FR3PM-French Popular Music and Society

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

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, and Edith Piaf, figures associated with the yéyé scene of the 1960s, and a variety of recent and contemporary music genres including rap, rock, and electronica.


- 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 popular music

- 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:

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

- The lyrics and music of recent and contemporary artists in genres including rap, rock, and electronica

- Historical and methodological 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 5 5
Seminars 10 10 2
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 10 10
    Wider reading (directed) 30 20
    Preparation for seminars 18 18
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 10
    Revision and preparation 26
    Essay preparation 26
Total hours by term 73 73 54
Total hours for module 200

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 by 1PM on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed on the third Friday of August, at 1PM on the next working day thereafter. 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 8 April 2019


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