Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: FR2L4 Advanced French Language II
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr John McKeane


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module provides an overview of French popular music of the 20th century, paying attention to the development of the genre and to its wider socio-cultural role. We will spend time looking at the texts, performances and personae of major figures such as Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf, as well as figures associated with the yéyé scene of the 1960's.

- To take chanson seriously as a form of thought and expression
- To improve students’ knowledge of the French language as well as French society and culture
- To foster critical thinking and its application in varying contexts

Assessable learning outcomes:
- Knowledge of the major figures and trends in 20th-century French chanson
- The ability to perform close readings of song lyrics and poetry
- The ability to analyse socio-cultural trends
- The ability to construct and defend critical arguments in extended prose writing
- Critical engagement with primary and secondary materials

Additional outcomes:
- The improvement of listening comprehension (range of vocabulary, speed)
- The improvement of oral skills (liaison, intonation, pronunciation)
- The ability to construct and defend critical arguments in a seminar setting

Outline content:
Topics for study may include:

- The lyrics and music of Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf
- The lyrics and music of the 1960s yéyé movement
- French poetry set to song (Baudelaire, Eluard, Cocteau, Aragon, etc.)
- The work of Francis Poulenc
- Theoretical material relating to music and to epic and lyric poetry
- Historical contextualization
- Relevant films

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

A weekly seminar will be dedicated to listening to and analyzing a small number (3-4) of pre-selected song lyrics. These will be taken from an anthology, to be considered the corpus for the module. Students will also be required to listen more widely to the work of the singer in question, and to be prepared to demonstrate independent learning.

A weekly lecture will analyse topics relevant to the singer or topic being studied. These lectures will be divided into three strands: theory, history, and film (a number of films on chanson will be set as required viewing over the year).

Students may also undertake an academic placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20 2
Guided independent study 116 52
Total hours by term 146.00 54.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:
2 hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Coursework: one commentary (1,000-1,250 words – 25%) and one essay (1,500 words – 25%).

One piece of assessment worth no more than 50% of the module mark can be replaced by a report produced after an academic placement. The placement must be agreed in advance by the module convenor; the length of the report is to be equivalent to standard departmental practice for coursework. 

Formative assessment methods:
A formative assignment testing the same skills as the summative assignment (commentary + essay).

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Reassessment in August, in the event of failure in this module and of failure in the degree as a whole. Coursework for reassessment must be resubmitted 12 NOON on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed on the third Friday of August, at 12 NOON on the next working day thereafter. 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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