The Department of French Studies at Mary Immaculate College provides undergraduate degree courses in French language, literature and culture to approximately 200 students currently enrolled in the BA in Liberal Arts and the B Ed in Primary Teaching programmes. It also offers supervision to graduate students at both MA and PhD level.
The Department enjoys a strong research and publication profile, with faculty members active on a range of national and international bodies. Our dedicated lecturing staff, assisted by a French language assistant and several other teaching assistants, are here to make your time as a student of French as enjoyable as possible.
Our courses are delivered through a combination of lectures and small-group tutorials, conversation and language laboratory classes, allowing for a close working relationship and affording students a high level of individual attention and support throughout their time at MIC.
Our BA degree programme consists of a broadly-based initiation to modern French language and culture. In addition to intermediate and advanced language practice, it also introduces students to aspects of history, society and literature from across a wide range of genres and periods. Most course work is conducted through the medium of French.
In the third year of the BA programme, students have the opportunity to spend a semester or a full year in France in a variety of work placements and/or ERASMUS study exchanges with partner universities in Aix-en-Provence, Clermont-Ferrand, La Roche sur Yon, Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Toulouse and Tours.
A degree in French opens doors to a wide range of employment and postgraduate opportunities (Higher Diploma, MA), particularly in the context of an increasingly unified European jobs market.
Language skills and intercultural competences are in greater demand than ever before. In addition to teaching, translation and interpreting, areas such as journalism, marketing, public relations, tourism, banking and commerce, law and informatics all offer excellent opportunities to language graduates.
Whatever your chosen career path, when you are competing for a job with dozens of other candidates, the fact that you studied French will often make the difference. Employers know that language graduates, through their specific training, have usually acquired excellent social, communicational and organisational skills, in addition to such personal qualities as confidence, flexibility and open-mindedness.
Below is a list of French Studies modules currently on offer at MIC, in descending order from First Year onwards. All of the following modules are for BA students only except when specified otherwise:
One weekly lecture will aim at providing First Year students with an overview of the main historical events and figures which have contributed to the shaping of France as a nation throughout the centuries. A second weekly lecture will focus on France’s current social and political organisation. The acquisition of formal grammatical skills will be the focus of a third weekly lecture which will be complemented by a weekly small-group tutorial dedicated to grammar and translation exercises.
One weekly lecture will provide First Year ab initio students with an overview of the main historical events and figures which have contributed to the shaping of France as a nation throughout the centuries. A second weekly lecture will focus on France’s current social and political organisation. The acquisition of the basics of French grammar and vocabulary will be the focus of three weekly tutorials.
This module is comprised of a cultural and a language component. The team-taught, cultural component is divided into two strands: Introduction to the History of Art and Literature and Children’s Literature. A weekly hour-long lecture will be dedicated to each strand, which, together, will introduce students to essential cultural reference points from the past, a selection of famous children’s literature as well as broad overview of the evolution of French art and literature from the Renaissance to the present. The language component will combine one lecture hour per week with written language and laboratory classes which will alternate weekly. The focus in the language lecture will be on French grammar and essay writing skills in French and English, while in tutorials students will hone their skills of comprehension, composition, and translation through group work on short texts drawn from a variety of media that relate to French culture.
This module is comprised of a cultural and a language component. The team-taught, cultural component will introduce students to the history of French art and literature. The language component will combine two weekly written language tutorials and two weekly laboratory classes to strengthen and further develop the students’ knowledge of French grammar and idiom through intensive translation, comprehension and pronunciation exercises.
Translation from and into French and development of practical language skills. Discussion of a range of subjects relevant to social and cultural trends in contemporary France as exemplified in appropriate articles taken from French magazines and newspapers; general conversation.
Advanced & Beginners
Cultural approaches to love differ significantly from one country to another. France is often described as the country of love and seduction par excellence. This Second Year module offers to explore the origins and evolution of this stereotypical perception of the French lover through the study of a number of literary texts representative of different historical periods. The key role of art in general and literature in particular in the formation and/or transmission of social codes will be studied along with the complex mechanisms involved in the constitution of cultural stereotypes.
A continuation of our special programme for ab-initio students in order to prepare them for their year abroad in Third Year and for joining the advanced cohort in final year. Beginners attend two weekly lectures with the Second Year advanced cohort.
Advanced & Beginners
This module studies the tortuous relationships between fact and fiction as famous French writers focus on their own lives. We will study how identities are constructed through gender, class and race, and will discuss identity formation (and its breakdown) through certain literary and philosophical theories (existentialism, modernism, Marxism and postmodernism). After considering passages from Rousseau’s model autobiography, Les Confessions, we turn our attention to twentieth-century authors such as André Gide, Nathalie Sarraute, Jean-Paul Sartre, Marguerite Duras, and Patrick Modiano.
The module comprises a textual and a language component. With reference to a variety of literature and film, students will examine shifts in the conception of French and Francophone identities since WW2. As a consequence of the social upheavals following decolonisation, new tensions have emerged around the notion of the Republican citizen, and these tensions have been creative of counter discourses that suggest the interplay of multiple strands in the formation of contemporary French identities. Students will explore how categories such as class, gender, language and, in particular, ethnicity become formative in the construction of alternative narratives of social life in France. Building on work done in the first year, the language component aims to consolidate students’ linguistic skills in the areas of spoken, written and aural French, with particular emphasis on French composition techniques. Beginners attend two weekly lectures with the advanced cohort.
