Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

FREN1017 Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

Module Overview

This module introduces you to the study of French society and political culture by giving you an understanding of some key moments, personalities and issues.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The way in which issues of inclusion/exclusion have arisen and been debated at particular times in France.
  • The significance of founding moments and moments of crisis in French political culture, such as the separation of Church and State, the Liberation from German Occupation, The Algerian War and the foundation of the Fifth Republic.
  • Key personalities and topical issues in contemporary French social and political life, e.g. the role of figures like De Gaulle, Mitterrand and Sarkozy; the role of women in politics.
  • The importance of the idea of the Republic in France
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and prioritise relevant information and ideas in written texts
  • Take more effective notes based on your reading
  • Take information and ideas gained from one context and apply them in other contexts
  • Discuss your ideas in a group setting with growing confidence
  • Plan and write an academic essay
  • Express your ideas in writing with growing clarity and precision
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Read a wider repertoire of social and political texts in French
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain and analyse the significance of the key events and debates studied
  • Demonstrate that you have expanded your understanding of the topics studied through independent reading
  • Construct a structured and well-supported answer to an essay question on the topics studied


This module introduces you to the study of modern and contemporary France by exploring a series of key moments and figures from the twentieth century, as well as some topical issues in 21st-century France. What links these different moments is that they show how France has tried (and sometimes failed) to realise the values of liberty, equality and fraternity, values which are closely linked with what it means to be a Republic in the French context. We will consider how moments in the past can illuminate our understanding of the present. For example, in studying France’s past as a colonial power and the bitter war it fought to retain control of Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s, you will be encouraged to think about the legacies of colonialism in France today. Similarly, after studying the advent of women’s suffrage in France, you will be asked to think about the place of women in politics today and whether equality has actually been achieved. In this way, the module will equip you with key reference points, dates and terminology, while encouraging you to explore ideas and issues.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching consists of: • Lectures • Seminars • Academic Skills Workshops • individual consultation Learning activities you will participate in: • Independent reading • Preparing study notes based on your reading • Viewing visual and audio-visual material related to the topics studied • Group discussion • Essay planning and writing

Independent Study125
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

See also resources at.

Charles Sowerwine (2009). France since 1870: Culture, Society and the Making of the Republic. 


Assessment Strategy

Before tackling the written assignments, you will also have the opportunity to get feedback on practical skills like reading and note-taking through the skills sessions and individual consultations with tutors. Lectures will introduce topics and give you a framework in which to carry out independent work on the topic. By preparing notes on your reading each week for the seminar, you should be able to develop your skills in selecting and prioritising information and ideas from your reading. The seminar provides you with a chance to test and exchange these ideas with other students both through non-assessed discussion and through an assessed presentation. A workshop on essay-writing will help you grasp what kind of work is required in a written assignment at university level and will allow you to practise planning and writing techniques. Written and oral feedback on your assessed plan and first essay will aim to help you identify better strategies for preparing to write as well as focusing on the finished product. You will then have a chance to apply the lessons learned in a second more heavily-weighted essay.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 55%
Essay  (1500 words) 35%
Seminar presentation  (10 minutes) 10%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings