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How Many Books Did I Read For My French Degree At Oxford University?

How Many Books Did I Read For My French Degree At Oxford University?

Four years ago when I began studying at Oxford, the number of books I read for pleasure dropped drastically. In year 13, the year before I went to uni, I read 75 books. In my first year of uni I probably read 5 at best.


The reading list at Oxford is, quite frankly, insane. No matter what degree you study you’ll be presented with a very long reading list each week for a new essay but if you study a literature degree (i.e. Modern Languages or English), then you’ll also have to read the set texts.

Keep on reading to find out just how many books I read for my French finals in 4th year.

I studied French at Oxford, which means I only studied one language as opposed to two, which is the norm. This meant that I studied one more ‘content’ paper than the average modern languages student at Oxford, which is already a tonne more than those at other universities where non-literature modules are also offered.

Check out this post for more on what studying French at Oxford is like.

During my fourth and final year at university, I had to reread many of the texts I’d studied (and then promptly forgotten) in second year. I made list after list of all the options I’d already studied and then whittled it down to the bare minimum I had to read to get through the exams (can’t say I ain’t efficient 😜). The list I’ve made is therefore not even all the books I studied throughout my degree, it is simply those I chose to write on in my finals!

For my Oxford final exams, I sat four pure literature papers and one linguistics paper. I won’t bother talking about the latter because it required a completely different set of skills and in the end I thought it was a waste of my time.

Out of my four literature papers, I sat two special author papers and two period papers. For the former, I picked two authors that I would read extensively and for the latter, I picked three topics, which may have contained several authors or just one. Although in the final exam I only wrote on three topics, I actually studied eight for each paper!

There are many, many options on offer for French at Oxford but the ones I chose were:

Special Authors: Molière, Racine, Flaubert, Stendhal

Period Papers: C17th, C18th, C19th, C20th literature (i.e. basically everything.)

From those options I chose to read the following texts:

Molière (8)

L’Ecole des Femmes
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Dom Juan
Le Misanthrope
Les Fourberies de Scapin
Le Malade Imaginaire

Racine (6)


Stendhal (4)

Le Rouge et le noir
La Chartreuse de Parme 
Vanina Vanini 
De l’amour 

Flaubert (4)

L’Education sentimentale
Madame Bovary
Les Trois contes
Bouvard et Pécuchet

C17th (1)

La Fontaine
Les Fables

C18th (16)

Voltaire (5)

Lettres philosophiques
Le Taureau blanc

Rousseau (2)

Discours sur les sciences et les arts
Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes

Diderot (3)

Supplément au voyage de Bougainville
Ceci n’est pas un conte
Mme de la Carlière

Marivaux (3)

L’Ile des esclaves
La Double Inconstance
Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard

Beaumarchais (3) 

Le Barbier de Seville
Le Mariage de Figaro
La Mère coupable

C19th (12)

Mérimée (1)

La Vénus d’Ille

Gautier (3)

La Cafetière
Pied de momie
Arria Marcella

Maupassant (8)

Un fou?
Le Horla
Sur l’eau
Qui sait?
La Peur
La Main

C20th (9)

Ionesco (3)

La Cantatrice chauve
Tueur sans gages
La Leçon

Genet (3)

Les Bonnes
Le Balcon
Les Nègres

Albert Camus (3)

La Chute
Le Mythe de Sisyphe

Extended Essay (6)


Un Barrage contre le pacifique
L’Amant du Chine du nord
Moderato Cantabile
Le Ravissement de Lol V Stein
Le Vice Consul

Voilà! There’s a quick insight into the Oxford University French reading list.

I read sixty-six books for the literature part of my final exams at Oxford University. This list only includes the set texts, which you are supposed to read during the vacation period.

During term time you are supposed to be reading critical reading and God knows how many of those books I read in the last minute scramble before finals!

To anyone considering studying languages at Oxford, or more specifically, French at Oxford, I would suggest that you think long and hard about how much you like literature and reading because those modules will dominate your degree and take up far more of your time than any of the language work. 

Spot any works you know? I know Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is a fairly popular book even in the English language but a lot of these are fairly niche!

For more posts about my time at Oxford, check out these Oxford University blog posts:

8 Do’s and Dont’s When Choosing an Oxford College
What is it like to study French at Oxford University?
10 Reasons to Apply to Christ Church, Oxford
My Oxford Interview for Modern Languages
10 Most Beautiful Oxford Colleges
A Literary Tour of Oxford
Most Beautiful Libraries at Oxford University
The Harry Potter Tour of Oxford University

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  1. Aleksandra // bunniesaremagic
    25th Jul 2017 / 2:05 PM

    I’ve read a good half of these myself, maybe I missed my calling?

  2. 27th Jul 2017 / 11:26 AM

    Oh wow, that is a lot of books! I studied Politics and had to read a fair few as well x

  3. 27th Jul 2017 / 1:30 PM

    Wow that is a lot of reading, I have to say I don’t think I’ve read any of them, but then my French is awful!

