French and Contemporary Chinese Studies BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons French and Contemporary Chinese Studies
UCAS code
4 years full-time/year 3 out (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
B in French at A level 
IB score
32; 5 in French at Higher Level or 6 at Standard Level (B Programme)  
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
20 (across RT11, RT21, RT71 and RT41)


This course offers the opportunity to study the two very different, but complementary cultures of France and contemporary China.
Read full overview

While a great deal of attention in the western media in recent years has focused on the arrival of China as a significant player on the global stage, it is easily forgotten that France is still a leading force in world politics. This course offers you the opportunity to study these two very different, but in some ways complementary cultures and to begin to understand how they stand as counterpoints to 'Anglo-Saxon monoculturalism'. You will normally devote half your time to each discipline. You will follow core language modules in French and Mandarin and will also select optional modules covering a wide range of topics in the fields of Chinese and French literature, history, society and linguistics.

Year one 

In French, in addition to core modules in the French language, you take optional modules in reading a variety of French texts (the novel, poetry, film, for example), contemporary French politics, economics and society, French history or French linguistics.

In Chinese you begin a structured course in Mandarin Chinese (to lead you from beginners' stage to final degree level) and take optional modules in Chinese culture and institutions.

Year two

You consolidate your language studies and study a choice of modules offering further broad coverage of both subjects.

Year three

This year is spent abroad. For French, you can follow a programme of studies in a higher education institution, work as an assistant in a school, or take up a work placement in France or a Francophone country.

For Contemporary Chinese Studies, you have the opportunity to learn about Mandarin and Chinese culture by spending a semester at our campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our Year Abroad page.

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies  statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.

Year four

In both fields, you will perfect your command of both languages and their uses in increasingly sophisticated contexts and study optional modules covering a wide range of topics in the fields of Chinese and French literature, history, society and linguistics.

More information 

See also the Modern Languages and Cultures website.

Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including B in French at A level

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules
French 1

You’ll develop your understanding of the French language including grammar, written expression, aural and oral skills. Three hours per week will be spent in lectures, workshops, and oral classes with a native speaker studying for this module.


Introduction to French and Francophone studies

You will receive a firm grounding in the structures of French through the core language module. You will also follow a core module 'Introduction to French and Francophone Studies' which will prepare you for studying the range of topics and skills you will develop in your degree course. You will also take additional modules in French literature and the history and politics of contemporary France.



Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1A

This module provides you with a foundation in Chinese phonetics, grammar and vocabulary in order to develop your competence in Mandarin Chinese. The focus is on communicative competence in both spoken and written language, and you will begin thorough training in use of the Mandarin Chinese script. As well as equipping you with skills in the language, the module also informs you about Chinese culture and society.

Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1B
This module builds on the knowledge you acquired in semester 1, introducing post-elementary grammatical structures and the phonology of Mandarin Chinese. You will learn to write notes, simple letters and a diary, as well as to use more diverse basic vocabulary for social and everyday situations. You will continue to expand your knowledge of contemporary society and culture.



France: History and Identity
The module aims to introduce students to the course of French history since the late Middle Ages through the study of a series of historical figures, their times and lives, how their 'stories' are written and woven into the fabric of 'le roman de la nation' (the national story) and how they have been appropriated to serve a range of different ends. It will also introduce students to the iconography and visual manifestations of the French historical landscape.
Introduction to French Literature: Landmarks in Narrative

This module aims to introduce students to the critical study of French narrative, covering key examples of novels from the seventeenth century to the present. In studying each text we will focus on (a) understanding the text within its historical context, and (b) developing critical approaches to the text. The module will develop students’ key skills in literary study, from the basics of understanding a text with unfamiliar syntax and vocabulary, to close reading and the application of complex literary theories.

Contemporary France

This module will focus on a selection of themes: French political institutions, with particular emphasis on the presidency; political parties in France; Immigration and identity, including questions of identity in contemporary French culture.

