Contemporary questions


This method conference aims to prepare students for the 3rd written eligibility tests of the entrance examinations to the ENA (external, internal, 3rd competitive exam) and for the exams of entrance into the high-level civil service categories (category A+). As stated in the ENA competition rules, this written exam is related to a "contemporary question of a general nature on the role of public authorities and their relationship to society" (decree of 6/03/2015). The aim of this class is to develop students' ability to construct a structured personal argument by using and combining multidisciplinary knowledge. The test involves using knowledge in the literary, philosophical, historical, and, more broadly, social and human sciences (SHS). The class covers themes relating to the contemporary world and will involve regular testing, in the form of detailed plans and mock exams. The aim is twofold: to consolidate students’ knowledge in the field of SHS and to train them in essay writing methodology.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

A good level of general knowledge: knowledge of societal issues, ability to place the challenges and implications related to these issues in their historical and philosophical context. In the light of recent reforms, a good level of general knowledge is now also based on a good command of social sciences, particularly political science.


  • de Balzac H., Les Employés, Paris, Folio-Gallimard, 1985.
  • Birnbaum P., Où va l’État ?, Paris, Le Seuil, 2018.
  • Chevallier J., L’État post-moderne, Paris, LGDJ, 5e édition 2017.
  • Maury S. et al., Les politiques publiques, Paris, La Documentation française, 2018.
  • Picq J., Une histoire de l’État en Europe, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 3e édition, 2015.

Educational formula

Bibliographic monitoring with a focus on certain intellectual journals (Le Débat, Commentaire, Revue française d'administration publique, etc.); reading of articles/works prior to each session; joint reflection on a composition subject; development of study questions and plans; regular test practice limited time (mock exams).

In brief

Year Fifth year

Teaching languageFrench

Number of hours 24.0

ValidationContinuous assessment

Mandatory teaching



Educational manager :
Saint-Martin Fanny [+]

Gaignard Paul [+]

Déloye Yves [+]