The Modern French Studies MA allows you to undertake postgraduate study in French literature, society and culture, from the 18th century to the present, and benefit from the complementary experience of living in Paris.
French culture has always had a huge impact on the world; from politics to cinema, literature to fashion, and France remains a major influence in European and global culture. The MA in Modern French Studies offers you the opportunity to study a range of major writers and key themes in French literature, media and culture from the 18th century to the present day.
The programme is designed for students with a variety of interests, including literature, the visual arts, philosophy and aesthetics. It also reflects the research specialisms and publications of the members of Department of Modern Languages, with wider input from the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL).
Kent provides an ideal location in which to study French culture; our Canterbury campus is close to mainland Europe, with Paris only a couple of hours away by Eurostar. After a term at our Canterbury campus, you study at Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture to study modules with a particular focus on the city, gaining the experience of living within another European culture.
After you have taken four modules across the autumn and spring terms, you undertake a 12,000 word dissertation over the summer with supervision from an expert within the department. The programme is also available to study at Canterbury only.
The MA in Modern French Studies is an ideal programme for those with an active interest in French society, history and literature, with the desire to live in Paris in an active and extended engagement with the culture.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.
Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The MA in Modern French Studies offers you the opportunity to study a range of major writers and key themes in French literature, visual culture and thought from the eighteenth century to the present day. The programme is designed for students with a variety of interests, including literature, the visual arts, philosophy and aesthetics. It also reflects the research specialisms and publications of the members of staff involved.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
FR866 - Literature and Theory (30 credits)
This module will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical positions with the aim of enriching their understanding and appreciation of literature and critical practice. We will begin with the thinking of Nietszche and Freud, before examining that of Saussure, Benjamin, Lévi-Strauss, Genette, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Kristeva, Cixous, and Irigaray. As well as encouraging a critical engagement with the claims of the theories themselves the module will examine a number of representative theoretical readings of literary works. Students will learn to evaluate these various thinkers and use their ideas, as appropriate, in their own writing.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
FR872 - Theories of Art in Modern French Thought (30 credits)
This module examines a selection of pre-eminent texts in modern French art theory and philosophy. It invites students to analyse and to chart intersections and developments in French writing on the image across shifting critical landscapes, including those marked by phenomenology, structuralism and post-structuralism. Students will be encouraged to explore French theories of art with due attention to historical precedents, and to reflect on the aesthetic, political and technological significance of the visual arts for a wide range of French thinkers.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
FR820 - Paris: Reality and Representation (30 credits)
The curriculum includes a selection of texts from various countries, all readily available in English and all specifically relevant to the modern history, evolving population and changing appearance of Paris and to how these aspects of the city has been perceived and represented in literary prose. The set texts are by writers from different periods and of various nationalities and they are all set in and inspired by Paris. The texts are chosen for their high literary quality, but also because they represent essential aspects of the citys evolution and exemplify various narrative strategies and ways of engaging with the realities of life in the city, always shaped by personal preoccupations and sensibilities. This varied selection within the genre of prose fiction allows study of Zolas naturalism and his presentation of the political and aesthetic implications of baron Haussmans plans for urban renewal and control; Edith Whartons perspective as an American incomer; André Bretons combination of oneiric urban encounters with photographic illustrations of the city, inserted into the text; Jean Rhyss clearly gendered experience of the city in the 1920s and 1930s; the identity of the city as a site for postwar liberation and literary dynamism in the work of expatriates from the Beat generation; and the representation of todays city as a centre for immigrant communities and cultural diversity. The primary texts are thus all Paris-focussed but are chosen to open an international perspective on the literary representation of an increasingly cosmopolitan city.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
FR803 - Paris and the European Enlightenment (30 credits)
This module is designed to examine the overlapping influence of Early Modern and Enlightenment thinkers and writers mainly based in England, France and Germany. A particular focus is provided by the Parisian setting: several key figures (such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot) lived in Paris for a significant part of their lives, and Paris was a city second to none in its importance within a vast international exchange of ideas during the Enlightenment period. The module will encourage students to consider the historical contexts out of which the various texts emerge, and show how ideas passed between England, France, Germany and elsewhere. Attention will consistently be paid to the tension between Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment in Europe. This will include allowing the students to understand debates, in the eighteenth century (and, if appropriate, since then), around the following issues: empiricism; sensationism; toleration; freedom of speech; aesthetics; literary genres; the 'pre-Romantic'.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
FR998 - French Dissertation (60 credits)
The topic of the dissertation will usually be based on, and develop from, work undertaken on one or more of the four coursework modules undertaken in the course of the MA.
Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by one 5,000-word essay for each module and the dissertation.
The programme aims to:
- provide the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate qualification (MA) in one year, and to allow, if required, a smooth transition to doctoral studies
- allow you to spend the first term in Canterbury, studying modules in modern French studies, and the second term in Paris, studying modules in French, European, English and American literatures
- attract and meet the needs of candidates who wish to gain in-depth an understanding of the textual and visual interconnections pertaining to modern French studies
- provide a cultural approach to the study of relations between the visual and the textual
- consider the manner in which literature and the visual arts intersect in French culture from the eighteenth century to the present
- provoke critical reflection on areas of modern French literary studies and theories of visual studies
- provide training in multidisciplinary research methods
- develop knowledge and understanding of relevant aspects of contemporary Paris and the cultural history of the city as reflected in modern French, European, English and American literatures and other artistic media
- introduce various methodological approaches
- provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
- provide a means of access to intellectual awareness and understanding
- provide opportunities for the development of personal, communication and research skills and other key skills appropriate for graduate employment both in industry and in the public sector
- develop critical, analytical, problem-solving and other transferable skills
- build on proficiencies in spoken and written French and spoken and written English.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding in:
- speaking, reading and writing French at an advanced level
- theories of art from the eighteenth century to the present
- the representation of works of art in literature from the eighteenth century to the present
- the relationship between literary texts and their cinematic adaptations
- the manipulation of photography in modern works of literature
- the use of photography as a means of propaganda
- Modernism as an international movement in literature and art and the role of Paris as a site of modernist experimentation
- The cultural history of modern Paris, as reflected in art and literature.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- language skills: comprehension, oral and written, in French and English
- problem-solving: the ability to reason logically, critically and analogically
- research methodology: the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
- the ability to identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
- the ability to develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
- learning to work in a different environment by integrating into the educational, cultural and professional environment of England, with regards to an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- communicating at an advanced academic level in French and English
- developing a comprehensive knowledge of the cultural development of modern Paris, as expressed in literature and art
- developing an appreciation of a variety of literary styles and art forms and their lines of divergence and convergence.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to communicate orally at a high standard
- the ability to produce written work of a high standard, in an appropriate register, in French and English
- IT: a high level of competence in information processing using relevant databases and online research
- the ability to undertake group tasks that encourage co-operative skills
- a high level of competence in information processing, using relevant databases and online research
- time management
- living and working in diverse cultural environments: you will participate and work in academic communities in both Canterbury and Paris. You will thus develop cultural knowledge and understanding, flexibility, imagination, resourcefulness and tolerance.
A postgraduate degree in French studies is an extremely versatile qualification that can open the door to exciting career opportunities in many professions. Our graduates have gone on to work in the IT industry, academic administration, cultural management and to further postgraduate training and academic careers at UK and overseas universities.
About French at Kent
French at Kent is part of the Department of Modern Languages. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK. Our main research interests include word and image studies, narratology, literary theory, psychoanalysis, medical humanities, sociolinguistics, postcolonial studies, gender studies and autobiography.
Staff and postgraduates in French take a leading role in the School of European Culture and Languages’ Centre for Modern European Literature and the School of English’s Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, whose activities include conferences, lectures, research seminars and reading groups. Students also participate in an annual international conference organised by Skepsi, an online journal based in the School of European Culture and Languages and run by MA and PhD candidates.
Our programmes benefit from Kent’s proximity to Paris in more than one way. Most colleagues within French have research links in Paris. We have a long-standing exchange with the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. A more recent development is the exciting range of MA programmes based in Canterbury and Paris. Roughly half of our research students opt for a co-tutelle leading to the award of a PhD from Kent and a doctorate from a French institution. Students who undertake their research entirely in Canterbury benefit from the cosmopolitan atmosphere at the UK’s European university.
The Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all areas relevant to our research, with particular strengths in 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century French literature. The School of European Culture and Languages provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms, two networked multimedia laboratories and a streamed film library.
Every year, a considerable number of French nationals and native speakers of other foreign languages follow our postgraduate courses, while European exchange students who come to Kent as undergraduates often stay on to do graduate work. We are involved in the Erasmus and Tempus networks, and we also have a team of foreign- French-language lectors who combine undergraduate teaching with study for a Kent higher degree or with writing a dissertation for their home universities. Postgraduate dissertations in French studies at the University of Kent may be written in English or in French. The University of Kent also offers language training, particularly in English, for overseas postgraduates.
