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Bristol for Politics and French

Hi. I got accepted to study Politics and French but want to find out what is the language department like. Anyone studying this particular course? What is your opinion? How many contact hours do you get?
Reply 1
Original post by jolark13
Hi. I got accepted to study Politics and French but want to find out what is the language department like. Anyone studying this particular course? What is your opinion? How many contact hours do you get?

Hi, and congrats! Yes, I'm in my final year studying Politics and French at Bristol. You'll find that not a lot of people study this exact course (I know of maybe six others doing it?) so I'm quite surprised that I saw this thread :smile:

The contact hours are quite low - I can't remember how many I had in first year, but I had about eight in second year and maximum eleven this year. You're expected to be quite independent as is typical at university level, and despite the low contact hours you will still be busy as there is a lot of reading and French language preparation to do. I'd say the workload is manageable and I've rarely felt overwhelmed with too many deadlines at once, but it's still a challenging course and it's not easy to get a first. I've been happy with the majority of my lecturers though and the modules are very interesting. There is quite a lot of choice in terms of optional modules, particularly in Politics (including lots of IR-related modules). And Politics and French students can also choose not to do a dissertation which is a bonus.

In terms of the two departments, I'd say they are both very high quality apart from a few exceptions. The languages department is a bit more controversial. There was a bit of a furore over the marking standards of French translations recently and there is a feeling among a lot of us that it depends what professor you get as to whether you will do well in assignments. I don't have many friends who study Politics so I'm not sure what the general feeling is, but I have been happy with that side of the course overall. All of my friends study French and I've found that it's a much more close-knit cohort than Politics, especially since you have the shared year abroad experience.

Overall I've really enjoyed the course and I have no regrets. I'd say the best aspect is the year abroad in third year - you have the choice to study in France, Switzerland, Canada or francophone Africa and/or do a work placement in any francophone country. I studied and worked in Paris in the end and absolutely loved it. Your French will also improve beyond your expectations.

I'd say most of my complaints about Bristol concern the university/city itself, the course was pretty much the best part.

Please feel free to DM me or ask any other questions, I'm a bit busy with final coursework right now but I'd be happy to help.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 2
Original post by MJ1148
Hi, and congrats! Yes, I'm in my final year studying Politics and French at Bristol. You'll find that not a lot of people study this exact course (I know of maybe six others doing it?) so I'm quite surprised that I saw this thread :smile:
The contact hours are quite low - I can't remember how many I had in first year, but I had about eight in second year and maximum eleven this year. You're expected to be quite independent as is typical at university level, and despite the low contact hours you will still be busy as there is a lot of reading and French language preparation to do. I'd say the workload is manageable and I've rarely felt overwhelmed with too many deadlines at once, but it's still a challenging course and it's not easy to get a first. I've been happy with the majority of my lecturers though and the modules are very interesting. There is quite a lot of choice in terms of optional modules, particularly in Politics (including lots of IR-related modules). And Politics and French students can also choose not to do a dissertation which is a bonus.
In terms of the two departments, I'd say they are both very high quality apart from a few exceptions. The languages department is a bit more controversial. There was a bit of a furore over the marking standards of French translations recently and there is a feeling among a lot of us that it depends what professor you get as to whether you will do well in assignments. I don't have many friends who study Politics so I'm not sure what the general feeling is, but I have been happy with that side of the course overall. All of my friends study French and I've found that it's a much more close-knit cohort than Politics, especially since you have the shared year abroad experience.
Overall I've really enjoyed the course and I have no regrets. I'd say the best aspect is the year abroad in third year - you have the choice to study in France, Switzerland, Canada or francophone Africa and/or do a work placement in any francophone country. I studied and worked in Paris in the end and absolutely loved it. Your French will also improve beyond your expectations.
I'd say most of my complaints about Bristol concern the university/city itself, the course was pretty much the best part.
Please feel free to DM me or ask any other questions, I'm a bit busy with final coursework right now but I'd be happy to help.

