The structure of degrees at Stirling means that a range of different combinations of subjects are possible throughout the degree, with most students taking at least 3 different subjects for their first two years. By way of example, Ewan Walker, who just graduated in June of this year, has described his experience as a French and Religion student at Stirling:
“I graduated from Stirling with a BA (Hons.) in French and Religious Studies in June 2013. “What an odd combination,” I hear you say. On the surface, it would appear that way, since France considers itself a “secular” Republic. Surely then, the two subjects are polar opposites?
Perhaps at most other universities they would be. However, in the French department at Stirling, there’s not a sole focus on the linguistic side of the subject, but a heavy emphasis is also put on learning the history and culture of France and the Francophone world. As we were told way back in first year, “how can you learn a language when you don’t know where the language came from?”
In this context, French and Religious Studies actually go hand in hand, and throughout the course of my time at Stirling, I found there were a lot of areas of overlap within the two subject areas.
I really enjoyed my time studying French at Stirling for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the course content piqued my interest in completely new topics. One area I became particularly interested in was colonialism and France’s colonial wars. This is something which I had never even considered before arriving at Stirling.
Secondly, every single member of staff in the department was fantastic and made the course enjoyable. Particular mention has to be made of Bernadette, our language assistant who constantly went out of her way to ensure the success of each of her students. In third and fourth year, she even gave up her lunch breaks to meet students in the canteen for extra weekly language practice.
It was clear to me that each member of staff was enthusiastic about their subject and this was reflected in their lectures. Classes were interesting and engaging- even the driest grammar classes were transformed into engaging lessons!
Perhaps the highest point of my time studying at Stirling was my Semester 6 abroad, when I lived and studied in Tours, France for 6 months.
The time away was both challenging and exciting. During the time I spent in France, I met a bunch of amazing people and had some amazing experiences. For me, it was also easier to learn the language whilst surrounded by it every day, than when I was sitting in a classroom. For anyone who is unsure of where to go on their semester 6 abroad, I would definitely recommend Tours. The city has such a vibrant and interesting history and there is so much to learn and discover whilst living there.
I can only think of one negative comment about studying French at Stirling. Due to the structure of the course, joint Honours language students are not required to write a final dissertation, which disappointed me at the time. However, by the end of fourth year, I was glad I didn’t have all the extra pressure on me, particularly as the dissertation deadlines were so close to the final exam period!
I’m now taking a year out to try and find full time work, before hopefully returning to Stirling in 2014 to complete a Masters in Translation and TESOL. My time at Stirling has definitely shaped the way for my future and helped me decide where I want to be in 5 years time. It also helped me to begin a lifelong love affair with France and the French language. I couldn’t think of anywhere better to study French, and would recommend Stirling in a heartbeat.”
Thanks to Ewan for talking about his experience at Stirling and all the best for the future!