French is one of the world’s major international languages: it is spoken by over 200 million people in 43 countries, on five continents. A knowledge of French may increase access to careers in international relations, development studies, business, science and the arts.

The overall objective of the French Studies program is to teach you to process information from a wide variety of materials in French, both written and spoken, and to produce accounts and discussions of that information in a variety of forms. In subjects at all levels, you will be guided towards undertaking independent research projects into areas including language, literature, politics, cinema, theatre, travel writing, food and wine, immigration and identity.

French language study at the University of Melbourne is also available in the Diploma in Languages. 


  • Communications
  • Community development
  • Diplomacy
  • Government
  • International relations
  • Multinational business
  • Teaching
  • Translation and interpretation

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This subject offers students an introduction to the study of language and culture in the French Studies discipline. The subject is designed to equip students who have little or no previous study of the French language with the skills necessary to become independent language learners, and to develop awareness and understanding of French-speaking cultures throughout the world. While developing mastery of the basic grammatical structures of the language, students will begin interpreting and discussing authentic documents in French, including short written texts, for example poems and proverbs, and audiovisual material such as songs and advertisements. Class work and assessment will focus on the development of reading and writing skills via the interpretation of authentic texts, and also on oral communication skills, including listening comprehension, pronunciation, and discussion of the texts studied. Students will undertake a group project on an aspect of French-speaking cultures. Throughout the semester, students will develop increasing autonomy in their study of the French language and French-speaking cultures throughout the world.

  • This subject offers students who have completed French 1, or equivalent, an increasing immersion into the study of the French language and of French-speaking cultures throughout the world. Students will develop further autonomy in their study of more sophisticated grammatical structures of the language and in their interpretation of the cultural reference of authentic texts. These documents will be of greater complexity in relation to the previous semester’s work and will include written texts, for example poems and proverbs, and audio-visual material such as songs and a feature film. Students will undertake a research project on an aspect of French-speaking cultures, and will produce written work on the basis of a preparatory oral presentation in class. Reading and writing skills will be developed through the interpretation of authentic texts in French with the guided use of dictionaries and other resources and with a specific focus on the production of summaries (résumés) of the texts. Oral communication skills will be developed through more sophisticated listening comprehension and pronunciation exercises as well as the in-class oral presentation and discussion of the texts studied.

  • This subject will build on the grammatical, lexical and cultural knowledge and the oral skills acquired in French 1 and 2. The course also stresses the productive aspect of language use in practical situations by means of regular small-group activities. In terms of cultural knowledge, students will increase their historical awareness of the background to the birth of Republic. The key character and moment around which the cultural content of the subject will be articulated is “Louis XIV and his absolute monarchy and its fall”. Using materials on these topics, the subject will build on the formal study of French by developing the competences needed for résumé. Students will be given the tools to become active storytellers through the study of narrative/historical tenses (présent, passé composé/imparfait, passé simple), third-person narrative, and the logical connectors needed for cohesive discourse. The subject will systematically relate the structures encountered in the scripts of the films and in written texts to a reference grammar, and will teach students how to use that grammar for their own investigation of the mechanisms of syntax and grammatical rules. Students will also learn how to use a French monolingual dictionary to discover the grammatical and semantic information they need for processing texts.

  • The subject will follow the motto of the French Republic and explore the cultural, social and political aspects linked to these concepts. It will build on the skills developed in French 3 for the purpose of résumé and narrative competencies in oral and written form and expand into more complex sentences and verb forms (subjunctive, gerund, present and past participles). Work on discourse structure will continue.

    The material used will centre on the important events of the 19th century that will see the gradual consolidation of the republican system through a succession of empires, monarchies and republics. Students will explore modern representations in film and other media of these events, and demonstrate their relevance for the understanding of today’s French-speaking world.

    The concepts of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” will be explored in relationship to the revolutions of that century, the evolution of the legal system and the development of the French colonial empire. Students will undertake small research projects on “key personalities” – significant historical figures and their influence.

