French Studies

The Department of French Studies is part of the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

About the major

French is spoken by more than 300 million people, and is an official language in 29 countries (known as la Francophonie), the United Nations and the European Union. It is also the language of many major literary, philosophical and political works. French Studies provides access to this rich culture and history and could lead to a career in international relations and trade, journalism, IT, teaching, interpreting and translation, law, medicine, the arts and a range of international organisations. Whatever your prior knowledge of French, the department provides pathways to a French major. You can enrol in our Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced streams, and there are options for ‘fast-tracking’ to a higher level if you do well. You will not only study French language but also French and Francophone cultures and social media, cinemas, literatures, linguistics and language pedagogy. In addition, you can spend a semester or a year on exchange in France, Switzerland or Quebec (Canada).

All teaching in the Department is in French, with content, learning activities and assessment adapted to your language level in each unit of study. Our teaching is strongly focused on student participation and interaction, and aims to foster the development of autonomous learning and critical thinking skills. The Department has an active student society, Frenchsoc, as well as strong ties with the French community in Australia.

Pathways through the major

A major in French Studies requires at least 36 credit points from senior units of study equivalent to 6 senior units (ie not first year units) including at least 6 credit points at 3000 level (unit of study code starting with 3). All units of study in French Studies are worth 6 credit points.

All French language levels are tied to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is an international guideline for describing language competency. It describes language ability on a scale of levels from A1 (for beginners) up to C2 (for those who have achieved quasi-native competence in the language). It was created by the Council of Europe to provide a common basis for the elaboration of language courses and examinations and promote transparency and coherence in language education across the world. It is now a central point of reference for language learning and teaching across the world, for European as well as many non-European languages.

The CEFR has established general descriptions of language ability in the four competencies (writing, speaking, listening and reading).

The Department of French Studies has adapted the CEFR language descriptors and adjusted all language units of study to correspond to internationally recognised standards.

Placement of incoming students

Beginner stream
If you have never done French or have studied French for three years or less at junior high school (up to year 10) you should enrol in FRNC1601: Junior French 1 Beginners. Entry level less than CEFR A1.

Intermediate stream
If you have completed HSC Beginners or have obtained less than 75% in HSC Continuers you should enrol in FRNC1621: Junior French 3. Entry level CEFR A1+.

If your mark in HSC Continuers is 75-79% Continuers you should enrol in FRNC2623: Senior French 5 (second year intermediate): Entry level CEFR A2+.

Advanced stream
If you have obtained 80-94 in HSC Continuers or have done both French Continuers + Extension and achieved less than 90% in both, i.e. less than Band 6 Continuers and Band E4 Extension or IB Grade 4-6, you should enrol in FRNC1631: Junior French 5. Entry Level CEFR A2+.

If you have obtained International Baccalaureate Standard or Higher Level (Grade 7) or French Continuers (95+) or French Continuers (Band 6) plus Extension (Band 4) you should enrol in FRNC2633: Senior French 9. Entry level B1+.

Native speakers
Native speakers will normally be placed in senior cultural units on a case-by-case basis according to their overall level of proficiency. If you do not fall easily into one of the categories above, you will need to contact the undergraduate coordinator so that your level can be assessed.

Please note: A ‘gap’ year after Year 12 does not normally affect placement.

Requirements for a major

Beginner stream
To complete their major, students in the Beginner Stream must include the following units of study: language unit FRNC3606 (Senior French 4) and cultural unit FRNC2626 (Texte & Société 2: Théâtre), or equivalent units completed while on exchange.

Your CEFR level at graduation will be: B1+

At CEFR B1 level: Students can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. They can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken. They can produce simple connected text on topics, which are familiar or of personal interest. They can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Intermediate stream
To complete their major, students in the Intermediate Stream must include the following units of study: practical language unit FRNC3626 (Senior French 8) and unit FRNC2628 (French Contemporary Text & Culture), or equivalent units completed whilst on exchange.

Your CEFR level at graduation will be: B2+.

At CEFR B2 level: Students can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. They can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. They can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Advanced Stream
To complete their major, students in the Advanced Stream must include FRNC3634 (Senior French 10) or equivalent units completed whilst on exchange.

Your CEFR level at graduation will be: C1.

At CEFR C1 level: Students can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. They can express themselves fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. They can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. They can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Students enrolled in the Beginner or Intermediate stream who obtain 90% or more in language units in their first or second year of study may be able to ‘fast track’ to a higher language level. Please consult your unit of study coordinator or the undergraduate coordinator for advice.

Pathways towards the major (with CEFR levels)
Year of study Beginner language stream Intermediate language stream Advanced language stream
Year 1

FRNC1601 and FRNC1602

  • CEFR A1+

FRNC1621 and FRNC1622

  • CEFR A2+

FRNC1631 and FRNC1632

  • CEFR B1+
Year 2

FRNC2603 and FRNC2604

  • CEFR A2+

FRNC2623 and FRNC2624

  • CEFR B1+


  • CEFR B2+
Year 3

FRNC3605 and FRNC3606

  • CEFR B1+

FRNC3625 and FRNC3626

  • CEFR B2+


  • CEFR C1

Please note: the CEFR levels are minimum attainment levels at the end of semester.

More information on the CEFR at


After completion of their major, students may qualify for honours regardless of the language level at which they commenced. Admission to honours requires completion of 48 senior credit points (equivalent to 8 senior units) with an average grade of 70 percent or above.

  • Students in the Beginner Stream must include FRNC2626, or equivalent exchange units plus two optional 2000 units.
  • Students in the Intermediate Stream must include FRNC3626 and at least two 2000 level Advanced cultural units or equivalent exchange units.
  • Students in the Advanced Stream must include FRNC 3634 and at least one second 3000 level Advanced cultural unit or equivalent exchange units.

It is strongly recommended that all intending Honours students enrol in FRNC2666 (Research in French & Francophone Studies) and complete at least one semester exchange in a French-speaking country.

Departmental scholarships are available on a competitive basis to all honours students.
Contact the honours coordinator at

Contact/further information

Department website:
The departmental website offers a list of Academic Coordinators.