ESPOL program at the Universite Catholique de Lille

Villanova University and Université Catholique de Lille

UCL building

Villanova students who spend a semester in Lille will complete a total of 15 VU credits in France.  All students will participate in a required language course, a required intercultural communication course, and 9 credits of Political Science courses at ESPOL.

Lille is an attractive and vibrant city with an overall student population of more than 100,000, nearly half the city population in a region with over 2 million inhabitants. The city is recognized as one of France’s most dynamic towns with a wide variety of cultural and sporting activities including fine museums, concert halls, and theaters. Famous throughout France and Europe for its warm and friendly atmosphere, the city is alive with cafés, clubs and restaurants.

Its location "at the crossroads of Europe" has made Lille a strategic location in the past as well as a vital city in Modern France. Its history is full of important events, from the different invasions to its role in WW2, which makes it an interesting city to explore. Wandering along its cobbled streets, students will walk past wonderful buildings and old monuments that tell its history. All of these factors make Lille an excellent city to spend a semester or year abroad!

Campus library

The fall semester begins with an intensive French Pre-course to prepare students for academic university programs, with content material of generalities and specificities of French culture.

Program : 4 hours of class each morning, plus 18.5 hours of conversation during the session plus 1 or 2 hours of personal study per day for ideal optimization.

In addition to the Intensive French pre-session, students are required to enroll in the following French language cluster during the semester:

E3-7       French for International Students 

The intensive French Pre-course isn’t included in the SPRING semester program. Students are required to enroll in the following French language class:
E3-7       French for International Students 




In order to guarantee a successful, fully immersive experience for Villanova students spending a semester to a year at la Catho, the program offers one course, optional  for ESPOL students with a background in French, whose explicit purpose is to help them better understand, and reflect upon, their new living environment. Students will receive a Villanova letter grade for this course, which will impact the VU GPA.

The three-credit Villanova course, taught entirely in French, consists of the following components and requirements:

  • a weekly seminar on intercultural communication, whose content will build upon, and prepare students for, the other components of the course
  • Five interdisciplinary cultural seminars on Lille and the North of France organized thematically (introduction to Lille’s history and its cityscape, Lille and the textile industry, coal mining in the North of France, gastronomy, and art and culture)
  • Five cultural excursions directly connected to each seminar (respectively : a guided tour of Lille’s center city, Vieux Lille, and Euralille; a visit of Roubaix and the Piscine de Roubaix; a visit of the Centre Historique Minier de Lewarde; and a visit of the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille)
  • A weekly, 1-hour conversation with a French student
  • Participation in a regular activity involving the Lille community. The range of activities can be very broad, including sports clubs, volunteering projects, weekly cooking lessons, danse lessons, book clubs, theatre groups, etc)
  • One student-organized trip to a French city other than Lille or Paris. Each student will provide a detailed itinirary to the instructor, who will help the student refine it before validating it. In order to make the trip a culturally worthy experience, students will not be permitted to travel with other native English speakers, and they will preferably travel with a French person of their acquaintance, with whom they will solely speak French.

Seminar on Intercultural Communication

Working Across Cultures: An Introduction to Elements of Intercultural Communication

The intercultural communication module is designed to allow the students to put in place an individual intercultural development plan based on their individual IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) profile. The objective of this plan is to allow the students to reflect on how best to use their time in France and the activities proposed by the program to develop their intercultural communication competence. A second IDI at the end of the program when the students have returned to the USA will allow all the participants (the students, faculty and administrators) to evaluate how successful the program has been in increasing the intercultural sensitivity of the participants.

The first IDI will be conducted via email before the students arrive in France. This will be followed up by an individual debrief during the pre-rentrée intensive French session where students will be invited to devise their individual intercultural development plan.

Classes will be designed based on the idea that the best way to help students develop intercultural sensitivity and competence is by helping them to reflect on their experiences as they occur. This means having a “just in time” rather than a “just in case” approach.

Students will be invited to use the techniques of ethnography and reflexivity to understand and analyze their experience. An adaptation of the PEER model will be proposed to the students as a framework to use in their interactions with others, especially for the preparation of their weekend trip. The PEER model involves students Preparing, Engaging, Evaluating and Reflecting on their interactions with cultural others.


Below are comments and links to the 5 interdisciplinary cultural seminars and excursions on Lille and the North of France. 