    The study of the documents will be associated with the use of a reference grammar and a French monolingual dictionary to discover semantic, syntactic and lexical information they need for processing texts on these topics.

  • What does it mean to be French in the 21st century? Why should this question be asked? The program will explore the controversies concerning French unity that are currently taking place in France, not only in political terms but primarily as a conception of language and culture. The background to these controversies will also be explored by looking into contemporary debates and what feeds into them from the recent past. To this end, the subject will draw on a range of material from popular culture such as songs, advertisements, news articles, comics, TV shows, sport as well as French cinema and literature to explore and analyse the way in which this identity has been negotiated by individuals or groups of individuals at different points in time. Parallels and contrasts will be made with the various policies and initiatives taken by successive governments to promote national unity and patriotic sentiment (from street names to museums, the army and the republican school). The way this myth of unity was initially construed will also be discussed in the light of key national and international events.

  • This subject offers high-level French students a course in advanced conversation structure and analysis. It will build on the linguistic and cultural competences acquired in previous levels to develop greater awareness of how the historical, intercultural, political and social aspects of language impact on oral communication in French.

    The program will focus on two main areas of conversation: the refinement of conversation as an expression of elegance, intelligence and “esprit” during the Ancien Régime and the political dimensions of contemporary conversation and debate. It will include material on significant cultural taboos and the historical underpinnings of sensitive topics, as well as politeness and registers. Current affairs and contemporary debates will be analysed with an emphasis on situational contexts to consider factors such as goals, intentions, situational constraints and contextual expectancies.

    The aims of this subject are to understand the historical significance of the value placed on conversational skills in French society. It will build on the introduction to argumentation in French 5 in oral communication, while strengthening aural comprehension competences. Reading and writing will be maintained, and students will refine their understanding of the differences between the written and the spoken language and of how to move from one to the other.

  • In this course students learn about some of Europe’s most important cuisines and how they have been plated up for consumption in Melbourne. As an expression of identity, food is often used to support national and regional identity. In the first part of this course, students will consider the relationship between gastronomy and identity. Students will be introduced to a range of key culinary concepts and practices and the way we talk about them. Through analysis of some of the key features of French, German, Italian and Spanish cuisines, students will consider how these countries’ culinary profiles speak to wider socio-political issues such as authenticity, food and space, cultural practices and the history of food.

    In the second part of this course, students will consider issues of “authenticity” in the way cuisines are plated up for consumption in Melbourne. This will require students to interrogate their assumptions and expectations about European foods and to reflect on their personal experience of the “taste” of Europe.

  • This subject explores national identity in Europe in the modern era through studying the ‘making’ and ‘breaking’ of nations at key moments in Europe’s history such as the 19 th century, post-World War I and II, the break up of the Soviet Union and the expansion of the European Union. It introduces students to the national myths and legends of Western European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as select countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Students will read stories of national beginnings and endings, tales of heroism and rebirth, nostalgia and hope, liberation and unity, taken from popular culture, songs, poems, drama and art. An enduring theme will be the ways in which a sense of national self emerges from direct comparison to perceptions of “others”, including Jews, women, the poor and peoples of other nations. Students will gain an appreciation of nation and national identity in Europe as a discursive process, and an understanding of the distinct national stories of a number of European countries.

  • European modernism refers to a wide range of experimental and avant-garde trends in literature and arts at the end of the 19th and early 20th century and has proven a major influence on current (Western) literature, film and the arts. This course introduces students to key themes of modernist literature, theatre, and film in Europe. The course familiarizes students with key writers and thinkers of this period and will address the ways in which they provoked their readers/viewers through new and complex forms and styles. Major themes comprise the crisis of representation, the representation of cosmopolitanism and urban cultural dislocation, consciousness and memory, and sexuality. (Students undertaking this subject will be expected to regularly access an internet-enabled computer.)

