Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Arts with French)

aristotle-231x300“We call those studies liberal, then, which are worthy of a free man: they are those through which virtue and wisdom are either practised or sought and by which the body and mind is disposed to the best things. “

Pier Paolo Vergerio,

The Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth (c. 1402.)


At Chavagnes the study of the humanities is in the great tradition of liberal education. This kind of education is not simply a dry theory, nor is it restricted to those subjects now named humanities, although its principles are mostly clearly seen in our teaching of these disciplines.

Liberal education is the transmission of our great Western cultural patrimony to our young.  But it is more than that: its aim is to make every student his own man: free and capable of using his reason, fit to take part in that “great conversation” begun in fifth-century Athens and among the people of Israel and continuing to this day.

At the centre of that great conversation is the Incarnate Word, “the Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ … the centre of the universe and of history”. (Redemptor Hominis)

Mr Eric de la Barre of ICES (the Catholic university of the Vendée) and Mr Ferdi McDermott, Principal of Chavagnes Studium.

The Chavagnes Liberal Arts degree is wide-ranging, but not simply so as to stimulate the interest and curiosity of its students. It proposes a complete intellectual formation that provides a coherent world view. In the fast-changing modern world, this is an especially important task, in the face of the  “segmentation of knowledge” which, “with its splintered approach to truth and consequent fragmentation of meaning, keeps people today from coming to an interior unity,” St Pope John Paul II emphasises: “taking up what has been taught repeatedly by the Popes for several generations and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council itself, I wish to reaffirm strongly the conviction that the human being can come to a unified and organic vision of knowledge. This is one of the tasks which Christian thought will have to take up through the next millennium of the Christian era.” Our new 2-year Liberal Arts degree course provides young Catholics with an opportunity to receive a solid cultural and intellectual formation before making important career choices, in order to help them to participate in the re-evangelisation of culture in whichever field they subsequently pursue.

Taught through the medium of English and inspired by similar courses in the USA and Australia, the Chavagnes Liberal Arts programme will be the first of its kind in Europe. Admission to the course will be open to those with an appropriate level of intellectual ability and sufficient prior education in humanities and also, preferably, in mathematics (corresponding to the French baccalaureate or UK A-levels.)

Because of our existing infrastructure and team of gifted teaching staff, we are able to offer an environment where music, sport and Catholic community life provide an excellent setting for young people to grow in faith and maturity as they deepen their knowledge of the western intellectual tradition.

The course contains five main areas of study: Literature, History, Philosophy & Theology, Mathematics & Science, French/Latin. Fuller details of the approach adopted in each subject can be found on the subject pages. The Content and assessment schedule below gives further information.

Teaching and academic credit

Over the 2-year intensive course, the teaching will be provided by two main partners, Chavagnes and ICES (Catholic university of the Vendée), with additional input from the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL).

We have extended our first session by a six weeks in order to provide a more solid grounding French formation, to be provided by ICES. In Year 1 the teaching will consist of 45 weeks in Chavagnes/ICES, including the overseas study visits mentioned in the programme; the second year will consist of 40 weeks under the auspices of Chavagnes/ICES, but also including overseas residentials, including a philosophy module in Lublin.

As well adopting a diachronic approach (moving through historical periods in the themes outlined in each subject area and showing the evolution of western thought) there is also a dynamic of increasing bilinguality underlying the programme; for this reason the Chavagnes/ICES teaching in Year 1 will be 70%  Chavagnes and 30% ICES, with ICES mainly dealing with French language tuition. In Year Two the split will be ICES 60%, Chavagnes 40%, as students will by that stage be able to follow lectures in French.

The academic validation envisaged is a double validation a French ‘Diplôme universitaire’ from ICES, for a total of 180 ECTS, with additional UK validation as a BA (Hons). The resultant degree would be recognised across the 48 countries of the European Higher Education Area as a Bachelor of Arts degree providing access to Masters level study.  As this is a pilot scheme, the details of our programme are liable to modification in the future.


  1. To provide an opportunity for young people to gain a solid intellectual formation through the study of the Liberal Arts in a strong academic and Catholic environment which includes daily participation in the Sacred Liturgy.
  2. To provide a degree-level formation to equip young people to teach core subjects to High School pupils aged up to 16, and the humanities to UK Advanced Level or the USA’s AP tests (up to age 18), including French as a foreign language.
  3. To provide an ideal pre-seminary grounding in the Liberal Arts for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood.



The Chavagnes Studium BA Hons in the Liberal Arts with French
is offered in partnership with
ICES, Institut Catholique d’Etudes Supérieures:
the Catholic University of the Vendée.



Content and assessment schedule for the BA in the Liberal Arts with French (presented in French and English) :