French Studies

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

About the major

French is spoken by over 300 million people, and is an official language in 29 countries (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. Our graduates work in fields as diverse as international relations and trade, journalism, IT, teaching, 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 Introductory, Intermediate or Advanced stream, and there are options for ‘fast-tracking’ to a higher level if you do well. You will study French language and the history, societies, literatures and cultures of France and la Francophonie. In addition, you can spend a semester or a year on exchange in France, Switzerland or Canada.

Most teaching in the Department is in French, with content, class activities and assessment all adapted to your language level in each year of study. Our teaching is strongly focused on student participation and interaction, so that you develop autonomy as learners of French and as independent thinkers.

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 including at least 6 credit points at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for French Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

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

Placement of students in junior units of study (1000 level)

Introductory stream
Absolute beginners or people having 3 years or less Australian junior high school (up to year 10) education in French or equivalent enrol in FRNC1601: Junior French 1: Entry level less than CEFR A1.

Intermediate stream
Less than 75% in HSC continuers, or completed HSC beginners, or International baccalaureate Ab Initio Grades 4-6 or equivalent enrol in FRNC1621: Junior French 3: Entry level CEFR A1+.

75-79% in HSC Continuers and International Baccalaureate Ab Initio Grade 7 enrol in FRNC2623: Senior French 5: Entry level CEFR A2+.

Advanced stream
French Continuers (80-94%) or French Continuers + Extension (less than Band 6 Continuers + Band 4 Extension) or International baccalaureate Standard Level (less than Grade 7) or International baccalaureate Higher Level (Grade 4-5) enrol in FRNC1631: Junior French 5: Entry level CEFR A2+.

Students having obtained International baccalaureate Standard Level (Grade 7) or Higher Level (Grade 6-7), or French Continuers with 95% or more, or French Continuers + Extension (Band 6 + Band 4) enrol in FRNC2633: Senior French 9: Entry level B1+.

Background speakers
Background speakers will be placed on a case-by-case basis according to the level of school education in French.

Intermediate and Advanced language stream descriptions should not be confused with the Faculty descriptions of second and third year study (‘senior-intermediate’ and ‘senior-advanced’ respectively). The unit of study codes given above will indicate the right language level for you.

If you do not fall easily into one of the categories above, you will need to contact the coordinators of the relevant units of study so that your level can be assessed. This includes native speakers who have completed high school study in a French speaking country and students who have undertaken further study or work in a French speaking country, The Department reserves the right to place students according to their correct language level. Students will not be allowed to enrol in a lower level than their own language level.

Please note: A ‘gap’ year between the HSC or International baccalaureate exam and University entry does not normally affect placement. Students should ensure that their language skills remain active during this year.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

Introductory stream
In the Introductory Stream you must include the following units of study in your major: practical language unit FRNC3626 and culture unit FRNC2626 or equivalent exchange units. Your CEFR level at graduation will be: B2+.

Intermediate stream
In the Intermediate Stream you must include the following units of study in your major: practical language unit FRNC3626 and culture unit FRNC2626 or equivalent exchange units. Your CEFR level at graduation will be: B2+.

Advanced Stream
In the Advanced Stream you must include FRNC3634 and at least one 3000 level advanced culture option (FRNC3652, 3672, 3684, 3686, 3690 or 3693) or equivalent exchange units. (NB to enrol in FRNC3634, advanced students must have completed FRNC2633 (or equivalent) and two 2000 level advanced culture units.) Your CEFR level at graduation will be: C1+.

Students enrolled in the Introductory or Intermediate stream who obtain 90% or more in practical 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.

Sample pathways
Year of study Introductory 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, FRNC2604, FRNC2625 and FRNC2626

  • CEFR A2+

FRNC2623, FRNC2624, FRNC2625 and FRNC2626

  • CEFR B1+

FRNC2633, FRNC2671*, FRNC2657*, FRNC2644*

  • CEFR B2+
Year 3

FRNC3625 and FRNC3626

  • CEFR B2+

FRNC3625 and FRNC3626

  • CEFR B2+

FRNC3634, FRNC3684*

  • CEFR C1+

* The culture units are indicative only for advanced second and third year, there are other possible choices.


All students may qualify for fourth year 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 a Credit average or above. This requirement includes completion of the major, and:

  • Students in the Introductory Stream must include FRNC2626 or equivalent exchange units.
  • Students in the Intermediate Stream must include at least two 2000 level Advanced culture units or equivalent exchange units.
  • Students in the Advanced Stream must include at least a second 3000 level Advanced culture unit or equivalent exchange units.

It is strongly recommended that all intending Honours students complete at least one semester exchange in a French-speaking country.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

Contact/further information

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