Introduction to French Literature: Representations of Paris

This module aims to introduce students to the comparative study of literature and culture, inviting students to consider how Paris is represented in a range of texts (poetic, narrative and filmic) in the modern period (post-1800). Students will learn reading techniques adapted to different genres and media, and to consider representations of the city within their broader social, historical and critical contexts.


Introduction to Contemporary China

This is an introductory course designed to provide students with an overview of contemporary China and help students establish a foundation of knowledge and skills to pursue more advanced studies of China in their later years of study. You will examine a variety of topics such as Chinese economy and politics, security and foreign relations, and Chinese media since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 with particular attention paid to the changes in China since 1978. For this module you will have one two-hour lecture each week.


China: Civilisations, Cultures and Societies

This module allows you to critically engage with current and past debates around the nature of Chinese 'culture' and 'civilisation'. It introduces some key ideas in the study of Chinese society and culture, such as Confucianism, ancestor worship, patriarchy, folklore, Chinese 'ethnicity', literati culture and diaspora, thus providing a conceptual basis for material covered in modules at higher levels.

  • Approaches to Contemporary Chinese Studies

This is an introductory course designed to provide students with appropriate study skills, familiarity with resources, an understanding of the methodological approaches used in studying contemporary China, to develop students' understanding of how to use critical approaches to study all aspects of contemporary Chinese society. Topics include: understanding interdisciplinary approaches, presentation skills and essay writing, familiarity with e-learning resources among others. For this module you will have one one-hour lecture and one one-hour seminar each week. 

Typical year two modules
French 2

Building upon the language module studied in Year One, you will further improve your skills in reading, listening, speaking, creative writing and translation. You will spend two hours per week in workshops and one hour in oral classes with a native speaker for this module.



Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level 2A

This module consolidates the skills you have acquired in the first year and further develops your oral and written communicative ability in Mandarin, introducing its use in more complex situations and broadening your vocabulary. A range of activities, including listening exercises, discussion, reading comprehension and producing short written texts, will improve your fluency and confidence.

Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level 2B
This module further develops your use of and confidence with Mandarin in increasingly complex situations, in preparation for your year abroad. Teaching continues to focus on the four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and takes place in Mandarin wherever possible. By the end of the module you will have firm knowledge of Mandarin at intermediate level.


Francophone Africa: Exploring Contemporary Issues through Culture

Through literature, film and popular culture, you will explore a range of political and social issues relevant to contemporary sub-Saharan Francophone Africa. Spending around two hours a week in lectures and seminars, you will be given an overview of the history of the French language in Africa and introduced to the range of varieties of French spoken there today.

Introduction to Modern French Poetry

You will be introduced to three major figures in modern French poetry (Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Apollinaire) and to the major formal developments in poetry in the period 1850-1914. Learning how to analyse, interpret and write commentaries on poetry, you will spend around two hours per week studying in lectures and seminars.


Language and Politics in 21st Century French

The module will focus on the interplay between language and politics in 21st-century French. It will address issues of ideology, identity, and power in French-speaking countries from a linguistic perspective. Students will examine the driving forces behind the invention and the preservation of standard French, the role of norms and variation in identity politics, and the role of language choices in current political debates in France. Students will apply the principles and methods of sociolinguistics and cognitive linguistics to a variety of recent textual and audiovisual documents, and digital data from TV programmes, news broadcasts and interviews to radio podcasts, corpora based on social media and online newspapers.


French Cinema – The New Wave

This module is designed to introduce students to a particular period of French cinema by offering a detailed study of the New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s, focusing in particular on the films of Godard, Truffaut, Resnais and Chabrol. As the module will show, New Wave film-makers often employed a variety of new and challenging formal techniques in order to make films that reflected an emergent, modern, iconoclastic sensibility in post-war France. For these reasons, the module combines a contextual approach with introductory teaching in film analysis.


Surrealist Photography in France

This module will introduce students to surrealist photography in inter-war France. Through close study of key texts, including André Breton’s ‘Manifeste du surréalisme’, alongside the work of male and female photographers associated with the surrealist movement, such as Man Ray, Maurice Tabard, Claude Cahun and Florence Henri, students will engage with the theoretical and aesthetic concepts of surrealism and related aspects of photographic history and technique. Wider socio-cultural and historical issues surrealist photography raises will be addressed, together with visual analysis and text-and-image relations.  


