Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (French)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • French Language 2 (FREN2051) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative AND French Syntax and Vocabulary (FREN2081).


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: French Language 4 (FREN3041) or French Language 4 following Year Abroad (FREN3351) . Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore two formative moments in the history of the lexicon of the French language (16th and late 20th-21st centuries) which saw French and its speakers in a situation of conflict and competition with the Italian and English languages.


  • Topics to be covered include: 16th century: Franco-Italian relations; the development of a French national vernacular able to rival classical and contemporary languages; the ‘defence’ of French against perceived foreign influence; 20th and 21st centuries: the state-sponsored campaign to resist the influx of anglicisms; polemical attacks on US political and cultural influence during the Cold War; recent linguistic legislation (e.g. the Loi Toubon of 1994).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • detailed knowledge of changes occurring in the French lexicon as a consequence of lexical borrowing from Italian (16th century) and English (20th and 21st centuries)
  • familiarity with relevant theories of lexical borrowing and code-switching
  • understanding and appreciation of the techniques used by linguistic purists in polemical texts
  • understanding of the role played by the French language in the formation and maintenance of French national identity
Subject-specific Skills:
  • analytical and critical skills deriving from close reading of relevant texts
  • linguistic skills, including the ability to understand and appreciate 16th-century French
  • ability to conduct comparative analyses and to take the ‘long view’ when appreciating the relevance of early modern material to an understanding of the present
  • ability to synthesise and critique secondary material
Key Skills:
  • critical and analytical
  • essay- and commentary-writing
  • structuring of arguments
  • independent learning and research

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Weekly lectures will provide theoretical, linguistic and historical starting points for close engagement with the primary texts in seminars, as well as offering an overview of previous work in the area.
  • Fortnightly seminars will offer the opportunity for guided close reading of extracts from the primary texts allowing for the development of appropriate analytical and linguistic skills, supplemented by tutor- and student-led sessions designed to foster group discussion of relevant issues and to develop comparative analyses.
  • Summative assignments will test analytical and linguistic skills (commentary), comparative and conceptual/historical analyses (essay), and independent learning and research (both).
  • The two-hour written examination will test analytical, linguistic, comparative and synthesising skills, as well as independent learning and research.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 1,800 words 100% No
Component: Commentary Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary 1,200 words 100% No
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100% No

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University