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Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences

At the University of Lyon you will take regular university courses in many academic disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. On-site language study plus immersion in daily life in France accelerates your language acquisition and makes taking courses taught in French both manageable and rewarding.

Unique study opportunities

  • Access wonderful course options in French literature, political science, psychology, economics, history, or sociology.
  • Choose from two affiliate institutions for courses: Université Lumière or Sciences Po.
  • ​Pursue research or independent study opportunities.
  • Combine the program with a special summer language program in Paris.


Language of Instruction: French

French Language Study: Required 

Language study is required solely during the introductory language program, or ILP. However, it is not available during the term.

Pre-Intensive Language Program 

If you have 4–5 quarters/3 semesters of university-level French and you would like to attend the University of Lyon, you can enroll in the summer pre-intensive language program (pre-ILP) that takes place in Paris prior to the start of the fall semester. Faculty who specialize in teaching French use curricula compatible with UC French departments. The language instruction and cultural education take full advantage of the local surroundings and put you in direct contact with French society. You will take two sequential French language courses and a practicum course that provides techniques to study effectively and efficiently in the French academic environment. 

Intensive Language Program

The main program begins with a mandatory 2-week intensive language program designed to advance your French language skills and acquaint you with French academic culture. 

Fall and Spring Semester

French language courses are not available during the regular terms. 

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study:
    • During the academic term: Five to six courses with a total of 22 quarter/14.7 semester UC units.
    • Summer Pre-Intensive Language Program: Three courses for a total of 13 quarter/8.6 semester UC units.
    • Intensive Language Program: One course for a total of 4 quarter/2.7 semester UC units.
  • You may take up to two courses per term on a pass/no pass basis.

Current Program Courses

You can access courses at either the Université Lumière Lyon 2 or Sciences Po Lyon. Most courses on this program are at the upper-division level. ​If you are interested in conducting research or an independent study, you will need to contact professors in the field you desire to work in after arrival. 

Catalogs and resources

  • University of Lyon 2: Access the university course lists. Under "Par diplôme" select Licence: Portail L1, L2, L3 to get more information on the degrees and courses.
  • Sciences Po Lyon Course Catalog: Scroll down on this page and click on 'La 1ère année' for courses at the first year of the degree and 'La 2ème année' for courses at the second year of the degree.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: See a list of courses UC students have taken on this program.
  • Campus Credit Abroad: Learn the types of credit (major, minor, general education, elective) students from your campus received at this location.

Academic Culture

There are two main types of courses within the French university system. One type, called cours magistraux or cours fondamentaux, consists of a series of lectures held in amphitheaters for 200 to 400 students. The lectures present a broad theoretical analysis of major issues and trends in the given field. 

The cours magistraux or cours fondamentaux are supplemented with travaux dirigés or conférences de méthode. These are conducted in smaller groups and follow more closely the pedagogical pattern practiced in American universities.

Unlike practices at UC, full syllabi, course readers, and published course notes are rarely available. Although assigned homework is rare, professors do provide extensive bibliographies from which you are expected to select books to read. You will not receive a schedule of reading assignments. This has been misleading to some UC students, who had the false impression that homework was not required. The truth is there is a lot of preparation required for the final (and sometimes only) exam. You will need to read as much of the course reading material as possible and know your course notes in depth to pass the exam. 

When taking courses in French, overcoming the language barrier in the context of your courses may be a challenge at first. It is also important to master the various French academic writing styles, such as the dissertation with its plan détaillé and the commentaire composé, especially when writing under pressure. Overall, the dominant feeling for most UCEAP students is that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways. Some courses are assessed on the basis of a final exam only, others will have a midterm and a final, and some may have one to three papers throughout the semester and an oral presentation in front of the class at the end of the semester. Final exams may be administered in class, as a take-home paper, or as an oral exam. For oral exams the professor will propose three or four different subjects for the exam and the student will select one at random. The student then has about 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to speak in front of the professor. On the final exam, you may be asked to present a broad, conceptual analysis of a given question based on lectures and independent reading. You’ll need a thorough knowledge of the subject, which involves judicious readings from the course bibliographies. 


You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. The fall semester runs into the month of January. If you are studying during the fall only, you may need to make special arrangements to complete exams by late December.

Grades for the fall semester are typically available in late March and grades for the spring semester are typically available in late July. 

Tip: If you intend to put yourself on your campus degree list for graduation while on UCEAP, consult your campus advisors before departure about possible delays in the degree verification process.