Thank you ever so much for your reply. I’m very excited about doing the course but need to choose between Warwick and Bristol and can’t decide at the moment. Is Bristol really that expensive to live in? Also in your final year can you choose to do your dissertation in politics if you want to or does it have to be French ? How difficult is it to secure a job after this particular course? Thanks a lot for your insight.
Reply 3
Original post by jolark13
Thank you ever so much for your reply. I’m very excited about doing the course but need to choose between Warwick and Bristol and can’t decide at the moment. Is Bristol really that expensive to live in? Also in your final year can you choose to do your dissertation in politics if you want to or does it have to be French ? How difficult is it to secure a job after this particular course? Thanks a lot for your insight.

I also applied for Warwick, I liked the look of the university when I visited but ultimately decided against it because it kind of felt like it was in the middle of nowhere… I’d say Warwick has the advantage of being a campus university and while some people prefer the structure of a city university like Bristol, it can be quite isolating.

Yes, Bristol is an expensive place to live - it’s actually the most expensive place to live outside of London. Finding accommodation here is not for the weak and landlords do take advantage of students so it is often poor quality for the price you pay. I don’t know what the housing situation is like in Coventry though.

I didn’t choose to do a dissertation myself, but if you do one I’m pretty sure you can decide whether you want it to be Politics or French-related (or both). There’s actually a politics module called “Investigating society” about gathering data and stuff that you have to take in second year if you want to do a diss.

Regarding jobs, I can’t help much because I haven’t graduated yet and I’m going to do a master’s - there may be statistics about this on the course website. With any humanities degree it’s always going to be a bit trickier to secure a job than if you do STEM, but you just have to be proactive with finding internships and developing those soft skills.

Obviously you’ll leave the course with at least C1 level French which is a great skill, and you’ll have the chance to do a work placement on your year abroad which will look amazing on your CV. Bristol is apparently one of the top targeted universities by employers and though I haven’t found them to be much help where careers are concerned, they do have a careers service if you want someone to look over your CV or interview practice and they organise careers fairs.

Hope this helps!
Reply 4
Thank you so much for your help. All the information that you have posted echoes everything I have heard from other people but it’s great that I could find it all out from someone who’s actually studying the same course I’ve chosen. Ultimately it’s down to whether I can see myself living in a city like Bristol or living on a campus. Your information will definitely help. Thanks a lot and good luck with your masters.
Reply 5
Original post by MJ1148
Hi, and congrats! Yes, I'm in my final year studying Politics and French at Bristol. You'll find that not a lot of people study this exact course (I know of maybe six others doing it?) so I'm quite surprised that I saw this thread :smile:
The contact hours are quite low - I can't remember how many I had in first year, but I had about eight in second year and maximum eleven this year. You're expected to be quite independent as is typical at university level, and despite the low contact hours you will still be busy as there is a lot of reading and French language preparation to do. I'd say the workload is manageable and I've rarely felt overwhelmed with too many deadlines at once, but it's still a challenging course and it's not easy to get a first. I've been happy with the majority of my lecturers though and the modules are very interesting. There is quite a lot of choice in terms of optional modules, particularly in Politics (including lots of IR-related modules). And Politics and French students can also choose not to do a dissertation which is a bonus.
In terms of the two departments, I'd say they are both very high quality apart from a few exceptions. The languages department is a bit more controversial. There was a bit of a furore over the marking standards of French translations recently and there is a feeling among a lot of us that it depends what professor you get as to whether you will do well in assignments. I don't have many friends who study Politics so I'm not sure what the general feeling is, but I have been happy with that side of the course overall. All of my friends study French and I've found that it's a much more close-knit cohort than Politics, especially since you have the shared year abroad experience.
Overall I've really enjoyed the course and I have no regrets. I'd say the best aspect is the year abroad in third year - you have the choice to study in France, Switzerland, Canada or francophone Africa and/or do a work placement in any francophone country. I studied and worked in Paris in the end and absolutely loved it. Your French will also improve beyond your expectations.
I'd say most of my complaints about Bristol concern the university/city itself, the course was pretty much the best part.
Please feel free to DM me or ask any other questions, I'm a bit busy with final coursework right now but I'd be happy to help.

Hi there, Can I ask if you started your French course from beginner level or post- A level? Im doing A level in Spanish so French would be a new language for me. Also, have you ever felt you missed out on doing more IR and politics modules by doing more French. Did you find the French modules interesting? Thanks for your help.
Reply 6
Original post by jolark13
Hi there, Can I ask if you started your French course from beginner level or post- A level? Im doing A level in Spanish so French would be a new language for me. Also, have you ever felt you missed out on doing more IR and politics modules by doing more French. Did you find the French modules interesting? Thanks for your help.

