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Comparing the new draft A-level French specifications (1)

Ofqual and the exam boards are on a tight schedule (merci Monsieur Gove) . The new draft specs for A-level are now published for first teaching from September 2016. These have yet to be accredited by Ofqual and based on recent performance there may be tweaks to come.

So here is a comparison of the subject content for A-level French of the four awarding bodies AQA, Eduqas, OCR and Pearson. Remember that they were working within the straitjacket provided by the DfE and Ofqual. Nevertheless you will see some significant differences in the choice of subject matter and prescribed literary texts and films. You'll see that OCR provide more detail in their list of topics.

AS topics, literary texts and films are within the A-level ones. All boards except AQA have a shorter list of texts and/or films for AS-Level.

There are also some differences in the assessment regime (e.g. exam timings, mark schemes and what goes in each paper) but I shall not deal with those issues in this post. The general weightings for each skill are dictated by DfE/Ofqual.

After the list of sub-themes/areas of study (the nomenclature varies from awarding body to awarding body) I shall add the prescribed list of literary texts and films. See what might be most stimulating to you and your students.

Pearson choose to list their themes in French.

By the way, Steve Glover of the excellent site has done a very useful mapping exercise showing how the topics compare across the exam boards (Word doc). He shared it with me and it is parked here.

Here we go:


  • The changing nature of family.
  • The "cyber-society".
  • The place of voluntary work.
  • Positive features of a diverse society.
  • Life for the marginalised.
  • How criminals are treated.
  • A culture proud of its heritage.
  • Contemporary francophone music.
  • Cinema: the 7th art form.
  • Teenagers, the right to vote and political commitment.
  • Demonstrations, strikes - who holds the power?
  • Politics and immigration.
  • Molière Le Tartuffe.
  • Voltaire Candide.
  • Maupassant Boule de suif et autres contes de guerre.
  • Camus L'Etranger.
  • Sagan Bonjour Tristesse.
  • Etcherelli Elise ou la vtaie vie.
  • Joffo Un sac de billes.
  • Guène Kiffe kiffe demain.
  • de Vigan No et moi.
  • Au revoir les enfants.
  • La Haine.
  • L'auberge espagnole.
  • Un long dimanche de fiançailles.
  • Entre les murs.
  • Les 400 coups.


  • Advantages of travelling, working and studying abroad.
  • Impact of travel on society (economic, social, physical and environmental).
  • Local culture and festivals in France and French-speaking countries and communities.
  • Migration and integration.
  • Cultural identity and marginalisation.
  • Cultural enrichment and celebrating difference.
  • Discrimination and diversity.
  • Entertainment, music and the arts . 
  • Media and digital culture.  
  • Youth sub-cultures, trends and personal identity. 
  • From June 1940 – May 1945 (occupation, liberation and end of World War II) .
  • Life in Occupied France and the cultural dimension (théâtre, cinéma, littérature) .
  • 1945-1950: rebuilding and restructuring. 
  • Repercussions for modern day France .
  • Camus l'Etranger.
  • de Vigan No et moi.
  • Anouilh Antigone (play).
  • Laroui Une année chez les Français.
  • Vercors Le silence de la mer.
  • Ben Jelloun Le racisme expliqué à ma fille (novel).
  • Intouchables.
  • Les Choristes.
  • Le Grand voyage.
  • La Haine.
  • Au revoir les enfants.
  • Monsieur Batignole.


Areas of study

  • Stereotypes, equality and gender -  the family (different structures and relationships); attitudes to marriage; gender identity; equality of opportunity; the roles of men and women; the effects of communication technology on human relationships.
  • Modern world issues - eating habits, genetically modified (GM) foods, vegetarianism, organic food and food production in target language countries and communities; obsessions and addictions; impacts of lifestyle on health, sport and fitness; technology. 
  • Law and order - types of crime, demographics of crime and punishment; cybercrime; crime prevention measures; punishments (prison, fines, alternatives to prison). 
  • Medical advances and related ethical issues - medical research; animal testing; genetic engineering; cosmetic surgery; the effect of extending life expectancy on demographics. 
  • Aspects of artistic culture - the popularity and significance of TV, film, theatre and music in the countries and communities where the language is spoken; music as an element of personal and national identity; the impact of digital technology in the world of the arts. 
  • Aspects of political culture - political systems; the impact of politics on the individual and society (education, housing, the environment, employment and migration); the role of the EU.
  • Césaire Une saison au congo.  
  • Camus L'étranger .
  • Nothomb Stupeur et tremblements.
  • Mauriac Thérèse Desqueyroux.
  • Labro Le petit garçon.
  • Grimbert Un secret .
  • Guène Kiffe kiffe demain .
  • Molière L’Avare.
  • La Haine .
  • Les quatre cents coups.
  • Le Corbeau.
  • Jean de Florette.
  • Intouchables.
  • Sans toit ni Loi.



Theme 1: Les changements dans la société française 
  • Les changements dans les structures familiales Les changements dans les attitudes envers le mariage, les couples et la famille. 
  • L’éducation Le système éducatif et les questions estudiantines. 
  • Le monde du travail La vie active en France et les attitudes envers le travail; le droit à la grève; l’égalité des sexes. 

Theme 2: La culture politique et artistique dans les pays francophones 
  • La musique Les changements et les développements; l’impact de la musique sur la culture populaire. 
  • Les médias La liberté d’expression; la presse écrite et en ligne; l’impact sur la société et la politique. 
  • Les festivals et les traditions Les festivals, fêtes, coutumes et traditions. 

Theme 3: L’immigration et la société multiculturelle française 

  • L’intégration et le multiculturalisme Les origines de l’immigration (à partir du 20ème siècle); l’évolution des stratégies politiques; les bienfaits at les défis de l’intégration et du multiculturalisme. 
  • La montée de l’extrême droite Les objectifs du Front national (FN); les leaders du FN; la montée du FN; l’opinion publique. 
Theme 4: L’Occupation et la Résistance 
  • L’Occupation La vie sous le régime de Vichy et l’autorité du Maréchal Pétain; La France occupée et la collaboration; l’antisémitisme. 
  • La Résistance La Résistance des Français, l’importance de Jean Moulin et Charles de Gaulle. 

Maupassant Boule de Suif (Un Duel, Deux Amis, La Mère Sauvage)
Ernaux La place 
Colette Le blé en herbe
Pagnol Le Château de ma mère
Begag Le gone du Chaâba 
Sartre Les mains sales
Rochefort Les petits enfants du siècle
Molière Le Tartuffe
Camus L’Étranger
Delphine de Vigan No et moi
Mauriac Thérèse Desqueyroux 
Joffo Un sac de billes


Au revoir les enfants
Deux jours, une nuit
Entre les murs
La Haine
La Vie en Rose
Le dernier métro
Les Choristes
Les 400 coups
Un long dimanche de fiançailles


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