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Academics

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.
  • Combine the program with a special summer language program in Paris.
  • 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

Language of Instruction: English, French

French Language Study: Required 

If you have less than two years of university-level French, language study is required during the term. If you have two or more years of university-level French, language study is optional during the term.

Pre-Intensive Language Program

If you have 4–5 quarters/3 semesters of university-level French and you would like to take courses taught in French at the University of Bordeaux, 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 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 be required to enroll in a French language course during the semester. 

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program during the academic term:

  • Take a full-time course of study: Five to six courses for a total of 22.5 quarter/15 semester UC units.
  • You may take up to one-third (33%) of your total unit load per term on a pass/no pass basis.
  • Most courses on this program are at the upper-division level. As a UCEAP student, you can take courses at the Master 1 level provided that you have the appropriate background and meet the prerequisites. Master-level courses should be taken only within your major. These courses will transfer back to UC as upper-division undergraduate credit.
  • Summer Pre-Intensive Language Program: Three courses for a total of 13 quarter/8.6 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

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 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.

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 in Bordeaux 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.

Grades

You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Grades for the fall semester are typically available by early April and grades for the spring semester are typically available by late July.