Since 2019, the University has been implementing unique master’s degree programmes in the philosophy, history and literature of France. Students enrolled in these programmes can not only study at two universities – at St Petersburg University and Sorbonne University (Paris) – but they can also obtain two diplomas.

france students

Students in the academic programmes with the French component shared with us their professional aspirations and impressions about their studies at St Petersburg University.

Please tell us why you chose this particular master’s degree programme at St Petersburg University?

Master’s student in the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ (‘Russia and France in Historical and Cultural Context’) Marina Tokareva:

When I graduated from a bachelor’s degree programme in Moscow I wanted to enrol in a joint, internationally oriented master’s programme in the fields of philology and history. However, I failed to find such a programme in the capital. Then I started looking for options in St Petersburg, and I was fortunate to learn about the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ at St Petersburg University. The prospects of the programme are promising: second-year students are offered an opportunity to continue their studies in Paris and to obtain a second diploma in the Sorbonne. Moreover, we have two supervisors, one here in Russia and one in France.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ (‘The Literature of Russia and France: An Alternate Glance’) Daniil Stognii:

While studying in the bachelor’s degree programme in Stavropol, southwestern Russia, I became interested in Franco-Russian literary connections and wanted to continue my studies in them. I chose St Petersburg University because it was the only university that offered such a wide selection of interesting master’s programmes in fields related to philology and humanities. I applied for three programmes: ‘Russian Language and Russian Culture in the Aspect of Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language’, ‘Foreign Literatures and Cultures’ and ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ (‘The Literature of Russia and France: An Alternate Glance’). To be honest, the latter interested me the most. So, I was excited when after much anxious waiting I learnt that I had been admitted for a state-funded place!

Master’s student in the programme ‘Dialogue philosophique entre Russie et France(‘Philosophical Dialogue Between Russia and France’) Nadezhda Osipova:

For many years, my main interests have been the French language and culture. When St Petersburg University website published information about a new joint master’s programme initiated under the cooperation agreement concluded with Sorbonne University, I realised that this was a unique chance. This is the right programme for me because it offers an opportunity to study at two universities. Moreover, in my bachelor’s thesis I analysed the concept of cultural dialogue between different nations. Hence it propelled my keen interest in this master’s programme.

What are your experiences of studying at the University in the chosen programme?

Master’s student in the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ Marina Tokareva:

The language requirements in this programme are a real challenge, but such an intensive learning experience will certainly not be in vain. Native-speaking lecturers speak very fast, but within the space of two months you begin to understand French much better and do not hesitate to speak. I think that at St Petersburg University students enjoy considerable freedom in the choice of classes to attend. At the beginning of the semester, we were offered a choice of general elective courses on both ancient history and the history of the Middle Ages and the New Age. Also, we are not limited with regard to topics for term papers (or la mémoire). For instance, I am writing about the French avant-garde in Russian Art. It is about the intersection of art history and national history.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ Daniil Stognii:

I enjoy studying in the programme very much because I am doing what I am passionate about: analysis of literary texts and comparative studies (comparative literary criticism). I feel inspired by the way the University lecturers work with students. Studying here is not a process of information bombardment, but primarily a dialogue. Also, the contribution of our French lecturers to the programme cannot be overstated. Their lectures offer excellent preparation for our future studies in the Sorbonne.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Dialogue philosophique entre Russie et France’ Nadezhda Osipova:

Studying at the University exceeded all my expectations. My student experience is so rich and exciting that I even failed to notice how in a short period of time I made tremendous progress in French. Additionally, every week we have French philosophy classes with a native speaker, which, undoubtedly, contributes to immersion in the French language and philosophical culture of France. Also, I would like to commend the academic staff of the Institute of Philosophy at St Petersburg University. They do take us seriously.

According to the SciVal information and analytical database, from 2013 to 2018, St Petersburg University research and academic staff participated in the preparation of 786 unique publications in collaboration with their colleagues from 139 research centres and universities in France. Do you combine studying with your scholarly research? What are your research interests?

Master’s student in the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ Marina Tokareva:

St Petersburg University organises many scholarship and competitive projects, conferences and seminars, where participation implies research work. I have never been a proponent of research for ‘the pure sake of knowing’. Even writing la mémoire following the French guidelines has been a new experience for me. I will definitely develop further the necessary skills, as my motivation is airtight and the teachers are always willing to help. My main interests are in the history of European literature and art from the late 19th to the middle of the 20th century. I think a cross-cultural approach is of the utmost importance here. I will be comparing the development of cultural phenomena in different countries. This is what the double degree programme involves.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ Daniil Stognii:

I am currently doing research for my master’s thesis. My bachelor’s thesis explored literary connections of the Belgian writer, poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck with the Russian Symbolists Andrei Bely and Alexander  Blok.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Dialogue philosophique entre Russie et France’ Nadezhda Osipova:

By the end of the first year, we are to submit a part of a research paper in French. In my paper I am going to explore the views of the French intellectuals of the Soviet Union. There is a wealth of material to study, and I think that it will be of interest to scholars from both countries.

During the 8th St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, the Philippe Habert Library was turned over to St Petersburg University by the French Embassy. At present, this collection of 10 thousand publications in French, many of which are interdisciplinary in nature, are accessible to all students of the University. How do you plan to use these resources?

Master’s student in the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ Marina Tokareva:

For my research paper, it is crucial that I have access to sources both in Russian and French. Therefore, the Philippe Habert Library is bound to become a valuable resource for me.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ Daniil Stognii:

I am very happy about it; and I will definitely be using the Philippe Habert Library because there are not many research resources on Maurice Maeterlinck in Russian.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Dialogue philosophique entre Russie et France’ Nadezhda Osipova:

I have borrowed books from the Philippe Habert Library a few times so far. It is very convenient, you know, because the publications in the library are both in Russian and French.

Can you share with us your professional aspirations? Are you planning to enrol in a doctoral programme?

Master’s student in the programme ‘La Russie et la France dans l’espace de l’histoire et de la culture’ Marina Tokareva:

I do not like getting ahead of myself, but I would like to contribute to the promotion of the Russian culture in the world. For this end, I have identified three forms of work – research, teaching and cultural and educational journalism. Therefore, I plan to enrol in a doctoral programme, while a master’s programme is the springboard you need in order to join the academe.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Littératures Russe et Français: Regards Croisés’ Daniil Stognii:

I would like to work with francophones in Russia and with Russian expatriates in France.

Master’s student in the programme ‘Dialogue philosophique entre Russie et France’ Nadezhda Osipova:

I consider a doctoral programme as a promising opportunity for me. However, I think that by pursuing further studies in my master’s programme I will gain unique experience and expertise that might affect my plans for the future.