FR3PF-Philanthropy à la française: the history of ideas and practices in the French third sector

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: FR2L2 Intermediate French Language FR2L3 Advanced French Language I or FR2L4 Advanced French Language II
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Marjorie Gehrhardt


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to the significant role played by charity, philanthropy and humanitarianism throughout French history. It develops students’ understanding of the social, economic, political and cultural motivations and consequences of voluntary action through the analysis of a variety of historical and contemporary case studies. Lastly, it enables students to familiarise themselves with the language used in, and the key issues facing the voluntary sector in 21st century France.


Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students will be expected to:

  • Show knowledge of key concepts and of historical evolutions in the practices and perceptions of philanthropic activities

  • Show awareness of the social, economic and cultural factors that have influenced philanthropic activities over time, and of the issues at stake in the modern-day French context

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of charity and humanitarianism on the individuals and organisations involved

  • Contextualise the work of French charities within the wider comparative and transnational landscape of international philanthropic activities and humanitarianism especially

  • Critically analyse specific examples of philanthropic  campaigns in the francophone context and assess their impact

Additional outcomes:

Transferable and generic skills:

This module will also encourage the development of close reading and oral communication skills and students will also be able to develop their research and writing skills.

From the point of view of employability, students will develop a sound understanding of the third sector in the 21st century and of key concepts and terms used today, thereby contributing to developing their employability skills (should they wish to work for international or French NGOs especially).

Finally, in line with the objectives set out in the Curriculum Framework, this module contributes to the students’ development of graduate attributes including an appreciation of multiple perspectives, social and civic responsibility.

Outline content:

This cultural module introduces students to the significant role played by charitable, philanthropic and humanitarian concerns throughout French history. From a religious imperative to a humanist desire, to political activism, philanthropic ideas and activities have contributed to shaping French society, but they have also impacted relationships between France and other countries, particularly its (former) colonies. We will explore how the concepts of charity, bienfaisance, philanthropy and humanitarianism have evolved and the links between the Third Sector and the French state. Our discussions will include case studies from the medieval period, the Enlightenment, the 19th century and the two World Wars, but the focus will be largely on the role of associations and NGOs in French politics, economy and society since the start of the Fifth Republic. Case Studies may include poor relief, medical and educational initiatives, war and disaster relief, and will address relations between ‘recipients’ and ‘donors’ at national and international levels. Particular emphasis will be placed on the rhetoric used to present philanthropic activities at home and abroad.

The analysis of case studies will help students develop a sound understanding of the complex social, economic, political and cultural motivations for, and consequences of, voluntary action. This module will also familiarise students with the diverse historiography and will invite them to frequently work on primary sources to develop their analytical skills. The discussion of the present day philanthropic landscape  will enable students to familiarise themselves with the language used in, and the key issues facing the voluntary sector in 21st century France, including relationships with the state, environmental concerns and accusations of neo-imperialism.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module is taught through a mixture of informal lectures and student-led seminars/discussions taking place in the Autumn and Spring terms. Students will acquire background information from the lectures and will be encouraged to undertake independent work and prepare seminar presentations.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 5 5
Seminars 15 15
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 25 25
    Wider reading (directed) 25 25
    Exam revision/preparation 10
    Preparation for presentations 10
    Essay preparation 10 30
Total hours by term 90 100 10
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One two-hour exam in the Summer Term.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will submit one 3,000-word essay at the beginning of the Summer Term. Students will give one presentation in class on a date agreed with the lecturer.

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:

The tasks set ahead of each class and the discussions in the seminars will help prepare students for their oral assignment. There will be opportunities for formative feedback on an optional 1,500 word essay (or detailed outline) to be submitted at the beginning of the Spring Term.

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:

    Resubmission of coursework (in the event of failure in this module and in Part 3 as a whole) by 1.00 pm on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed, the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 10 June 2019


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