A-Z of Degrees: French ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You Pick the Right Course. This Week: French

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What do you come out with? BA

Why do it? To perfect your French and learn more about the culture so that you can work for a company that trades with France or so that you can go and work in la belle France.

What's it about? French, silly. You study the language, literature, society and culture of France. In the first year at Sussex, you have to read Racine and Moliere. At Bristol you can take options on migration, chansons francais and French history. The degree is no longer the long slog through French literature that it used to be. Manchester's degree includes urban and performance studies and women's writing. Lots of students now combine French with another subject - another language or business studies.

How long is a degree? Four years. One year is spent in France though at Sussex you may instead be able to wangle a year on the French island of Reunion or Martinique.

What are the students like? They love the French, their food, countryside, history, cinema and couture. The majority are women. They are good at their work, adaptable and visually literate. At Birkbeck they are adults in work so they want value for money. And they're tenacious, highly motivated and open-minded.

How is it packaged? At Royal Holloway 80 per cent is by examination and 20 per cent by coursework. At Birkbeck the ratio is 75:25 for language units and 60:40 for non-language units.

How cool is it? Not as cool as it used to be, though it's more popular than any other language. French single honours is going out of fashion. Probably because students prefer to combine it with economics or management or European studies to give it more of a vocational edge.

What A-level subjects do you need? French, and any other relevant subject e.g. another foreign language, history and English. Bristol doesn't accept A-level general studies. Birkbeck doesn't recruit through A-levels. Instead, it gives entrance tests.

What grades? Bristol asks for BBB/BBC. Sussex, Royal Holloway want BBC (you must have a B in French at Royal Holloway).

Will it keep you off the dole? Yes. Graduates of French are pretty employable. You can go into business, publishing, management, banking, teaching, research or the media. French graduates at Sussex join American Express in Brighton.

Will you be interviewed? Not at Sussex, Bristol and Royal Holloway. Yes at Birkbeck.

What do students say? "My degree gave me confidence. I very much enjoyed it. The essay writing was hard because it's a long time since I have written essays, but my son who's at Oxford taught me how. I have also learnt how to use a computer. It has very much enriched my life. …