This module combines literary, political, social and cultural history approaches in order to explore the nature of the French experience of Occupation during WW2 and to examine the ways in which such experience has been commemorated in the years since Liberation in 1944. The lectures will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the historical events leading up to and including the Occupation and thus explore the various trials and traumas of wartime France. This will be complimented in seminars though close reading, discussion and translation of excerpts from key journalistic and other non-fictional/fictional texts dating from the period in question. Selected literary and cinematic retrospective representations of these ‘dark years’ will also be studied with a view to introducing students to ongoing debates concerning the historiography of wartime France. Students will acquire background knowledge of the history of the second World War in France. They will analyse a range of cinematic and literary responses to the Occupation in order to understand the different, often conflictual, ways in which the Occupation has been remembered in France. This module is also comprised of three weekly language tutorials.
BA students follow the Off-Campus Programme for both semesters of the third year. This is comprised of international study placement and/or relevant work placement. French students, who wish to study abroad, are advised by department staff on the availability of appropriate courses. Guidance is also provided for those who wish to use the opportunity to begin research work for final-year dissertations in French.
Lectures will focus attention on the involvement of intellectuals in the French political sphere. We will discuss the importance of the figure of the public intellectual in France, and the manner in which prominent members of the intelligentsia became involved in crises of decolonisation that transformed the country’s social and political landscape. Thus, students will be encouraged to interrogate the role played by the intellectual elite in the reconstruction - both figurative and literal - of the Republic in the years immediately following the second World War, and, more specifically, throughout the process of decolonisation. Seminars will focus on the analysis and translation of texts written by intellectuals during the period of decolonisation. This will consolidate students' linguistic and translation skills while also drawing attention to the concept of discourse analysis and power and manipulation of language. This module is also comprised of three weekly language tutorials.
The 18th and 19th centuries in France were a period of rapid modernisation, aggravated social tensions, and literary and artistic innovation. This module sets out to explore the two defining pillars of the Enlightenment – reason and sensibility – as expressed through the literature of the age. The course will focus on a selection of works by leading thinkers and writers, each of whom brings a different vision of life to bear in his works, in an attempt to make sense of the human condition and of a turbulent social context within which the individual is goaded into thought, reaction and the assumption of moral responsibility.
An advanced course in French grammar and translation; investigation of language registers; analysis of literary style. Discussion of a range of subjects relevant to social, political and cultural trends in contemporary French society; reading of short unseen passages in French; general conversation based on extracts taken from a selection of French newspapers and magazines.
This module aims to introduce students to the history of French theatre and will give students an opportunity to perform a whole play and/or passages of famous plays. Live performance will enable students to develop their communication and pronunciation skills while, at the same time, enabling them to acquire more vocabulary and improving their translation skills.
An opportunity for personal work/study, with limited supervision, on an approved topic of special interest to the student; an opportunity to develop research and presentation skills.
What Graduates say about French Studies at MIC...
“I started my journey as an undergraduate in MIC in 2007, registering for a BA in Liberal Arts as a Mature Student. When it came to choosing my subjects, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to study French. Choosing to study a language at university is more than a proven career move it is also a chance to immerse yourself in another culture and way of life. Studying French at MIC is the best way to experience the French joie de vivre apart from living in the country (another advantage that comes with the course)! Dr Loic Guyon heads an amazing department and the expertise of the French department lecturing team is exemplary. With the opportunity to delve into popular culture including French cinema it is also great fun! Through the MIC French department I went on to complete a research masters under the supervision of Darach Sanfey with the aid of college assistantship. I eventually went on to achieve a lifetime dream, to complete a PhD under the supervision of Dr Guyon. My journey which began in 2007 as an undergraduate ended in 2015 when I was conferred as a PhD. I have since left Academia and now work in the Software Industry as part of the International Recovery team of a large US corporation, where I use my French language skills daily. Proving that the decision to study French in MIC may be the best one you could ever make!” Vivien Hennessy (BA, 2011; MA, 2012 & PhD, 2015)
“I would like to thank the department for all your help, support, guidance and encouragement during the last four years. I am very glad that I chose to study French in Mary I and I am very grateful to you all for all the help you have provided.” Sarah Keane (BA, 2014)
"I thoroughly enjoyed studying French at Mary I. All of the lecturers and tutors are very approachable and are always willing to help. They always use continuous assessment and even give opportunities to correct your work! This means that you are allowed to get the best possible result and it also means that there is less pressure in exams! There is a focus on French language, literature, civilisation, society and culture. These complement each other and it also means that there is variety and something to suit everybody. The Department organises movie nights to give students the opportunity to improve their French but it also means that you will be part of a close and friendly community. I am sure that my knowledge of French will be beneficial to me in my future teaching career.” Siobhán Corcoran (B Ed, 2012)
“In first year I chose to study French because I really loved studying it in secondary school, and I wanted to pursue this love by studying it in university with a vast choice of literature, language and drama. In first year of MIC French was not my strongest subject but I chose to take it to degree level because I enjoyed it the most out of my other first year subjects. The best part of the B.A programme in MIC is the 3rd year off-campus, where I spent five months studying French in France. It was definetly beneficial to me because it helped me to improve my French, and I learned a lot culturally and socially as well as academically. The staff in the French department are all very friendly and really encouraging, they are also very approachable. The French course has changed a lot since my first year, it looks really interesting and I am slightly envious of new in-coming students of French to MIC, I wish I could do it all again.” Chantelle Fehilly (BA, 2011)
“Thank you for the time I spent under your instruction! I really enjoyed your course, and I can't express how much I've taken away from my study of French Studies at Mary Immaculate College and I hope to continue my study of French into the future.” Emer Murphy (B Ed, 2011)
- Subject Overview