and presentation) or individual contributions (press reviews). Students will be expected to critically evaluate each other’s work, and to give oral feedback to each other. They will be expected to prepare for each class, either by gathering material and acquiring information on a topic (discussion and debate) or by preparing a structured presentation (press review).

Assessment method: class exercises (100%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French.

Module content: This module aims at furthering students’ understanding of the origins, evolution and development of French in its social context. It shows how extra-linguistic factors have an impact on the dynamics of variation and change. Lessons are a mixture of lecture, discussion of readings and in-class activities.

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures and interactive seminars (discussions, reading and analysis), consultations, as well as directed work.

Assessment method:
Essay (80%), class work (20%).


Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French

Module content: This module examines social conflicts and issues that have been critical in the making of contemporary France. It considers how such conflicts and issues have changed with the evolution of French society, from those that defined France in the post-war years (economic modernisation, demographic change, new employment patterns, the ‘rural exodus’ etc) to those that define France today (national identity, immigration, religion, the banlieues, law and order, unemployment, gender etc). The module looks closely at a number of fault lines and fractures in French society and seeks to assess how social ‘conflict’ and ‘consensus’ are negotiated in France today.

Method of learning and teaching: Each two-hour session comprises both lectures in French and seminar/group activities also in French. The lecture programme provides the necessary background that underpins the learning outcomes listed above. Discussion and activities in the seminar hour permit the development of key themes and issues, and provide the opportunity for addressing related questions.  

Assessment method: Exam (100%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French

Module content: 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 knowledge forms the conceptual, methodological and analytical basis for many of the politics-related issues students will treat throughout their programmes.

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures: weeks 1-5, 7-10, Seminars: Group Work / Discussions / Presentations: Weeks 2-5, 7-11.

Students are expected to familiarise themselves quickly with the general literature, and then go on to more specialised reading in preparation for seminars and the exam. Week 6 is reserved for Guided Study and Consultation, and in week 11, the 2-hour seminar will help students reflect on the course content and prepare for the exam. 

Assessment method: Exam (100%).

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This module offers an introduction to key concepts and debates in contemporary social theory, helping students to build a theoretical ‘toolbox’ and an understanding of how theory can be both applied and created. The first half of the course paints a broad picture of the relationship between intellectual and social change during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The second half focuses thematically on ‘big questions’, including problems of global capitalism; post-modern notions of identity, emotion and ‘the body’; and the relationships between culture, economy and social change.

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures will introduce new authors and concepts, place them in historical context and illustrate how they can be used to analyse contemporary social problems. Lectures hence offer a general framework for discussions and independent study. By reading and writing independently, students will work to understand complex ideas. They will also develop skills of thinking more critically about how the material they learn is connected to other ideas and to their own beliefs and experiences. Class discussion provides space for students to explore their reading and reflections in more depth, raise questions, offer critiques and apply concepts to concrete examples.

Assessment method: Essay of 2000 words (50%), exam (50%).

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This module equips student with the skills they need to carry out qualitative research. Those skills are also necessary to interpret effectively research done by other scholars. Teaching combines theory and practical workshops, culminating in a group research project. 

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures will present theoretical and methodological aspects of the module and earth these in practical research. Seminars will allow students to present and discuss key issues in the research process.  

Assessment method: Coursework (50%), exam (50%).

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module seeks to enable students to acquire a competent understanding of the ways in which different social inequalities intersect with ‘race’, and the complexity of social inequalities. In doing so, they will be able to conceptualise the social (i.e. dynamic) rather than natural character of ‘race’ using specialist literature, and demonstrate a critical understanding of the key debates around racism. The concepts explored in this module include; ‘race’, racism(s), racialisation, and ‘intersectionality’. The substantive areas through which these are then developed are migration into the UK from 1948 to the present; the impact of the European Union on British migration policy; the politics of immigration in Britain; and responses to Asylum-seeking in the Contemporary UK.

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures and seminars. Materials include journal articles, reports, film, YouTube, music.

Assessment method: Essay (2,000 words) (100%).

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module explores competing feminist theories through focusing on topics within the sociology of the body. It uses empirical studies to explain and explore theoretical issues and assist the understanding of a number of key feminist theorists. The empirical studies will also introduce sociological understanding on a range of social and political issues including the aging society and the growth of cosmetic surgery. It will also explore the social construction of bodily issues such as love and sexuality.

Method of learning and teaching: This module will be taught via prescribed reading and weekly classes. Students need to attend all classes, but the reading is the central element for student learning. The classes will have an element of lectures which to introduce concepts and theories and place the prescribed reading in context. They will also allow students to explore the reading in depth and develop their critical thinking around the issues through discussion. 

Assessment method: essay (30%), exam (70%).

Year 3 - Year Abroad

Final Year

Number of credits: 20

Module content: Building on the year abroad, the module is designed to further improve students’ productive language skills. We focus on a range of current issues and controversies in French politics and society, and classes encourage development of increasingly sophisticated written and oral skills and increased fluency, accuracy and comprehension. These activities are underpinned by ongoing grammar learning.