The Rise of Modern China

In this module you will study the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. You will focus in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society. In this module you will have a two-hour lecture each week.

  • International Political Economy

The study of International Political Economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system. You will learn the main approaches to International Political Economy, related to a conceptual as well as empirical engagement with the history of, and recent changes in, areas such as international trade, global finance, transnational production and development related to the North-South problematic. For this module you will have one two-hour lecture and one one-hour seminar each week.


Chinese Business Law

The module aims to provide an overview of the development of Chinese business law in the context of economic globalization and in particular of China's WTO membership. Topics covered business regulation in China and China's WTO membership; the Chinese legal system, contract law and company law and corporate governance in China, and the impact of China’s integration into economic globalisation. 

Social Change and Public Policy in China's Reform Era

In this module you will learn how the Chinese central government has responded to socio-economic changes by issuing a number of key policy initiatives, most notably in the field of social security, health, education, labour, innovation and the environment. In the first part of the module participants will be sensitized about the interplay between socio-economic transformation, administrative reform and public policy making during China's reform era (1978). In the second part of the module students will learn about the expanded spaces for participatory policy making in China by analysing case studies in all five substantive policy fields. As part of their course assignments students will be asked to write one 3,000 word essay and put insights into practice by developing group presentations on a selected public policy. 


Year three

This year is spent abroad. For French, you can follow a programme of studies in a higher education institution, work as an assistant in a school, or take up a work placement in France or a Francophone country.

For Contemporary Chinese Studies, you have the opportunity to learn about Mandarin and Chinese culture by spending a semester at our campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our  Year Abroad page.

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies  statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.
Typical year four modules
French 3

Building on the skills gained in Years One and Two, you will further develop your oral and written skills, translation into and out of French, creative writing in different registers, linguistic commentary and production of summaries, as well as perfecting your French grammar and vocabulary. In the course of this year-long module, you will spend two hours per week in language workshops and one hour in oral classes with a native speaker.



Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A

The final year Mandarin Chinese course will develop your communicative competence in Mandarin Chinese in both spoken and written language to a high level. The module follows on from your work during your time abroad, enabling you to further improve your ability to employ your language skills in everyday formal and informal situations and across a broad range of contemporary applications.

Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3B
This module follows on from Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A, further consolidating your grammatical knowledge and your skills in expressing yourself in different real-life situations. You will improve your abilities to communicate in a range of registers and tackle issues involved in translating between Mandarin and English.


Citizenship, Ethnicity and National Identity in Post-War France

You will examine the range of social, political and philosophical questions raised by mass immigration to France in the post-war period. These questions will be tackled through historical analysis of patterns of migration and changing immigration policies, as well as through the study of relevant films, novels and theoretical texts. You will spend two hours each week in lectures and seminars studying this module.

Individual and Society

You will explore the ways in which French social theory and fiction have thought through the changing nature of the individual and the self in society. You will spend two hours in lectures and workshops each week studying this module. 

Contemporary Representations of Travel 

From tourism to exploration, from exile to migration, from pilgrimage to business travel, we will question the tacit ideologies found in contemporary travel discourses. The importance of this field has been steadily growing in between disciplines that range from literary studies to ethnography. The module will use these cross-cultural influences to create an arena in which to develop connections between key disciplines and different forms of arts such as literature, ethnography, films and photography. You will spend two hours a week in seminars for this module.


Subtitling and Dubbing from French into English

This module focuses on the theory and practice of two modes of audio-visual translation: subtitling and dubbing. The linguistic, technical, and cultural theoretical underpinnings of subtitling and dubbing from French into English will be examined in detail, and students will be able to put the theory into practice using professional dedicated software. 


