Course description

Terms: Autumn and Spring
Duration: 21hours (10 lectures, 11

The aim of this 1st year module is to provide an overview of the history and politics of contemporary France and. In terms of content, the module will introduce students to the key landmarks in French contemporary history, the most significant developments in French political life and culture and the key moments in the transformation of France’s relations with other countries in Europe. The focus will be on developing an understanding of the main events, processes and ideas, which have shaped and influenced contemporary France and provide the backdrop to current problems and issues.

In addition to providing students with the necessary background knowledge to pursue further study of the politics, society and culture of contemporary France, the module will also aim to equip students with appropriate skills to write their project during the year abroad. The language medium will be French and students will be trained in the vocabulary and idiom appropriate to the discussion of historical and socio-political topics. They will also learn how to equip themselves with relevant up-to-date primary and secondary source materials, as well as how to analyse such material critically.

The course consists of one 1-hour lecture/seminar per weekand requires at leastone hourofprivate studyper week. The assessment will consist of an in-class writing task in the first term, a project and a viva.

Students will be provided with a variety of up-to-date written and audio-visual documentation in French. In addition, they will be provided with a list of recommended reading material.


  • In-class writing task at the end of term 1 -25%
  • 2300-word project to be submitted at the end of term 2 50%
  • 30-minute viva at the end of term 2 25%

The course is moderated by an External Examiner. All marked work must be retained for resubmission at the end of the course.


Term 1 (1945

From la Libérationto the end of les Trente Glorieuses

  1. De Gaulle, the Liberation and the aftermath of World War II
  2. The 4thRepublic: Economic Reconstruction, Social Changes and the Beginnings of European Integration.
  3. The Algerian warand the creation of the 5th Republic
  4. The events of May 1968: revolutionor near-revolution?
Term 2 (1974-present time)

From les Vingt Piteusesto 21st century France

  5. Life in post-de Gaulle France : c’est la crise!
  6. The Mitterrand Presidency and its legacy: the end of utopia.
  7. Postcolonial Immigration and the Rise of the National Front
  8. Political, Economic and Social Challenges in the 21stCentury: La France en souffrance.


Agulhon, M., Nouschi, A. & Schor, R., La France de 1940 à nos jours, 3rdedition, Nathan, Paris, 2001
Evans, M. & Godin, E., France 1815-2003, Arnold, London, 2004
Howarth, D. & Varouxakis, G., Contemporary France: An Introduction to French Politics andSociety, Hodder-Arnold, London, 2003
Knapp, A. & Wright, V., The Government and Politics of France, 5thedition Routledge, London, 2006
McMillan, J. (ed), Modern France: 1880-2002, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003
Milner, S. & Parsons, N. (eds), Reinventing France. State and Society in the Twenty-FirstCentury, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2003

Websites version)