Method of learning and teaching: The module will comprise one two-hour seminar, taught by the module tutor.

Each two-hour seminar will involve a range of activities using written textual material from a range of sources, using French as the medium of communication. Activities will include practical work with regular feedback on written practice work, pairs and group work. Much research, preparation and analysis will take place independently, through guided practice.

Each 2-hour seminar will also incorporate oral/aural skills, giving students the opportunity to further develop their productive oral and their aural comprehension skills.

The module objectives will be developed through in-class discussion, based on reading and preparation as indicated each week. Documentation skills will be developed through guided research using both the School Intranet and the Internet, in conjunction with other printed resources available in the School and in the main university library.

The seminars will also involve student oral group presentations, as a means of preparation towards assessed written work. Students will have the opportunity to practice and develop their presentation skills in a structured programme throughout the academic year.

Assessment method: Exam (75%), group oral presentation (25%).

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French
Module content: This is an independent study module, for which you devise, research and write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, related to France or another Francophone country. The module develops your analytical and evaluative skills as well as your linguistic fluency and accuracy. Independent study is supplemented by small group classes and/or one-to-one consultations with your dissertation supervisor, enabling you to develop your presentational and communication skills.

Method of learning and teaching: Plenary sessions will provide information on the expectations for an LTS dissertation and viva and will present objectives, methodology, and a timetable for the module. These sessions will be supplemented by individual and group meetings between supervisors and students. It is the responsibility of the student to comply with deadlines set by the supervisor.  

Assessment method: 5000-6000 word dissertation and separate 300 word abstract in the target language (70%). 20-minute viva: 3/4 minutes of presentation on the dissertation topic and 15 minutes of questions from two examiners (30%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French

Module content: This module analyses the French overseas territories, and critically situates their role and status with respect to France and, more widely, the international system. We analyse the different geopolitical contexts in which the territories operate, and discuss their social, cultural, political, economic and strategic identities and relationships with France.

Method of learning and teaching:
A one-hour lecture followed by a one hour seminar each week, where students will be required to present an analysis, based on selected texts or audio-visual material, of one of the topics addressed during the lectures. These presentations will be followed by general discussions involving all the students. There will form part of the assessment for the course. 

Assessment method: Essay (70%), presentation (30%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: French

Module content: This module examines the Vichy regime of 1940-44, when France was occupied and collaborated with Nazi Germany. It shows how the liberal, democratic, assimilationist model of French Republicanism was abolished by an authoritarian, repressive, ultra-nationalist regime. It explores the historical and political background to Vichy, its policies and personalities, its progressive radicalisation, the tensions between state collaboration and pro-Nazi ‘collaborationism’, and the difficulty of defining Vichy as a political regime. It also considers the aftermath of Vichy and the legacy of this brief regime within the Republican culture of contemporary France.

Method of learning and teaching: The module aims to build subject specific knowledge (historical, political, cultural) as well as developing analytical and textual skills, and to improve proficiency and range in the use of both spoken and written French. Proficiency in spoken French will be developed in seminars, for which students will be required to read, prepare and discuss set texts and other materials, and to participate actively in discussion.

Each two-hour session comprises both a lecture and seminar/group activities. 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). The seminars will provide the opportunity for detailed discussion of key themes and issues. Supplementary guidance on reading will also be provided to support coursework and revision for the Examination by which this module is assessed.

Assessment method: Exam (100%).

Number of credits: 20

Module content:
This module offers students the opportunity to undertake an independent project of social research. The topic and methodology are chosen through consultation with an academic supervisor, and may address any sociological problem using appropriate method(s). The module is an advanced exploration of designing, conducting and presenting social research; undertaking independent intellectual work; and extending critical and organisational abilities. There are six taught sessions during the first term which outline the research process and strategies for organising independent work. The remaining time is spent on independent study in cooperation with individual supervisors.

Assessment method: Viva of work in progress, during term (10%, TP1), written dissertation of 6,000-8,000 words, due during exam period (90%, TP2)

Number fo credits: 10

Module content: In this module students will develop an understanding of the specialist literature relating to the topics taught, and the skills required to critically engage with the three key terms in the module’s title both in relation to a variety of subject areas, and as intersecting lines of identity.

The field of study is drawn from the scholarship on racism, and we note the many overlaps and connections between the three systems of inequality; ‘race’, class and gender. There is a deliberate attempt to mix historical and contemporary subject matter, as well as to use international points of comparison. The range of substantive areas addressed includes; ‘race’ and science; slavery and its legacy; eugenics & Social Darwinism; segregation; white identities; mixed-ness, and anti-Nomadism.

Method of learning and teaching: Lectures and seminars.

The input for each topic will be provided through lectures, while the skills development will be targeted on the seminars. A reading strategy will be deployed. This involves students volunteering to read the set text for each seminar and presenting a 5-minute summary, which then provides the basis for the seminar activity. This could be the analysis of a text or film, or other exercise, usually group work. The activity always addresses the previous week’s lecture topic.

