What A-Levels do you need?
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that you’ll need to have studied French at A-Level to win a place on a French degree course. You’ll need to get serious about studying too, as grade requirements are high – the French BA at University College London has a standard entry requirement of AAA, while the University of Glasgow asks for AAB, and Oxford Brookes University BBC. You might also be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of the language at interview, but if you need to brush up on your skills, it’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a meal in a swanky French restaurant, or even a trip across the Channel!
What are your study options?
Unusually, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a three year full-time French course, as the majority of degree courses include a compulsory year abroad. This will usually be in France, but some universities will offer you the option to study in any area where French is an official language, such as Belgium, Monaco, parts of Canada or even some countries in Africa, like Madagascar and Morocco. You can also study French part-time, usually over five or six years. Part-time courses don’t always include a compulsory year abroad, so can be ideal for students who don’t want to leave the UK for an extended period. You can even study French online with institutions such as the Open University, if you want to work while you learn.
Why study French?
If you think that French is only useful for trips to France, you’re wrong – French is spoken by a whopping 65 million people in 50 different countries! Languages are among the most interesting and well-rounded degrees you can study, as you’ll not only learn the language, but also the history of the country and its culture, through media such as books, films and even popular music. Language degrees are also well respected by employers and their graduates are among the most sought-after, meaning you should emerge with career prospects. Plus, we’re not saying speaking French will definitely help you in the romance stakes, but it certainly won’t hurt…
After your French degree…
French is a subject that lends itself to further study; plenty of French graduates go on to study for an MA in French or a related subject like translation studies. You could even go on to study a PhD and become a full-time academic. Alternatively, you could study for a PGCE and become a French teacher, or even work internationally for organisations such as the United Nations or the foreign office! Translation is another popular career path for language graduates; you can do this through an agency or freelance, working from wherever you want in the world. Speaking a high standard of French will also enable you to do any number of jobs in France or another French speaking country, which should satisfy your wanderlust.
Q&A with a French graduate
Paddy Freeland studied BA French and Spanish at Royal Holloway, University of London…
Why did you choose to study French at university?
I had a fascination with languages, and wanted to pursue a degree which had a mix of presentation and written based tasks. Call me a performer, but I thoroughly enjoyed giving presentations in other languages and about a variety of subjects, culture and society.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your course?
I always enjoyed being able to study a variety of aspects of culture, history and society. I've always been a jack of all trades, master of none. Also, you can't beat the opportunity to live and study abroad.
What was the least enjoyable aspect of your course?
You don't ever seem to get a regular set of professors and teachers. Also, there'll always be someone fluent in the class. You'll have to try your best to not let that annoy you, or to always ask them for assistance.
How do you think a French degree might help graduates seeking employment?
After living and studying abroad, walking into an interview in English? Easy.
How did the course prepare you for your job?
Apart from giving you a strong stomach and an ease in uncomfortable situations, I never found the degree especially helpful in the quest for the graduate position. If translation or teaching aren't your thing, then there's no direct route. However, language graduates are always searched for, so you do have lots of options.
What would you like to go on to do in your career in the future?
Travel is on the list; I'm not ambitious career-wise, but working with people, writing and copy-writing, and plenty of travel are what I'm looking for.
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