Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module FREN1031: Reading French Literature

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (French)

FREN1031: Reading French Literature

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 105 Location Durham


  • Grade A in French at A level or an equivalent qualification


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: French Language 1 (FREN1011). Others: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Through the study of representative works drawn from different periods of French literature, the principal aims of the course are: to introduce students to the art and methods of reading and interpreting texts belonging to the standard generic types (poetry, theatre, fiction).
  • to introduce students to the practice of close reading of literary texts through the exercise of literary commentary.


  • This module, which is taught and assessed in English, offers an introduction to the study of French literary texts from a range of historical periods (medieval to contemporary) and different genres. The module is designed to improve your fluency in reading French and to introduce you to strategies for reading literature alongside critical theory: you will become familiar with techniques of literary analysis by reading the texts alongside the work of theorists such as Roland Barthes, Judith Butler, Edward Said. In so doing, you will explore questions of gender and ethnicity, as well as thinking about French culture in transnational perspective, for example by exploring interactions between France and territories that lie beyond its borders. These may include e.g. the Celtic lands in writings from the Middle Ages, or France's former colonial territories in contemporary postcolonial and francophone writing. This module introduces knowledge and skills that are central to Modern Languages and Cultures as a coherent field of study. Its design reflects a commitment to diversity in its resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will develop knowledge of different periods and genres of French literature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will improve skills in reading French and in analysing literary texts.
Key Skills:
  • The development of general written and oral communication skills.
  • Skills in the acquisition and interpretation of information through reading and research.

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

  • This module is taught by means of a weekly lecture and fortnightly seminar. Students are required to attend all lectures and seminars and are expected to prepare themselves for classes and participate actively in discussions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 Hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Commentary Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary 1,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Exam Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam 2 Hours 100% Yes

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