French at the University of Melbourne

The History of French at the University of Melbourne

French was first taught at the University of Melbourne in the early 1880s and since that time has enjoyed a distinguished history. Under the 35 year leadership of A.R. Chisholm (Professor of French 1921-1956), the program became a world-renowned centre of scholarship in French literature. Many of its former students have come to occupy positions of responsibility in all sectors of society: in the arts, education, publishing, the law, business, politics, government and diplomacy.

French at the University of Melbourne today

Today, the program maintains its distinction as a centre of teaching and learning in French language and the cultures of France and other French-speaking countries. Under our world standard education (through The Melbourne Model), students from all Faculties are taking up the opportunity to enrol in French studies at intermediate or advanced level, or to engage with the language and culture for the first time. The French studies program combines language learning and cultural awareness in a comprehensive range of language subjects as well as courses on literature, cinema, theatre, immigration and identity. French Studies at the University of Melbourne opens up a vast body of literary, historical and scientific knowledge to our students and the community.


Additional initiatives have been created, across many of the University's Faculties, to encourage research partnerships with France, and to enable students from diverse disciplines to undertake part of their study in a French speaking country abroad. Today, the University of Melbourne has formal exchange agreements with many major French tertiary institutions;

  • The Melbourne Law School with the University Panthéon-Assas-Paris II
  • The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning with the Ecole d'architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux as well as the Ecole d'architecture, Paris Val de Seine
  • The Faculties of Engineering and Science with the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble
  • The Faculty of Arts has thriving programs with universities in Lyon and Bordeaux, as well as the prestigious Institut d'études politiques (Sciences-Po) in Paris

Links with the community

The French studies program has worked consistently to promote the value of French studies in the wider community through its links with schools and organisations like the Alliance Française de Melbourne and the cultural services of the French Embassy. It is the birthplace, in 1977, of the Melbourne French Theatre Inc. and the home of the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations.

Through the University of Melbourne's Single subject studies (Community Access Program) many people choose to further their knowledge in, or introduce themselves to French language and culture - subject by subject, alongside our undergraduate students.