Assessment method: Essay 3000 words (100%).

This module looks at changes in society brought about by campaigning groups and protest.  It combines theory and case studies in order to examine the relationship between social movements and social change.  Case studies range from the US civil rights movement to the current “Occupy” protests.

Assessment method: exam.

Through the systematic examination of a series of theoretical perspectives underpinned by relevant empirical examples, the module explores corporations as social actors, paying particular attention to their ability to shape the world according to their interests.  Case studies include Rupert Murdoch and News International, and the Oil Industry. 

Assessment method: exam.



Aston is 6th for Languages Graduate Level Destinations sixth months after Graduation - Guardian 2013


Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different cultures and societies, their communication skills and motivation for team work. Destinations for Language and Translation Studies graduates over the past three years include:   


  • English Teacher, Business Language Skills
  • PR Graduate Scheme, LIDL
  • French Customer Service Co-ordinator, CRP
  • Bilingual Sales Coordinator, Narrow Aisle Ltd
  • Language Assistant, British Council
  • Translator/Analytical Support, B&Q
  • Immigration Assistant, Australian Embassy UK
  • Marketing Analyst, Deutsche Bank
  • Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis and Selfridges
  • Journalist, Tatler Magazine
  • Account Manager Interpreting, Smoby (French Toy Company)
  • Senior Administrator, Michelin
  • Public Relations Officers for a number of companies
  • European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
  • PGCE Secondary Teaching Qualification at universities including King’s College London, Warwick University and Exeter
  • Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf 

You will take part in interactive seminars, presentations and group work as well as attending lectures and tutorials. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. We teach our French course in French, which means that our students are at a real advantage when it comes to gaining maximum benefit and experience from the year abroad. 

You will be allocated a Personal Tutor when you join us and you will be encouraged to make regular contact with them throughout your studies. Personal Tutors are there to help discuss academic and, in some cases, personal issues. Personal Tutors can also often offer support by writing references for placement/graduate employment and academic research.


Assessment is through a combination of written and oral exams, coursework, essays, translation tasks, presentations and an extended dissertation during your Final Year. Exams take place in January and May/June.

For further information, see the Sociology Joint Honours programme specification and the French Joint Honours programme specification.

Dr Graeme Hayes - Senior Lecturer in French 

Graeme Hayes



“I work on social movements, particularly environmental movements, and especially in France. I have just returned from a two-year EU research fellowship in Rennes, working on protest movements such as the current campaign against the construction of a new airport just north of Nantes. My work centres on collective memory, and what I call ‘activist tradition’ – in other words, how contemporary campaigns relate to previous campaigns, how the meaning of the past is a focus of dispute, and how this affects the forms that social movement campaigns take today. I teach a Year 2 module here at Aston called ‘French Society: Conflict & Consensus’, where I get to talk about these issues and ideas – how disputes about the environment, or about industrial relations, or about the education system, or about rioting in the suburbs, aren’t just disputes about what should or shouldn’t happen today and tomorrow – but also what it means to be French, what liberté and égalité and fraternité should be, what the Republic is. It’s great preparation for students about to go on their year abroad!”

Dr Chris Bolsmann - Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Chris Bolsmann

“Sport is more than a game, it is big business, it is intense local and national rivalry and it reflects society more generally in terms of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. I have co-edited two books on South African football and have authored numerous journal articles on colonial era sporting tours and on postcolonialism in sport in the global era. I am currently researching and writing on the spread of football around the world in the early 20th century and on the emergence of professional football in apartheid South Africa. I teach a Final Year module called the ‘Sociology of Sport and Society’ in which we discuss many of the above issues. One of field trips we undertake is to watch a football match at one of Birmingham’s professional teams. Sociology allows me to see, interpret and understand the world around me differently. With a sociological lens, watching, consuming and participating in sport is immensely rewarding and helps understand society in a different way.”

Campus accommodation guaranteed for First Year and Final Year students returning from year abroad.


The Third Year of your course is spent abroad in a French speaking country - increasing your fluency, enhancing your cultural awareness and adding value to your degree. The year abroad is an integral and assessed part of language studies at Aston University, fully supported by us, and of direct relevance to your degree. A distinctive feature of our year abroad is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company, working as a teaching assistant in a school or studying at one of our partner universities. We are extremely proud of the high level of preparation, orientation and support that we provide before and during your year abroad. We have a full-time International Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away. Find out more about the year abroad.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777
Email: lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Graduate Profile

Graduate Profile

Amy Leighton, Graduate 2012

BSc Sociology and Business

I undertook my first 12 month placement at a creative undergraduate agency, designing marketing campaigns for companies such Morgan Stanley, UBS and Nestle. My Placement Year strengthened my ability to communicate with others effectively and take on vast amounts of responsibility quickly. I now work as a Product Marketing Manager for Atos.


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Download the course brochure



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