The French avant-garde

This module will consider a series of avant-garde movements in France, from the late 19th century through to the middle of the 20th century. Students will look at each of these movements through a range of texts including manifestos, theoretical tracts, art criticism, poetry, plays and novels, as well as through film and the visual arts. The module will thus encourage a comparative and interdisciplinary approach. The first part of the module will consider the Symbolist movement that emerged in the 1880s, touching on the Nabi painters, free verse poetry and Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu roi. We will then consider Cubism and Futurism in the years running up to the First World War, focusing on the poetry and art criticism of Guillaume Apollinaire. In the second semester, we will look at Dada and Surrealism, including André Breton’s Nadja and various short films. In the final part of the module we will consider the impact of the Second World War on avant-garde cultural production, focusing on a novel by Georges Perec and a film by Chris Marker. Throughout the module, students will be asked to reflect critically on theories of modernism and avant-gardism, and to grasp a range of critical concepts used in the analysis of avant-garde works. We will also be relating avant-garde movements to their broader historical and cultural contexts, and querying in particular whether the avant-garde is always political - and if so, whether it is always associated with a progressive politics.


Francophone Writing in Canada

This module studies a selection of texts which have played a significant part in establishing a tradition of Canadian writing in French. The module includes texts by both Québécois and non-Québécois writers. The texts are studied in the context of the specific cultures to which they belong and of the reception they found. You will spend two hours a week in lectures and seminars for this module.

  • China from Revolution to Socialism

This module focuses on China from the Communist Revolution in the 1920s through the pre-reform era (1921-1978), examining how China was organised and governed, changes in rural and urban society, the family, the economy and the Chinese workplace under the socialist period (1949-1978). Major topics covered include:

  • The CCP's rise to power
  • The transformation of rural and urban society post-1949
  • The Great Leap Forward and subsequent famine
  • In-depth analysis of all phases of the Cultural Revolution
  • Return to power of the pragmatists and the beginning of reform
  • Changing views of Mao as a leader

China through Film and Literature

In this module you will first examine the close linkage between literature and cinema in China and the consequences and then explore trends in modern Chinese literature and cinema, with a primary focus on different genres and themes developed since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. By placing Chinese literature and film within their cultural, social and historical contexts, you will analyse, interpret and appreciate such phenomena. You will analyse individual texts in translation and films with English subtitles to increase your awareness of the major developments in literature and film as they are embedded in the wider changes in contemporary China. You will have one three-hour practical class each week studying this module.


Media and Communications in Globalising China

Media systems are critically important in any modern political system, and this module leads you directly to the heart of understanding how the media relates to contemporary society and politics in the People’s Republic of China. It introduces you to the unprecedented transformation in contemporary Chinese media and communication in the context of economic reforms, development of new media technologies and globalisation through a two hour weekly lecture.


Government and Politics of Taiwan and Hong Kong: Alternatives to Leninism

In this module you’ll learn about the two countries that choose a different pathway from mainland China whilst still under the leadership of the communist party. You’ll address a number of questions in order to gain a good understanding of the processes of these unique countries and be able to critically reflect on their differences with mainland China. You’ll have two hours of lectures weekly studying this module.

China's Political Economy

This module examines the interaction between politics and economy in China during the economic reform period from 1978 onward. Particular attention will be given to the progress and periods of China’s reform, the political context of major economic policies, reform of major aspects of the economy, evolution of economic institutions, as well as an overview of economic development in China prior to 1978. The module will highlight the role of the political factors and state policies in China’s economy, which is important for a good understanding of the reform and economic development in China. For this module you will have one two-hour lecture each week.

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies  statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.

Year abroad

One year is spent abroad. For French, you can follow a programme of studies in a higher education institution, work as an assistant in a school, or take up a work placement in France or a Francophone country.

For Contemporary Chinese Studies, you have the opportunity to learn about Mandarin and Chinese culture by spending a semester at our campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our Year Abroad page.



You will have developed a sophisticated level of written and spoken French and will be able to use the language with ease in professional and social settings. You will also have a good command of Mandarin. The experience of your year abroad will suggest to potential employers that you are adaptable and independent.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 94.2% of undergraduates in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,336 with the highest being £31,000.* 

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course contains a period of study or work abroad between the second and final year of the degree programme. Students' language skills and cultural understanding are assessed through a mix of presentations and written assignments upon their return to Nottingham.   

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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