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French studies 3: language and culture of the French-speaking world

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This module follows on from an OU Level 2 French module. It further develops your knowledge and understanding of French-speaking societies and extends your language competence. The interactive online study materials are based around text, audio and video resources including interviews and documentaries. You’ll engage in critical analysis, develop academic writing, research and presentation skills, and are introduced to the concept of linguistic and cultural mediation. The six module themes provide both broad and focused coverage of historical and contemporary aspects of French-speaking societies which you are encouraged to discuss with your fellow students in tutorials and forums.

What you will study

All the materials for this module are delivered online via the module website.

Each of the six units studied covers different aspects of language and culture of the French-speaking world.

The units in detail are:

Unit 1: The first unit deals with linguistic diversity and identity. You'll begin by looking at the concept of ‘la Francophonie’, and the status of the French language in a world where English is still predominant. You will then explore how regional identities are expressed in metropolitan France and Corsica and how language plays a significant role in feelings of belonging. You'll then look at Quebec and French Polynesia, where French language and culture play very different roles.

Unit 2: Unit 2 is about economy and society. Starting with the industrial revolution in the textile sector in northern France, you'll explore how the industrial revolution shaped society as we know it today. You will then examine the status and role of French women in the professional world in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries before looking at alternative economic models, including the move to a greener and more sustainable economy and society.

Unit 3: Unit 3 takes you on a voyage around the written word and its adaptations. You will start by exploring the main artistic movements in France through a thematic panorama from the 18th century to the present day and through a selection of internationally renowned French and Francophone authors. Then you will look at two traditionally highly popular genres in France: the crime novel and the ‘bande dessinée’ (comics).

Unit 4: Unit 4 is about migration and identity. You will look at where and why migration happens and how it affects identities, not only in mainland France but also on the African continent. You will explore how identities are constructed through political media coverage of migration and how sensitive and complex the issues surrounding migration and identity are dealt with. During this unit you will also engage in a cross-languages interactive task with students of German and Spanish.

Unit 5: This unit deals with science and technology and starts by introducing you to the status and the importance of science in France, both from an educational and political point of view. You will then explore scientific and technological advances in the areas of space, biology, climatology, and artificial intelligence. Science and technology will be examined from a critical point of view, raising questions on their applications for the future of society.

Unit 6: Finally, Unit 6 will cover history and politics through the prism of key historical events such as the French Revolution, the Dreyfus affair, and mai 68. Throughout this unit you will see how significant events have shaped 20th and 21st century French society and identities and how these events still resonate deeply in today’s France and overseas countries and territories.

Throughout these units, you will be working on text and audio-visual material through completing a wide range of online activities, which are designed to deepen your understanding of the module topics and develop your confidence in communicating in French. Throughout the module you will progressively develop your academic skills, leading up to a small-scale project at the end. All materials are interactive and encourage your participation; they also allow you to evaluate your progress regularly and provide you with strategies to further develop your skills as an independent language learner. With your fellow students, you can engage jointly in forums and, in Unit 4, you will take part in an interactive cross-languages discussion task.

This module is designed to enable you to achieve a level of language proficiency equivalent to level C1 of the Council of Europe Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Entry requirements

This is an OU Level 3 module for students who have successfully completed an OU Level 2 French module or who already have an equivalent knowledge of French.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

If you have time before the module begins, we suggest that you continue to use your French in any way you can. You could do this by: redoing some of the activities in your OU Level 2 module; watching and listening to the audio and video materials from your OU Level 2 French module; reading a French newspaper; accessing resources such as online editions of newspapers and magazines, internet radio and television; or borrowing French books and films from the local library. Anything you can do to keep practising your French will help you to prepare yourself for the start of the module.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which is the focal point of your study, and includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to forums where you can communicate with your tutor and fellow students.

You will need

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials and to take part in your interactive TMA 04, you’ll need a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

You'll also need to have access to a suitable French dictionary, either in print or online, for example:

  • Collins French dictionary and grammar editor, Susie Beattie. Published by Collins.

You will also be working with the following grammar book, which you can access electronically through the library, or you may have a printed copy if you have previously studied L222.

  • Thacker, M. and d'Angelo, C. (2013) Essential French Grammar. Oxon: Routledge.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to you. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you're strongly encouraged to take part.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

One TMA is an interactive speaking assignment which will be carried out by your tutor online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying L332 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

French studies 3: language and culture of the French-speaking world (L332) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment