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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 engaging course options in French literature, political science, psychology, economics, history, or sociology.
  • Choose from two affiliate institutions for courses: University of Lyon 2 and Sciences Po Lyon.


Language of Instruction: French

French Language Study: Required 

Intensive Language Program

The 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

Optional French language courses are 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 for a total of 22 quarter/14.7 semester UC units
      • One French Methodology course worth 4 quarter/2.7 semester UC units
    • Intensive Language Program: One course worth 4 quarter/2.7 semester UC units
  • You may take two courses for pass/no pass per semester

Current Program Courses

You can access courses at both the University of Lyon 2 and Sciences Po Lyon. University of Lyon 2 offers courses in the humanities and social sciences, and includes options designed specifically for international students. Sciences Po Lyon features a multidisciplinary curriculum aimed at providing an intellectual basis for the interpretation of contemporary society.

Offerings include courses in economics, French literature, geography, history, linguistics, visual arts, art history, psychology, political science, anthropology, and sociology. Most courses on this program are at the upper-division level.

You will take a French Methodology course offered exclusively to UCEAP students designed to help you succeed within the requirements of the French academic system. 

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 students have taken on this program. This is not a current representation of course offerings on this program. Reference the above links to review recent course offerings. 
  • 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. 

Grades for the fall semester are typically available in late March. 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.