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Unit information: The Third Republic: France 1870 - 1940 in 2015/16

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Unit name The Third Republic: France 1870 - 1940
Unit code FREN20036
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Hurcombe
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will seek to reconcile the Thurd Republic's apparent fragility wih its success, examining its part in shaping modern French society and political culture through the study of the social and political challenges of the period 1870 - 1940. Beginning with an examination of its origins, it will focus on the Third Republic's early attempts to assert its authority through challenges from the far-right. It will then examine how Republican identity and values are established as a national and then universal norm through education and colonial policy. Furthermore, the unit will examine the challenge posed by international events of the early twentieth century, in particular the First World War. It will also examine the Republic's relationship to the politics of the left under the Front Populaire and its reaction to the international crisis of the 1930s that culminated in defeat for France in 1940 and the death of the Republic.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to second year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level C.
  • Some options may prepare students for the experience of the Year Abroad.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year. abroad..

Teaching Information

Normally one lecture hour and one seminar hour per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours), often with student presentations. In units with a smaller number of students the lecture hour may be replaced by a second seminar or a workshop. Units involving film may require students to view films outside the timetabled contact hours.

Assessment Information

Two 2000-word essays (50% / 50%)

Reading and References

In addition to a dossier supplied by the Department, it is recommended that students acquire their own copy of one of the following texts:

Mayeur, J-M La Vie politique sous la Troisième République (Seuil, 1994)

Miquel, Pierre, La Troisième République (Fayard, 1997)

Fortesque, William, The Third Republic in France: 1870-1940: Conflicts and Continuities (Routledge: 2000).