Modern Languages: French

French is among the most widely-spoken modern languages in the world, with over 300 million speakers worldwide.

It is an official language in such diverse places as Louisiana, Martinique and Belgium as well as France itself, and the many different kinds of French that exist ensure that the language remains central to a thriving variety of cultures.

The literature, art and cinema of France are among the richest and most influential in the world.

Options for studying French at Oxford

French can be studied on its own OR in combination with one of the following languages/subjects:

  • A modern European language: German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Modern Greek, or Czech (with Slovak). Students who do not have an A-level or equivalent in the relevant language may (in all cases, except Spanish) combine French with a beginners’ version of the language. It is also possible to combine French with Polish. We generally expect all students wishing to study Polish to be beginners, though those with experience are also very welcome to apply. 
  • A Middle Eastern Language offered by the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish. These languages are all available to beginners with no prior knowledge of the language.
  • English
  • Classics
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy

The study of European languages at Oxford provides both practical training in written and spoken language and an extensive introduction to the literature, culture and thought of the language(s) you have chosen.

You will learn to write and speak the language(s) fluently, and will be able to choose from a broad range of options including linguistics, film studies and advanced translation. You can study the literature of a language chronologically or focus on particular periods - the medieval, the early modern or the modern era.

A degree in French, or French combined with another language/subject, is normally four years in length. Modern Languages students usually spend the third year of their course abroad (except if they are taking a course involving beginners’ Russian or a Middle Eastern language, in which case they spend the second year abroad). This is often as a paid language assistant in a foreign school, though you may work abroad or study at a foreign university.

French on its own

If you study French as a single language, you will take additional options in that language such as literary theory and film studies. You may also choose to study some Linguistics options.

French with another European language

If you are studying for a joint degree combining French with another language, your time will be split approximately equally between them and you will be expected to learn them to a similarly high level.

French with a Middle Eastern language (BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages)

If you are studying for a joint degree combining French with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, you will spend around half your time studying French and around half studying the other language.

In the first year you will study less literature in the European language to allow for intensive focus on the Middle Eastern language.

You will normally spend your second academic year at an approved course of study in the Middle East. You are strongly advised to spend the adjacent summers where the European language of your choice is spoken.

French and another subject (English, Classics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy)

If you are studying for a joint degree combining French with another subject, around half of the degree programme will consist of French, and around half will be made up of courses related to the other subject.

Visit French on the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages website for more information.