  • Following the focus on advanced oral skills at French 6, students will now develop advanced writing skills. Building on their mastery of résumé and synthèse acquired in previous subjects students will learn how to structure and present more developed essays. This will be done working with the theme, “The culture of the language” in which French is viewed not only as the principal vehicle of French culture; it is also as an object represented in and by that culture. This subject rounds out the study of French by examining traditions that have shaped the understanding of what “French” is for French speakers around the world. The subject is a formal prerequisite for entry into Honours in French.

  • This subject offers an introduction to French Cinema from the New Wave to the present. Themes covered in the subject include the New Wave in its social and cultural context; auteur theory; cinematographic language; representations of social change and the interpretation of cultural identities in French film. On completion of the subject, students should demonstrate familiarity with the practices and theoretical concerns of New Wave and post-New Wave filmmakers in France, be able to analyse the social and cultural processes represented in selected films from the period studied, demonstrate an awareness of critical approaches to French film, and communicate the results of their research and analysis in both oral and written forms. The subject will be taught and assessed in French. Prior experience in Film Studies is neither assumed nor required.

  • This subject aims to help students transfer their adult reading skills from their native language to French, in order to be able to use French written sources for the same purpose as they use written sources in their own language. These purposes may be reading for information, reading for specialised study (literature, history, philosophy), reading for pleasure. This subject aims first and foremost to enable students to develop effective and appropriate reading strategies such that they become independent and successful readers.

  • This course will explore the comparative stylistics of French and English from a theoretical as well as a practical perspective. It will consist of lectures on the methodology of translation from French to English followed by tutorials where it will be put into practice. Students will explore aspects of literary, technical and official translation and their application in today’s world.

  • This subject examines how travel writing translates the world into words, and as such is a key to understanding international relations and intercultural communication. Focusing mainly on contemporary texts but also referring to classical French travel literature, it introduces students to a wide range of fictional and non-fictional travel narratives in French set in various geographical locations. Texts range from explorer’s accounts to contemporary travel tales, together with examples from comics (Tintin), cinema, fiction and journalism. Students are encouraged to pursue reading and assessment tasks that coincide with their own interests for past, present and future travel destinations. Students will study theoretical, anthropological, philosophical and literary texts in this field to develop a sound understanding of the intercultural, (post)colonial and geopolitical issues that may be presented through travel writing and the encounter with the Other. This subject is taught in French.

  • The aims of this subject are to give an in-depth understanding of the French and francophone theatre literature and to value and critically evaluate this literature. The subject will cover textual analysis of French theatre plays from the 17 th century to 21 st century, such as Molière’s comedies, Racine’s tragedies (17 th c.), Ionesco’s absurdist dramas (20 th c.) or Yasmina Reza’s or Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s contemporary dramas (21 st c.). Students will have the opportunity to read or perform passages from selected plays. They will also be involved in the creative writing of theatre scenes, role-plays or a short play in French.

  • This subject covers topics such as exile and immigration in France, immigration policies and their direct impact on the migrant population. colonisation and decolonisation, racism and multiculturalism, French identity, nationality and citizenship. On completion of this subject, students should be able to analyse critically and synthesise coherently the arguments in the debate on immigration in France. discriminate among statements of evidence, interpretation, opinion and facts, regarding the definition and redefinition of the notions of culture, identity, and Frenchness in the context of globalisation, and compare and reflect on similar issues of immigration in other countries, in particular Australia. This subject will be taught and assessed in French.

  • This intensive three week study abroad subject will be taught in Touraine, in the heart of the Loire Valley, a region whose denizens have long been recognized as having the purest French accent. This course will focus on one of the most creative times of French history, albeit one of the most turbulent, the Renaissance. With a series of lectures, tutorials and detailed site visits, this subject will examine some of the most striking examples of French Renaissance architecture, including the famed “Chateaux de la Loire” built during the late 16th century, and learn about arts and history. This course will use an interdisciplinary approach (linguistic, history, art history, botany, gastronomy etc.) and will be taught in conjunction with specialists in art and literature from the French Ministry of Education.