Seminar #1 Art & culture in Lille 

This seminar includes:

. a guided tour of Lille City Center, Vieux Lille, Euralille
. a Visit of the Palais des Beaux-Arts


Link to Palais des Beaux-Arts :

Seminar #2 History of Lille and the North

This seminar includes :
. A course on the History of Lille and the North and the connection with First World War.
. A visit of Tyne Cot Cemetery, the biggest British cemetery on the European Continent
. A visit of Ypres in Belgium and In Flanders Fields Museum (history of First World War in Flanders)
. A dinner at restaurant Makt 22 on Ypres Grand’Place
. The “Last Post” Military Ceremony at night 

Seminar #3 The industrial revolution + visit of the Centre Historique Minier de Lewarde

This seminar includes :

. A presentation of the industrial revolution in the North of France
. A visit of the Centre Historique Minier de Lewarde (coal Mine)
. A debate on the video of Germinal, a film inspired from Emile Zola’s novel 

Seminar #4 Les Châteaux de l’Industrie : how former factories were turned into fashion centers and art museums

This seminar includes :

. a course of this topic
. a visit of La Piscine de Roubaix : a former swimming pool turned into an art museum

Seminar #5 The French Gastronomy

This seminar includes


. a course at ISA Engineer school
. a visit of our sensorial analysis laboratory
. a tasting session of sweet and savory products
. a visit of our student brewery
. a dinner in a French restaurant in Lille city center 

Additional Coursework

Beyond the required language course, students will enroll additional courses taught at ESPOL with other international students and with French students. ESPOL has a different credit structure than Villanova and most ESPOL classes are roughly equivalent to a half VU class. The general guide suggests that 5-7 ECTS is equivalent to 3 VU credits. Therefore, Villanova students will enroll in up to eight additional classes while studying at ESPOL. To receive full credit, VU students must pass each course in the cluster with a "C" or better. All course clusters will be awarded transfer credit. 

Students participating in the Political Science ESPOL program must take three clusters listed below, along with a required French language cluster. Completion of three clusters and PSC 1200 will meet the requirements for a Certificate in European Politics. 


Cluster one = PSC 2380
Partis politiques et systemes partisans en Europe
Origines intellectuelles de la construction europeenne

Cluster two = PSC 4375
Political Sociology
Introduction to Sociology

Cluster three = PSC 4375
Political sociology of the economy
Migrations and Immigrations in Europe

Cluster four = PSC 2200
Introduction to the Law and Institutions of the EU
Public opinion and attitudes toward the EU



dorm life
Sample kitchen space in Lille dorm

All Villanova students will be housed in individual rooms in one of four co-ed on campus residences. In order to make each and every student’s immersion as complete as possible, no more than one Villanova student will be housed on each residence floor. Each room comes with a sink, a desk, and a fridge. Dorms offer shared bathrooms on every floor.

A light breakfast including a drink, French bread, butter and jam is served at no additional charge every morning from 7am to 9am. Washer and dryer in every dorm. Each dorm will also have a student lounge, study room, computer room, and shared kitchen open 24 hours a day. Students are responsible for their own dishes, which they bring back to their room after each meal. WiFi is available in every dorm. Each floor has its own RA (or rather RE : Responsable d’Étage). Access to dorms is secured by key or pass.

More information about living in Lille can be found in the Lille guide for International Students: Passeport pour Lille


Students can take advantage of the gyms on campus and participate in group exercise classes. There are also a wide variety of sporting clubs on campus for social engagement.


Each month, students will purchase a public transportation pass that gives them access to Lille’s comprehensive bus, subway, and tram system.  Once in Lille, students may also enroll in the V’lille bicycle sharing program for a yearly cost of 24.00 €. Details on the bike sharing program can be found in French on the program website.


Mid-August to mid-December


Early January to mid-May

Apply Now!

  • Student Application - Due to the Office of Education Abroad by April 1st for the fall 2015 semester.

Estimated Costs

  • Cost Worksheet - Estimate the costs for your study.
  • Language Assessment - Please give language assessment form to your most recent French professor. The professor will return the form to you in a sealed envelop and you will submit to the OEA with the rest of your application.


Villanova University has the right to make cancellations, substitutions, or changes in case of emergency or changed conditions, or in the interest of the program.

Program Snapshot

  • Program Duration: Semester Long
  • Credits: 15
  • Price:
  • Application

Follow Esther Lin's adventures studying in France during the spring 2014 semester!

French Visa Information

image of French visa

All non-EU passport holders will be required to obtain a French student visa prior to their semester in Lille. Information on the visa application process will be outlined after students have been accepted to the program.  Students can learn more about the French student visa process by visiting Campus France.