The Graduate School offers all postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages a wide-ranging programme of training in transferable skills. The School provides training workshops for postgraduate students with teaching responsibilities, bringing together postgraduates from all our subject areas. Research students may gain further academic experience by giving talks at the Centre for Modern European Literature research seminars. Postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages also organise their own annual international conference, and edit and contribute to Skepsi, the School’s postgraduate online journal of European thought.
In Paris, you are encouraged to make full use of the city's cultural resources and to integrate that experience into your studies. The Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay, Musée d’Arte Moderne, Grand Palais and other world-class museums and exhibition spaces are on your doorstep.
In addition, you benefit from borrowing rights at the libraries of the University of Paris VII, which have viewing facilities and holdings of films, books and periodicals in English. You also have access to the libraries of University of Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle). Other Paris libraries with relevant holdings include the French National Library, the Centre Georges Pompidou Public Library and the American Library in Paris, to which you are given access and a guided visit.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Australian Journal of French Studies; Diderot Studies; Dix-Neuf; Forum for Modern Language Studies; French Cultural Studies; French Studies; Modern Language Review; Revue Romane; and Romance Quarterly.
Students based in Paris collaborate with Kent students from other campuses to produce a literary magazine, Le Menteur, which was founded in 2012. Le Menteur specialises in poetry, fiction, essays and visual art. For details, please see http://thementeur.com
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
Please see our entry requirements by country.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Staff interests broadly fit within the parameters of French literature and thought from the 18th century to the present, with research clusters organised around the following areas: the European Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment; Ekphrasis; Franco-Sino relations; Life Writing; Medical Humanities; Philosophy and Critical Theory; French Surrealism; Cubism; the Avant-Garde; the interface between visual arts and text.
Recent publications have focused on authors, artists and thinkers including the following: Apollinaire; Artaud; Badiou; Barthes; Blanchot; Cocteau; Crébillon fils; Deleuze; Diderot; Djebar; Flaubert; Foucault; Houellebecq; Lacan; Maupassant; Mérimée; Nimier; Proust; Sade; Yourcenar; Zola.
Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies (CLLS)
Founded in 2007, the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies (CLLS) promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other SECL members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and subdisciplines of linguistics.
Centre for Modern European Literature
Many of the most significant European writers and literary movements of the modern period have traversed national, linguistic, and disciplinary borders. Co-directed by members of Comparative Literature, French, and German, the Centre for Modern European Literature aims to promote collaborative interdisciplinary research that can do justice to these kinds of border crossing.
Ranging across English, French, German, Italian and Spanish literature, the Centre focuses in particular on the European avant-garde, European modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, the international reception of European writers, and the relations between modern European literature and the other arts, including painting, photography, film, music and architecture. The Centre’s activities include a lecture and seminar series and the regular organisation of conferences. It also works with the editors of the postgraduate journal Skepsi, and runs the MA in Modern European Literature.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Thomas Baldwin: Reader in French
Nineteenth and 20th-century French literature; representations of art in literature; literary theory and philosophy.Profile
Dr Larry Duffy: Senior Lecturer in French
Nineteenth-century French literature, thought and culture; Flaubert, Zola; Houellebecq; realism, naturalism and documentary literature; the body.Profile
Dr James Fowler: Senior Lecturer in French
Novels, drama and other writings of the 18th century; Diderot and the Enlightenment; prudes and their relation to libertinage; narratology; psychoanalysis; discourses of the body; Richardson’s reception in France.Profile
Dr David Hornsby: Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics
The history of the French language; sociolinguistics of French; sociolinguistic theory.Profile
Professor Ben Hutchinson: Professor of Modern European Literature
Nineteenth and 20th-century German and European literature, especially Rilke, W G Sebald, Jean Améry, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Geoffrey Hill, 20th-century poetry, modernism.Profile
Dr Lucy O'Meara: Lecturer in French
Literary and cultural theory; aesthetics; Roland Barthes.Profile
Professor Peter Read: Professor of Modern French Literature and Visual Arts
Nineteenth and 20th-century French literature and the visual arts; Apollinaire; Surrealism.Profile
Enquire or order a prospectus
T: +44 (0)1227 827272
Dr Thomas Baldwin
T: +44 (0)1227 824718
The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Modern French Studies - MA at Canterbury and Paris:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com