  • Intensive French 3 and 4 is designed to provide students with a systematic revision and consolidation of the essential structures of French. Classes will present grammar, syntax and vocabulary in meaningful situations. The subject also stresses the productive aspect of language use in practical situations, while extending grammatical and lexical knowledge and refining oral skills. Listening skills are also developed by use of authentic documents. Students will also spend time in private study working on written and oral exercises and using online resources. On completion of the subject students should be able to sustain conversations and express opinions on topics of general interest, have consolidated their knowledge of all basic structures of French, and have attained level B1 of competence in the Common European Reference Framework in the target language. They will also have read a short story in French and explore the linguistic and cultural aspects contained in it.

  • This subject examines the relationship between language and society in Europe. It focuses on issues of relevance in an increasingly integrated Europe in which European and other languages are in contact through migration, travel, business, and mass media, and in which English is taking on an important role as a lingua franca. The topics to be covered include: the relationship between majority and minority languages, dialects and the standard language. bilingualism and multilingualism. semi-communication. language planning at state and European levels. politeness and forms of address. and the status and influence of English.

  • In France since the 19th century, the preparation, serving and consumption of food, in both the domestic and public space, has been emblematic of French bourgeois cultural hegemony. In this subject students will examine the elaboration of normative codes relating to food and wine and the emergence of gastronomy as an expression of cultural dominance and identity. Students will also study challenges to bourgeois cuisine and gastronomy as have been experienced since at least the mid-20th century, resulting primarily from the colonial history of France and its current multi-cultural situation. Students will engage with a wide variety of discursive practices including treatises on taste and gastronomy, recipe books, restaurant critiques, works of fiction and contemporary film.

  • The eye-witness account and the personal memoir offer powerful ways of exploring the human legacy of overwhelming historical events on individual lives. But how do literary genres like the memoir and autobiography manage to speak about unspeakable topics, how do they represent the unrepresentable and write about trauma? What is the function, and what the effect, of writing memory for the victim, for the reader, and for the perpetrator? How do the offspring of the victims and perpetrators "remember" their parents" traumas and shape memories of events they have only experienced second-hand? What is the relationship between fiction and memory in memoir writing and how do we read a testimonial of a Holocaust survivor that has been faked? This subject will introduce students to a selection of testimonial writing and films that tell individual stories of a shameful national past. It explores the effect of generic convention on the relation of history and memory, and the need for generic invention to speak trauma and tell the un-tellable. Its focus will be on the Holocaust, the Algerian War, and life under Eastern bloc communist regimes. This subject will focus on writing from France, Germany, and Italy in the first instance, but may from time to time include writing from other parts of Europe.

  • This course, which includes an intensive in-country component, will explore the history, politics and socio-cultural context of New Caledonia as it transitions towards possible independence from France through a series of referenda between 2014 and 2018. This will be achieved by examining the events which have led to this transition, including the independence movements in the 1970s and 80s and the Matignon and Nouméa agreements. The central theme of the course is the “common destiny” of the various peoples of New Caledonia; this theme will be examined through a series of lectures and workshops prior to departure, and a diverse program of activities on site in New Caledonia, including a visit to the Kanak Customary Senate and a stay with a Kanak community.

  • In this subject students will study a selection of novels from the 19th century, analysing their narrative structures, and developing an awareness of their social and political contexts. Various theories of narrative will be used to facilitate an understanding of the evolution of the French novel from Romanticism to Decadence. At the end of this subject students should be able to analyse the narrative structure of various novels and hav e a better understanding of nineteenth-century French literature.

  • A team-taught study of postwar European cinema during a period of intense political and social change. Students who complete this subject should be familiar with some of the major developments in cinematic representation in Europe from the early 20th century to the present. They should be able to relate the films studied to their national and European cultural and historical context.

    Note: This subject is taught in English.

  • In this subject students will read a selection of novels in French (from the Middle Ages to 18th century) in order to understand the evolution of the French novel. They will have to analyse the narrative structures and demonstrate critical awareness of the social, political and ideological context of each novel. The subject will be taught in French.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the

Bachelor of Arts&Bachelor of Arts Extended