Saturday 30 July 2011
What courses? French (often offered as part of a joint honours degree with a multitude of other subjects)
What do you come out with? BA, BSc or MA in Scotland
Why do it? "A degree in French gives you the edge in today’s global job market, whether you are considering a career in business, finance, diplomacy, media, interpreting, translation or teaching. Studying French enables you to develop a high level of oral and written competence in communication skills, and enhances your inter-cultural awareness. Courses in French deepen your understanding of the social, political, economic and cultural environment of France and Francophone countries and strengthen your research and analytical skills. Today, as a graduate of French, you will have the knowledge and skills employers require and the high level of employability amongst graduates of French means you will stand out from the crowd." - Ariane Bogain, senior lecturer in French studies, Northumbria University
What's it about? You study the language, literature, society and culture of France. French single honours seems to be going out of fashion, as many students now combine it with another subject – perhaps another language or business studies, as is increasingly popular these days. Few universities will offer a simple French or French studies degree. In Scottish universities you will be able to combine French with Gaelic and Celtic studies, while many institutions in England and Wales will give you the option of studying the language together with both humanities (geography, history, anthropology) or maths and economics. Learning methods and assessments vary among essays, presentations, oral and written exams and a final dissertation at the end of the fourth year. Most of the courses will also provide practical translation workshop to give you a concrete insight into French translating.
Study options: A degree usually lasts four years, one of which is spent abroad. Each institution offers different perspectives for students who want to travel in a French-speaking country for one year to improve their skills. Most of them give you the chance to spend an ERASMUS or Socrates year studying in numerous French cities, Canada or on the French islands of Reunion or Martinique. Other institutions instead will offer you the chance to spend a year as an English teacher or working in a French company.
What will I need to do it? You will need French, and any other relevant subjects e.g. another foreign language, history and English. Generally, it is required to reach a B grade or above in French and a C grade in English and maths at GCSE. Edinburgh and King’s College require AAA, while Oxford will only take into consideration applicants with three As, before an interview and admission test.
What are my job prospects? Good – graduates with a degree in French are pretty employable. Whether they go into business, diplomacy in international relations, development or sales, you can be certain they’ll have that little bit of je ne sais quoi to help them through. According to The Times’ Good University Guide 2012, seven out of ten graduates are in graduate-level jobs or further study within six months of completing their undergrad, and only 6 per cent are unemployed – a figure much lower than the average. Starting salaries are not bad too, averaging around £20,000 for graduate-level jobs.
Where’s best to do it? Oxford, St Andrews and Durham reached the top three in the Complete University Guide 2012, followed by Cambridge, UCL and Warwick. However, students said that courses at Northumbria, Birmingham and Cambridge were the most satisfying, closely followed by Oxford, Ulster and Leicester.
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