Hi, yes I did French A-Level, so I'm not really aware of what the beginner (ab initio) French course is like. Spanish is a good language to have a basis in if you want to learn French though.

I think one of the strengths of doing a joint-honours course is that you are learning so many different things. I don't think I've ever felt that I was really missing out on anything by not being able to study more politics modules. In fact, I think I might have been a bit bored had I only chosen to study straight politics, but who knows.

I have found all the French modules interesting, but personally I have preferred the literature-based ones over the historical ones. If you want to study a politics-related module on the French side, they usually approach it from a historical perspective. So I always chose them for the political aspect but found them a bit dry and difficult at times.

I thought you might find it interesting to know what modules are currently running in second and fourth year (though you may have different ones at beginner level):

Second year

Race, Gender, and Intersectionality in Twenty-First Century France: Cultural Production, Politics, and Identity

Introduction to French Cinema

French Thought

Burning Books

France during the Second World War: culture, politics and society

Paris: 1857-1897

French Fiction: from Realism to the Twenty-first Century


Fourth year

Prestige, soft power and diplomatie d’influence: Exporting French culture in the world from the1870s to the present

Les Misérables: Readings and Receptions

Intellectuals and the Media in France

Me, Myself, and I: The Essais of Michel de Montaigne

French for Business and Enterprise

Surrealism: Pleasure and Provocation in 1920s Textual and Visual Culture

Francophone Women Directors: Documentary Filmmaking

Aesthetics of Revolution

Political Cultures of Early Twentieth-Century France

Reply 7
Original post by MJ1148
Hi, and congrats! Yes, I'm in my final year studying Politics and French at Bristol. You'll find that not a lot of people study this exact course (I know of maybe six others doing it?) so I'm quite surprised that I saw this thread :smile:
The contact hours are quite low - I can't remember how many I had in first year, but I had about eight in second year and maximum eleven this year. You're expected to be quite independent as is typical at university level, and despite the low contact hours you will still be busy as there is a lot of reading and French language preparation to do. I'd say the workload is manageable and I've rarely felt overwhelmed with too many deadlines at once, but it's still a challenging course and it's not easy to get a first. I've been happy with the majority of my lecturers though and the modules are very interesting. There is quite a lot of choice in terms of optional modules, particularly in Politics (including lots of IR-related modules). And Politics and French students can also choose not to do a dissertation which is a bonus.
In terms of the two departments, I'd say they are both very high quality apart from a few exceptions. The languages department is a bit more controversial. There was a bit of a furore over the marking standards of French translations recently and there is a feeling among a lot of us that it depends what professor you get as to whether you will do well in assignments. I don't have many friends who study Politics so I'm not sure what the general feeling is, but I have been happy with that side of the course overall. All of my friends study French and I've found that it's a much more close-knit cohort than Politics, especially since you have the shared year abroad experience.
Overall I've really enjoyed the course and I have no regrets. I'd say the best aspect is the year abroad in third year - you have the choice to study in France, Switzerland, Canada or francophone Africa and/or do a work placement in any francophone country. I studied and worked in Paris in the end and absolutely loved it. Your French will also improve beyond your expectations.
I'd say most of my complaints about Bristol concern the university/city itself, the course was pretty much the best part.
Please feel free to DM me or ask any other questions, I'm a bit busy with final coursework right now but I'd be happy to help.
Hi there,
Thank you for all your replies. I’m thinking now of forming Bristol but wanted to double check with you again the French side of the course. You mentioned in your post that you that there was a problem with one of the French professors. Would you be able to give more information if I DM you?
Reply 8
Original post by jolark13
Hi there,
Thank you for all your replies. I’m thinking now of forming Bristol but wanted to double check with you again the French side of the course. You mentioned in your post that you that there was a problem with one of the French professors. Would you be able to give more information if I DM you?

Hi, I don't think the problem was serious enough for you to consider not firming Bristol, but yes I'd be happy to provide more information in DMs :smile:

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