French and Philosophy (BA)

Each school involved in delivering the degree offers a challenging programme of modules, supported by a friendly atmosphere and excellent staff-student relationships.

The School of Modern Languages and the School of English, Communication and Philosophy aim to educate our students to become ‘global citizens’. By combining French and Philosophy, you will gain a wealth of transferable skills and knowledge beneficial to the world of employment, making you competitive and attractive in an increasingly global workforce and opening the doors to a variety of career paths.     

There are two related aspects of the philosophy course at Cardiff that mark it out among Russell Group universities. One is that there is a strong emphasis on ethics, politics, and aesthetics among the modules on offer. The other is that our research and teaching is spread equally across both the ‘analytic’ and ‘Continental’ styles of Western philosophy, allowing students to develop a full understanding of both with the possibility of an informed choice to specialise in one approach or the other.

France is a major actor on the European and world stage, possessing a rich and sophisticated culture. French is one of the official working languages of the European community and still a global language of culture and diplomacy. 

We offer French for both advanced students and beginners. In terms of language acquisition, this course will enable you to develop your writing, oral and aural skills through a range of learning activities, and using a variety of audio-visual materials. In your first year, in addition to your language tuition, an introduction to history and culture seeks to provide a solid foundation for more specialised studies as you progress through your course.  

Your understanding of the French language will be further developed and refined during your year abroad, when you will experience life in a French-speaking country at first hand.       

It is important to remember that studying languages is not just about the language itself. It involves exploring many aspects of a country. At Cardiff we aspire to offer a genuinely broad course including optional modules in film, literature, history of art, politics and history.

On completion of this four-year programme, you will have a high level of language proficiency, as well as a critical understanding of key aspects of French history, culture, literature, politics and contemporary society.   

Distinctive features

  • core modules that guarantee a solid base for all, but then allow you, with advice from your personal tutor, to carve out a programme that will best fit your interests and career aspirations
  • a pathway into this degree for beginners who do not have French A-level
  • a year spent studying or working in a French-speaking country
  • students of Business French may sit the internationally recognised examination of the Paris Chamber of Commerce. 

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Studying in WelshUp to 33% of this course is available through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information
Typical places availableThe School typically has 185 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives 600 applications.
Typical A level offerABB, excluding General Studies. Three A-level subjects, generally including a B in a modern language for French beginners or B in French for the advanced pathway. Exceptions can be made according to personal circumstances. Two AS subjects may be considered in lieu of a third A-level.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above), and excluding any specified language A-levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points overall from French at higher level, to include 5 in French plus 6,5 at higher level.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed admissions and selection criteria for more information. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

This is a four-year full-time degree, consisting of 120 credits a year, split between the two subjects. The third year is spent abroad.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

Year one is a foundation year to give you the skills for advanced study and an overview of the two subjects to inform your later choices. You will take 120 credits in total equally split between 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in French.

The compulsory philosophy modules focus on the nature of thinking and introduce the central concepts, theories, arguments, and approaches of contemporary moral and political theory. 

In year one French you will build on core linguistic skills and be introduced to French culture, literature, civilisation and politics. There are two French pathways available: an advanced pathway for students with an A-level or equivalent competence in French and a beginner’s pathway for students with limited or no knowledge of French. 

The first year of this programme provides a thorough foundation in the grammar of the language for those students on the beginner’s pathway, and develops the linguistic skills for post A-level students on the advanced pathway. To provide a foundation for more specialised studies, you also study modules devoted to relevant history, culture, politics, economics and society.      

Module titleModule codeCredits
Critical ThinkingSE410720 credits
Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 credits
Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
Modern FranceML619920 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Advanced French Language Year 1ML618840 credits
Beginners French Language Year 1ML618940 credits

Year two

In year two you will again take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in French.

There are no compulsory Philosophy modules in year two, allowing you to choose the path you take to lay a solid foundation for your final year.

The language elements of year two French focus on preparation for the year abroad.  This is complemented by optional modules, which offer real insights into French and Francophone life, politics, culture and more. You can choose a range of options, such as Business French (which prepares you for the highly sought-after Paris Chamber of Commerce examination), France and Africa, France and the Second World War or multimedia adaptations of French fiction amongst others.

Year three: Sandwich year

Year three is spent in France, or possibly in another French-speaking country. Your options include studying at one of our partner universities, working as an English assistant in a school through the British Council Scheme, or working for a French organisation or company. No matter what you choose, the year abroad is a great opportunity for you to improve your understanding of the language, immerse yourself in another culture, and gain international study or work experience.

If you choose the study option, we have established exchange programmes which provide opportunities to study in institutions in cities including Paris, Toulouse, Chambéry, Montpellier and Nantes amongst others, and we also have academic links with Brussels.  

Placements for teaching assistants on a scheme run by the British Council can take you to either a major city or a small, rural town. This option provides first-hand teaching experience and allows you to earn a salary sufficient to live on, although you only work on a part-time basis. Prior to the start of your placement, the British Council provides a training weekend in the destination country. In addition, the school you have been assigned to should also guide you in your role as a teacher and help you to find a place to live.

