French Language

Welcoming beginner, intermediate, and advanced students of French

“In my university, we focus more on literature, so the Summer School was an occasion to learn more about political and sociological issues in France and the European Union while studying French.”  - Yingtong, China 

Students who choose to study the French language in the Summer School's University Programme have the unique advantage of learning at one of France’s most prestigious universities while being immersed in the daily routines of life in Paris.

Sign up for the Summer School newsletter to receive more information about the 2018 French language track as soon as it becomes available.

French Language Track Overview

Students of the French language track take classes at one of six levels adapted to their knowledge of the French language.  A student's current level of French is determined by an initial placement test during the application process and a definitive placement test held on the first day. In assessing a student’s level, Sciences Po uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which places full beginners at level A1 and advanced students at level C2.  Download an explanation of the CEFR levels (in English and French, PDF, 140Ko).

A student’s course schedule is determined by his or her knowledge of French; students take the level of French they wish to reach at the end of the session. For example, a complete beginner should take Level A1, while a student with a B1 level of French will take Level B2 at the Summer School.  Learn more about how to demonstrate proficiency at a level of French on the Eligibility page.

French Language Levels

The coursework offered in the French language track is determined by a student's language level. In 2017, the French language track included the following courses:

  • French language courses accounted for the majority of class time (at least 48 contact hours) at every level, which allowed students to make maximum progress during their time at the Summer School. 
  • At the beginner and intermediate levels, language learning was reinforced through tutorials and focused workshops in subjects such as phonetics
  • At the more advanced levels, students took a variety of classes designed to improve their oral and written expression, including written methodology and debate workshops.
  • The maximum class size xas approximately 15 students. The total number of students in a class may change in light of the results of the placement test on the first day of the programme.

2017 Academic Programme

Beginner Levels (A1, A2)

Level A1

  • Summary: At the A1 level, students focused their language learning on a variety of different themes. These complete beginners started their study with topics necessary for successful daily interactions. As the course progressed, they delved into increasingly complex themes dealing with French culture.
  • Syllabus: Download the A1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 435 Ko).

Level A2

  • Summary: This course, meant for students who have mastered the basics of the French language, aimed to help students improve their oral and written expression. At the conclusion of the session, students were able to take part in a verbal exchange or produce a short written text. In terms of grammar, students mastered the present, past, and future tense. Vocabulary knowledge was also built and centered around certain key points of French culture.
  • Syllabus: Download the A2 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 327 Ko).

Intermediate Levels (B1, B2)

Level B1

  • Summary: At the B1 level, students progressed towards an intermediate knowledge of French by strengthening grammar and vocabulary in order to develop their argumentation skills. Through the study of current political and social events as depicted in the media, songs and films, students learned to describe more complex situations and express their own opinions.
  • Syllabus: Download the B1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 430 Ko).

Level B2

  • Summary: At the B2 level, students focused on three subjects: “Power and Representations of the French Political Life,” “Building Europe: politics and identity,” and “Crisis, inequalities, indignations.” They reinforced their written and oral language skills through the study of various materials, including political campaign posters, visits to museums, political cartoons and authentic texts, such as French newspapers and academic articles.
  • Syllabus: Download the B2 French language class 2016 syllabus (PDF, 72 Ko).

Advanced Levels (C1, C2)

Level C1

  • Summary: C1 level classes focused on the following topics: “Political life in France,” “Europe” and “Crises, inequalities, and indignations.” Students reinforce their language skills through the study of French political institutions, the construction of the European Union and the notion of crisis, the later encompassing a vast domain from global financial market to the Arab spring events. Coursework is based on texts such as newspapers and academic articles, as well as on political cartoons and radio programmes.
  • Syllabus: Download the C1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 322 Ko).

Level C2 (only offered during the July session)

  • Summary: Intended for advanced students, these courses built on written and oral language skills - with a special focus on precision, idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms - in order to reach the C2 level. Students were also guided through the specific rules and culture of the French academic system, especially those of Sciences Po.
  • Syllabus: Download the C2 French language class 2016 syllabus (PDF, 69 Ko).


In partnership with the Alliance Française Paris Ile-de-France, Sciences Po offers University Programme students the option to take the tests for the French Ministry of Education’s official Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF – levels up to B2) or Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF – levels C1 and C2). Please note that these exams are only offered during the July session.  Learn more.