French Studies Year Abroad

Single Honours students of French all spend a year in France, normally at a French University. We feel that the university 'experience' in France allows students to be with people their own age, thus facilitating social contacts; immerses them in a Francophone environment; and enhances the learning experience and cultural sensitivity founded in years one and two of the Single Honours course.

Students on other degree programmes such as Joint Honours, European Studies and BA Modern Languages may spend some or all of their Year Abroad at a French university. Combinations followed through these programmes dictate the nature and location of Year Abroad study.

Students on 'With French' programmes spend their Year Abroad in France at a university or an institution with particular expertise in their main subject of study.

Students may also spend their Year Abroad as a Language Assistant in a French School (placement organised via the British Council) or in a work placement, providing it is approved by the Department by October of their second year. Any work placement must be organized independently by the student concerned who will also be required to submit formal pieces of assessed academic work.

At present, we have existing ERASMUS exchange agreements for BA students with sixteen French Universities, Aix-Marseille I (8 places), Besançon (8), Bordeaux III (2), Caen (2), Clermont-Ferrand (4), Dijon (4), Grenoble III (6), Liège (Belgium) (4), Lyon II (5), Montpellier (8), Nancy (6), Nantes (6), Paris XII (5), Paris VII (4), Poitiers (4), Strasbourg Marc Bloch (4), Strasbourg Robert Schumann (4 - reserved for European Studies students) and Toulouse II - Le Mirail (6), which guarantee a place at the university.  At McGill (Canada), 3 places are available to JH American and Canadian Studies/French students only and are extremely competitive.

Students in other faculties may also be involved in exchanges and study periods abroad. These are administered by students' home faculties.

Interactive map

These are the French universities with which the department has developed links:

View French Universities in a larger map

Briefing timetable

The students going abroad have an initial briefing meeting at the start of their second year, at which they are given their first briefing document. This gives details of where they can apply, alerts them to the kind of documentation they will need to send or take to France , and indicates how they will need to go about securing accommodation. It also sets up a series of deadlines concerning Year Abroad preparations.

Before students make their choices in November, a second briefing meeting is held, at which they are able to meet with fourth-year students who completed their Year Abroad during the previous session. This is a valuable opportunity for students to find out more about the towns, cities, and universities that interest them. Students wishing to attend university in a French-speaking country will be notified of their allocation by the end of Semester 1.  

Early in Semester 2 of the second year, a third briefing aims to discuss 'préinscription' procedures with the students, and to assist them in completing any documentation required by their allocated institution. At this briefing, all students are invited to purchase their own copy of Studying and Working in France, by Russell Cousins, Ron Hallmark and Ian Pickup. This contains a wealth of useful information not only about academic matters but also about practical concerns, such as work placements, accommodation, student welfare, rent rebates etc.

The final Year Abroad briefing is held in June. At this, students are given the final briefing document, which explains in detail matters such as registration procedures.

There is also a year abroad discussion page on The French virtual notice board on WebCT (The Universities Virtual Learning Environment - only accessible to registered students) to which students are invited to contribute and through which they may ask questions or contact the department or their fellow students. It is hoped that this will become a valuable and up-to-date source of information. Queries relating to the Year Abroad may also be addressed to the Year Abroad secretaries at

Photograph of students on their year abroad
[Image - Year Abroad students in Toulouse for a tutor visit]

Academic requirements and monitoring

Attendance at a French-speaking University is a requirement for all Single Honours students, and for those Joint Honours, BA Modern Languages, European Studies and major French students opting to spend some or all of their year abroad in France. Attendance/performance is monitored via the 'attestation' system. These are documents which the students bring back from France and which are scrutinized by French Department tutors. 'Attestation' documents, before they are submitted to the Birmingham French Department, must first have been approved and duly signed by tutors in French universities. They indicate attendance and performance levels in 'partiels' and end-of-year examinations. In exceptional circumstances, students who have been wholly unsatisfactory have been required to take a resit examination in Birmingham in September.

Students of the Department are required to submit to the department an extended essay in English and a piece of work in French which are marked for progression to Year 4.

Students of the Department are normally registered in Lettres Modernes.

Academic and pastoral visits

The foreign institutions which receive Birmingham French Department students are visited on a rolling basis by Birmingham tutors.

Fees and grants

Placement Academic Year 2014-2015

Home students spending their whole year abroad in 2014–15 on placement through the Erasmus Mobility Programme will be required to pay 15% of the normal tuition fees during that year.

Please note that international students on a year abroad in 2013–14 are required to pay 50% of the normal tuition fee. The Erasmus grant is available to students undertaking their year abroad within Europe (both study and work/teaching assistantships). This is intended to help you to meet the extra costs of studying abroad, and is not intended to cover all your expenses for the year abroad.