The third option consists of a work placement with an organisation or company in the French-speaking world. The necessary arrangements can be made through personal contacts you may have or by approaching organisations directly. In order to ensure that your work placement affords you plenty of opportunity to speak French and provides you with a beneficial experience, such arrangements will require prior approval by the School.

Any student who undertakes a study placement or a traineeship/work placement in Europe is eligible to apply for an Erasmus grant.     

The year abroad is a great opportunity for you to improve your understanding of the language, immerse yourself in another culture, and gain international study or work experience.

While you are away from Cardiff, you will be assigned a year abroad coordinator, who will keep in touch with you and monitor your progress. You may also get a visit from one of your lecturers who will be keen to find out how you are getting on.

Final year students are usually happy to help with our regular year abroad briefings and have contributed to our extensive ‘year abroad module’ on Learning Central which provides you with student-centred advice throughout your year abroad.

Studying or working abroad is excellent preparation for your final year and gives you a level of self-confidence and maturity that has proven popular with employers.                  

Year four

In your final year you will take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in French.

Your final year is based around Philosophy modules that reflect the current research activities of the staff who teach them, building on the themes studied in year two. You will read and think about the very same texts that the module leader is currently thinking and writing about.

French no longer distinguishes between beginner and advanced students in the final year and all students of French take the same language modules. You will refine your linguistic skills in terms of expression and translation, and specialise in your areas of interest by choosing specialised module options. 

Our final year dissertation module gives you the option to write a dissertation and engage more deeply with a chosen topic area, as well as extending your research and analytical skills.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

We offer a supportive learning environment, where you are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge. Our courses foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team working, independent research and time management.

You will be taught both by lecture and seminar. Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop your own ideas. Seminars provide an opportunity for you to explore the ideas outlined in the lectures.

Seminars usually consist of about 15 students and the seminar leader (a member of the teaching team). Seminars may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small-group work and student-led presentations.

Language classes are taught in groups to enhance confidence and active learning. A varied timetable includes oral expression, aural comprehension and writing skills, which are taught in small groups to enhance confidence and active learning. These vital communication skills are practiced and developed through regular classwork exercises and written work. Our teaching methods allow you to engage with a range of language-learning technologies. Materials including textbooks, videos, films, novels, audio files and websites are supported by online resources that compliment classroom activities and promote and enable independent learning. Class materials include a range from literary and historical to contemporary journalistic texts, providing a broad insight into language and culture.

How will I be supported?

As well as having regular feedback from your personal tutor in each course, you will have a reading week each semester for guided study and a chance to catch up on assessed work, reading and revision. These weeks are also used by staff to visit students on their year abroad.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


We’ll provide you with frequent feedback on your work. This comes in a variety of formats including oral feedback, personalised feedback on written work and general feedback in relation to examinations. You will also be able to discuss your overall performance with your personal tutor.

How will I be assessed?

A range of assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios and creative assignments.

Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Dedicated essay workshops and individual advice enable you to produce your best work, and written feedback on essays feeds forward into future work, enabling you to develop your strengths and address any weaker areas.

The optional final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic of interest to you in depth and to acquire detailed knowledge about a particular field of study, to use your initiative in the collection and presentation of material and present a clear, cogent argument and draw appropriate conclusions.

What skills will I practise and develop?

As a result of engaging fully with this course, you will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’. These will allow you to:

  • grasp complex issues with confidence
  • ask the right questions of complex texts
  • have an imaginative appreciation of different views and options and analyse these critically
  • identify and apply relevant data
  • develop practical research skills
  • propose imaginative solutions of your own that are rooted in evidence
  • communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively in writing and speech
  • work to deadlines and priorities, managing a range of tasks at the same time
  • learn from constructive criticism and incorporate its insights
  • work as part of a team, developing a collaborative approach to problem-solving
  • developing your linguistic skills, as well as a broad appreciation of the culture, literature, and history of French and French speaking countries
  • use IT programmes and digital media, where appropriate
  • take responsibility for your own learning programme and professional development.

School of Modern Languages   

In 2013/14, 95% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

Many graduates enjoy their year overseas so much that they take time out for more travel, or go abroad on graduation in search of employment.  

Of those who choose to remain in the UK, many pursue postgraduate studies such as one of the School’s MA degrees in European Studies or in Translation or a PGCE. Others start work immediately following their graduation, and our graduates go on to secure excellent careers in international diplomacy, the Civil Service, teaching, business and journalism. Other employment options include roles as translators, language assistants, export assistants and proof-readers.  

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

In 2013/14, 91% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

We provide our students with a highly satisfying academic experience that assists their development as critically-minded, culturally-aware citizens whose high analytic skills, powers of expression and progressive self-reliance make them extremely attractive to employers.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Year three is spent working or studying in a French speaking country.

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.