Master “Etudes culturelles, parcours monde anglophone” (ECMA) and interdisciplinarity: To specialise or not to specialise


“Jack of all trades, master of none”, so goes the saying, implying that specialising in one talent is better than diversifying your interests. However, it is sometimes completed with the following: “but oftentimes better than a master of one”, which means the opposite. This is how entrepreneur Jodie Cook begins her 2021 article. As in the title, she argues that being a jack of all trades is “essential” for business, while she ascribes specialisation to academics. But can we still find value in generalisation, even in the academic world?

Typically, French students of English are encouraged to specialise: the further you go in your studies, the more you are asked to choose between literature, civilisation and linguistics, or between different periods of time and countries. Yet, in practice, researchers are free to adopt a far broader scope of research, as does historian Owen Davies, for example. He is a specialist, yes, but of a topic (magic), which allows for interdisciplinarity in his research, meaning that he stands at the crossroad of multiple disciplines, areas, or time periods and that he can do comparative work.

Moreover, French master’s degrees in English greatly vary, making it difficult for aspiring students to choose where to study.  In hopes of making this choice easier, I have consulted students’ guides for ten degrees, across France, and focused on their relationship with interdisciplinarity. The vast majority are research-based masters (LLCER / Etudes Anglophones), but one of them is a “anglais de spécialité” master, meaning that it teaches specialised vocabulary and practices. It appears that the ECMA master’s (Cultural Studies of the English-speaking World) at Aix-Marseille Université might be one of the few to let students choose.

The universities claim to instill a taste for interdisciplinarity in their students, but the application of this principle is not always evident in their curriculum, as they require students to have a “major” – the same discipline as their thesis. In some cases, as for the university of Nantes, the “major” even amounts for more of the final grade, and failing to pass the classes associated with the said “major” prevents students from passing the year. Not only are students compelled to choose their preferred discipline before they even enroll in the master’s, they also must dedicate more time to that discipline, otherwise they risk not passing the year. Among the ones I had a look at, only two curricula (those of the universities of Poitiers & Toulouse) made interdisciplinarity truly a priority, by offering mandatory classes in all disciplines.  The ECMA master’s sits somewhere in the middle, as it gives students complete freedom to choose what they want to study. Depending on the semester, students must choose two to four classes from a thematic programme that spans across all disciplines and time periods. This way, they are totally free to only choose classes in their discipline, or to diversify their interests. The classes are organised around themes, or “programmes” rather than in terms of discipline, and students are free to pick and choose from different programmes.

The ECMA master’s is not the only one to work in such a way, as the Master Etudes Anglophones from the university of Bordeaux-Montaigne functions similarly. However, first year ECMA masters students must attend translation and linguistics classes, whereas Bordeaux-Montaigne includes these disciplines in the available options. Since there are master’s degrees dedicated to translation studies, it is rare to have translation classes in English studies, especially as part of the mandatory classes. In addition to translation and linguistics, ECMA students must follow introductory classes to “civilisation” and literature. Thus, although they are free to choose between specialising in their preferred discipline or opting for diversified classes, they still experience some amount of contact with the other disciplines. I believe it is greatly beneficial to them, as it allows them to take an informed decision about their preferred disciplines and areas of research.

Furthermore, French studies of English are, by definition, interdisciplinary since the addition of “civilisation” – a specifically French discipline which encompasses many fields of study, as Jean-Paul Revauger, former president of the CRECIB (Centre for Research in British Civilisation) explains in an interview published in 2019 (Garbaye & Leydier, 2). As the introduction to the ECMA master’s underlines, “pluri/inter/transdisciplinarity” helps “take down the walls between disciplines to better apprehend the complex and intertwined reality of the English-speaking world” (Master ECMA, “Présentation générale”).

Confronting yourself to the methods and perspectives of other disciplines and researchers is thus the principle behind cultural studies of English, in France, as well as the key to broadening your horizons and to be a better researcher.


Cook, Jodie. ‘Why Being A Jack Of All Trades Is Essential For Success’. Forbes,

Garbaye, Romain et GillesLeydier, “Civilisation et interdisciplinarité : Un entretien avec Jean-Paul Revauger”, Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXIV-1 | 2019, Online since 22 March 2019. URL:; DOI:

Master Études anglophones’. Université Bordeaux-Montaigne.  12 Oct. 2023,

‘Master 1 Etudes Anglophones’. Université Lumière Lyon 2.

‘Master Langues, littératures, et civilisations étrangère et régionales. Parcours Etudes anglophones’. Université Grenoble Alpes. 10 Nov. 2023.

Master Langues et Sociétés – Parcours Études Anglophones’. Université de Lille.

‘Master Langues, littératures et civilisations étrangères et régionales – LLCER Anglais’. Université de Nantes.

‘Master LLCER – Parcours Anglais de spécialité | Études Anglophones’. Université Paris Cité..

‘Master Langues, littératures et civilisations étrangères et régionales (LLCER)’. Université de Poitiers.  

‘Master Langues, littérature et civilisations étrangères et régionales  – Parcours : Etudes anglophones.’ Université de Strasbourg.

‘MASTER LLCER Etudes anglophones’. Université de la Sorbonne.

‘MASTER LLCER | Parcours Études Anglophones’. Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès.

‘Owen Davies’. University of Hertfordshire (Research Profiles).

‘Présentation Générale’. ‘Master ECMA’. Aix-Marseille Université. .

Photo credits: Images site flickr, licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

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