  4. 27th Jul 2017 / 5:47 PM

    Wow, that is a long list of French books. I can imagine it was quite hard at the beginning, when you didn’t handle the language that well. However, it is still impressive, some of the name there are really hard books to read in English, can’t imagine in French!

  5. 27th Jul 2017 / 8:02 PM

    And there’s me struggling to read at least two books a month at the moment! Congrats, that is a huge achievement! French was never my strong point at school, think I could manage a German book just about now!

  6. Mummy Times Two
    27th Jul 2017 / 9:34 PM

    Having studied English at Cambridge I can totally relate to this. I missed reading just for pleasure whilst I was there as much as I loved everything else.

  7. 28th Jul 2017 / 9:26 AM

    Wow that’s a lot of books for your university degree, I had it real easy and didn’t have to read much for my uni degree but nothing really compares to Oxford/ Cambridge x

  8. 28th Jul 2017 / 10:36 AM

    That is a lot of reading! The university setting appears to be so different from the US, and frankly, so much more advanced!

  9. 28th Jul 2017 / 12:42 PM

    WOW! You have read so many different books, well done! 🙂

  10. 28th Jul 2017 / 12:42 PM

    oh my thats a lot of books , im currently on my planning and organising to do head , i am trying to declutter my brain and my home in time for our holidays and christmas coming and im hoping once those areas are clear my mind will be clear to get my reading back on track again , i love reading but been mum to 8 gives me less time than i would like x

  11. Lauretta
    28th Jul 2017 / 4:36 PM

    Wow! That’s a lot. Kudos to your hard work.

  12. Melissa Zia
    28th Jul 2017 / 7:06 PM

    Wow thats so many books! That is so impressive. I wish i knew more french

  13. Melanie Edjourian
    28th Jul 2017 / 7:49 PM

    It’s hard work isn’t it. I studied herbal medicine and I hard to read loads of books too. I loved it and miss those days.

  14. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes
    29th Jul 2017 / 9:47 AM

    That’s a lot of reading for your degree! Such a great achievement, well done 🙂

  15. Louise Smith
    29th Jul 2017 / 12:07 PM

    Oh, wow! That is a LOT of books. Your hard work and dedication will most definitely pay off though 🙂

    Louise x

  16. 29th Jul 2017 / 1:49 PM

    Oh my goodness what a long list. My son is off to uni next year I don’t think he knows what he has let himself in for lol x

  17. Stephanie
    30th Jul 2017 / 6:14 PM

    I’ve heard a lot about reading lists and Oxford/Cambridge – it’s quite the commitment! xx

  18. Laura Dove
    31st Jul 2017 / 4:32 PM

    WOw so many books! I admire you doing your French degree, I did a level French and that was hard enough! I would love to have studied at oxford.

  19. Tania Potter
    31st Jul 2017 / 7:23 PM

    Good grief! That is a lot of reading to get through. I imagine it must take a lot of the pleasure of reading away which is a pity.

  20. Kim Gammage
    1st Aug 2017 / 6:42 AM

    Wow! That’s an awful lot of books, pretty hectic! I studied Literature for my A Levels and it killed my desire to read for a long time, it’s taken me nearly 8 years to get back into reading for pleasure.

  21. Ania Ewelina
    1st Aug 2017 / 9:38 AM

    Holy crap girl, thats a whole lot of books. Props to you, especially for reading them in another language. Job well done!

  22. Jeenu Pillai
    1st Aug 2017 / 10:46 AM

    That is like a library! That is a lot. Respect!

  23. 1st Aug 2017 / 12:20 PM

    That is incredible but it is true, I did English Literature, English Language and Education and Social Sciences and the reading list was intense. It definitely decreased my personal reading list x

  24. Ma CharmaineNess H. Nioda
    1st Aug 2017 / 3:01 PM

    Wow, so great that you have read all this books. You’re so amazing and this is an awesome achievement for you. Cheers!

  25. David Elliott
    2nd Aug 2017 / 5:31 PM

    Rousseau would be very interesting to read in the original French. I know I was an English major and not a philosophy major but I feel like I took enough courses almost to get a minor in it. It would be interesting to know his thoughts on social contracts in the original French.

  26. BestiesNotepad
    3rd Aug 2017 / 3:00 AM

    That’s a long list of books out there..I don’t remember the number of books I read for my college degree but the only things I can read now are the blogs, fictions and something that interests me.
    No No to text books 😀

  27. Shannon Clark
    3rd Aug 2017 / 8:23 AM

    Wow, I always knew that I read a lot of books while I was at uni but counting them out makes that list seem so much more impressive – I might try to work out exactly how many I read too!


  28. bc21578
    3rd Aug 2017 / 1:03 PM

    Now, that’s quite a list. Wish I had your attention span! To me, French is the most beautiful language!

  29. Elena Stevkovska
    3rd Aug 2017 / 5:14 PM

    I used to study English Literature and the reading part was my favourite.

  30. Hollie Byrne
    10th Aug 2017 / 5:34 PM

    I studied French at the University of Liverpool and took every literature module that the university offered (which unfortunately, was one/two per semester.) I read 18 in final year, although they were all full length novels of 300 pages each. 66 is a ridiculous amount of books!!

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