Skip to main content


Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Engineering

At the University of Bordeaux you can take regular university courses in a wide variety of subjects. On-site language study plus immersion in daily life in France accelerates your language learning progress and abilities.

Unique study opportunities

  • Take a French gastronomy course and learn how food and wine culture has become such a distinctive feature of life in France.
  • Access a variety of art courses that offer both theory and practical application opportunities.
  • Conduct research or an independent study. UCEAP students have engaged in special studies in a wide variety of subject areas including biology, literature, geography, history, studio art, and art history.  


Language of Instruction: English, French

French Language Study: Required 

Intensive Language Program

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

Fall and Spring Semester

If you have less than two years of university-level French, you will enroll in a French language course during the semester. If you have two or more years of university-level French, language study is optional during the term.

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 for a minimum of 22.5 quarter/15 semester UC units
    • Fall Intensive Language Program: One course for a total of 4 quarter/2.7 semester UC units
    • Spring Intensive Language Program: One course for a total of 3 quarter/2 semester UC units
  • You may take up to one-third (33%) of your total unit load per semester for pass/no pass

Current Program Courses

Access to courses depends on your French language skills. For instance, if your French language skills are limited, you can take courses taught in English in political science, English and North American literature and civilization, economics, and selected areas in the sciences. However, if you have studied French for at least two years in college, you can access courses in all areas of study.

Most courses on this program are at the upper-division level. With the appropriate background and prerequisites, you can take courses at the Master 1 level within your major. These courses count at UC as upper-division undergraduate credit.

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.

Research and Independent Study

If you are interested in conducting independent research, you will need to contact professors in the field you desire to work in to set up your research project. Arrangements are typically made after arrival.

Catalogs and resources

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.

Grades for the fall semester are typically available in April. Grades for the spring semester are typically available in August.

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.