Course Sequence and Area of Concentration Requirements

French language is taught in a six-semester sequence after which students can enroll in courses and tutorials on literary and cultural topics. Elementary French I & II and Intermediate French I & II focus on oral and written communication to navigate everyday situations and discuss contemporary issues. Advanced French I & II provide both a systematic review of grammar and an introduction to the study of literature in French; students read, discuss, and analyze works from a variety of genres, historical periods, and regions of the Francophone world. 

A placement test is offered so that students who have previously studied French can be placed at the appropriate level. Students are encouraged to begin the placement process as soon as possible, including during the summer before their first semester at NCF. Contact French faculty for the link needed to begin the placement process.   

After completing Advanced French, students are prepared to enroll in literature courses, ISPs, and tutorials in which they will read, discuss, and write in French. One bilingual seminar in French and Francophone Literature is offered each semester; these seminars are open both to students who can read French as well as to those who read in English translation. Seminar topics vary from year to year, but are designed to expose students to significant works of French and Francophone literature and to diverse critical and theoretical approaches to literary studies. Students who are beginning to study the French language, and those with no study of French, are able to enroll in the English sections of our French literature seminars.

Students may complete an Area of Concentration (AOC) in French Literature and Culture or a Joint-Disciplinary AOC that combines French with another discipline. In both cases, students will have a high level of proficiency in spoken and written French, as demonstrated by the completion of Advanced French I & II (or the equivalent), as well as solidly satisfactory evaluations in all coursework in French language and literature. 

For students whose primary goal is developing their command of the French language, we also offer Secondary Fields in French Language and in French Language and Culture. For both Secondary Field tracks, students complete the French language sequence through Advanced French II (between 4 and 6 courses, depending on initial placement); the secondary field in French Language and Culture requires the additional completion of 2 courses in French literature. 

All students, whether in the AOC or secondary field or taking French as an elective, are strongly encouraged to arrange an Independent Study Project or off-campus semester in a French-speaking country or region; the Off-Campus Study Office can assist students in enrolling in programs that fit their academic interests and budget. Students have recently studied in France, Belgium, Quebec, Morocco, and Senegal.

Area of Concentration (AOC) in French Literature and Culture, or a Joint-Disciplinary AOC in French

VIEW Checklist for joint concentration

To complete the AOC or joint-disciplinary AOC in French, students:

  • demonstrate a high level of proficiency in French language skills (the ability to understand spoken and written French; the ability to express themselves effectively in French when speaking and writing), by completion of Advanced French I & II.
  • demonstrate, in their course work and thesis project, the ability to read, discuss, and analyze literature in French. Students should be familiar with works of different genres, historical periods, and regions of the Francophone world. If considering graduate study in French or a related field, students should work with faculty in tutorials and ISPs to ensure broad coverage of different genres and historical periods;  
  • demonstrate in their thesis the ability to engage with literary criticism and/or theory. Students are strongly encouraged to complete one course or tutorial in literary theory;
  • are encouraged to undertake relevant course work in related fields, such as history, art history, music, philosophy, or political science.

For the full French AOC, students are expected to complete 8-10 semester-long courses, tutorials, or ISPs (including Advanced French I & II) plus a senior thesis project that substantially focuses on French/Francophone literature and culture. For the Joint-Disciplinary AOC, students complete 6-8 semester-long activities (including Advanced French I & II); and are strongly encouraged to include a French component in their senior thesis project. Only courses at the level of Advanced French or beyond count toward the AOC. See the links to AOC checklists below. 

Students may, upon consultation with faculty, include up to 2 courses taught in English as part of their AOC, whether the English sections of French literature seminars or relevant courses in other disciplines, including history, art history, music, philosophy, and political science. For courses taught in English in other disciplines to count toward the AOC, students should focus their projects and written work on topics related to France and/or the Francophone world, and use source materials (criticism, theory, secondary sources) written in French where possible.

Secondary Fields

VIEW Checklist for secondary field

To recognize student achievement in the study of the French language, we offer two secondary field tracks: French Language and French Language and Culture. Students who begin studying French at NCF are able to complete a secondary field in French language after 6 semesters of study. Secondary fields in French are particularly good options for students who transfer to NCF with some prior study of French. 

Students who begin the French sequence at NCF in Elementary or Intermediate French can complete a secondary field in French Language by completing the six-semester language sequence: Elementary French I & II; and/or Intermediate French I & II; and Advanced French I & II. (Students who start in Elementary will need 6 semesters of study; students who start in Intermediate will need 4.)

Students may also opt to complete a more substantial secondary field in French Language and Culture by completing the language sequence through Advanced French I & II plus 2 additional courses in French Literature. (Students who place into Advanced French will complete this in 4 semesters, those who begin in Elementary or Intermediate will need 8 and 6 semesters, respectively). See the links to Secondary Field checklists below. 

Recently offered literature seminars

  • World War II France in Film and Fiction 
  • Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past
  • The Twentieth-Century French Novel
  • Eighteenth-Century French Literature 
  • Colette 
  • Molière 
  • Literary Movements of Nineteenth-Century France 
  • Giving Voice to Identity: Francophone Literatures from Quebec and the Caribbean
  • African Stories: Fiction from Francophone Africa 
  • Women Writing of/from Africa: Feminist Truths, Feminist Fictions 
  • On Stage in Paris and Montréal: 20-21st century theatre