German Studies second year modules

Core modules:

Beginners level: Intensive Ab Initio German III & IV - 40 credits (in two 20-credit modules)

This module consolidates and further extends skills acquired in Intensive Ab Initio German I & II. Most main (remaining) grammatical structures and functions of the language will be dealt with through classroom exercises reinforced by private study. Students will become proficient in a wide range of less predictable and complex situations and functions. Practical language classes will focus on productive and receptive skills helping students to achieve effective communicative competence in even unpredictable situations. Simple texts for translations from German into English and vice versa will be introduced. Wide-ranging aspects of modern Germany will be integrated at appropriate points by using a variety of materials: complex authentic texts, dialogues, short presentations, interviews and semi-authentic radio & TV programmes. Students will be given the opportunity to work in a group as well as individually. Strategies for independent learning will continue to be developed. Discussion and debating skills in German will also be developed and enhanced. (Anyone on the beginners’ pathway wanting to take 60 credits in German will also take Introduction to German Cinema and German Political Parties and Party Government: see below for details.)

Advanced level: German Language II - 20 credits

The module consists of three strands:

  • Grammatik und Ubersetzung II: An extension of the 'Grammatik und Ubungen' strand of German Language I, offering further training in modern German grammar and usage, and translation work both from and into German.
  • Sprachpraxis II: An extension of the 'Sprachpraxis I' element of German Language I, continuing to use the textbook introduced in that module and focusing oral work, comprehension skills, vocabulary building and the analysis of contemporary linguistic registers.
  • Landeskunde-Vorlesung: A weekly lecture in German, dealing in this semester primarily with aspects of German and Austrian arts and culture (literature, theatre, film, music etc)

Advanced level (for those students taking 80 credits): Texts in Context: From the Middle Ages to the ‘Age of Goethe’ - 10 credits

In the course of this module we will study a selection of literary texts written between the medieval period and the end of the so-called 'Age of Goethe'. A key focus of the module will be to discuss these texts in their wider social, cultural and intellectual contexts. The module will also offer an introduction to the broad outlines of German literature in this period through a focus on selected texts. The module will seek to develop students’ analytical skills by dealing with a number of texts from different genres.

Optional modules:

Bühne und gesellschaftlicher Alltag nach 1945 - 20 credits

The aim of this course is to deepen students’ understanding of social contexts and cultural life in post-1945 Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Students should be able to reflect upon and deepen the cultural awareness acquired in this course during their year abroad. During the first semester, students will have a weekly one-hour class covering the history of German theatre after 1945. In the second semester, there are fewer group meetings and students will work mainly independently on a group project dealing with a chosen aspect of contemporary German, Austrian or Swiss society or culture.

Wirtschaftsdeutsch - 20 credits

The aim of the module is to give an introduction to economic aspects in contemporary Germany and German culture. The module will focus on companies and company structure in Germany as well as providing an introduction to interpreting in a business setting.

Old High German Language and Literature - 10 credits

The module will seek to introduce students to the main linguistic features (e.g. umlaut in OHG, OHG dialectology) and literary works (e.g. Das Hildebrandslied) of the Old High German period (circa 750-1100 AD).

Introduction to German Cinema - 10 credits

This module will offer an overview of German cinema history. Topics covered will normally include the early flowering of German Cinema in the Weimar Republic, German cinema under National Socialism, the cinematic production of the divided Germany and contemporary German film. At each stage, films will be related to their cultural and political context as appropriate. The course will be structured around a series of key films, but key movements in German cinema will also be discussed as appropriate. A key focus of the course will be the analysis of cinematic techniques, and students will be expected to develop their knowledge of relevant technical vocabulary.

German Political Parties & Party Government - 10 credits

Although the German constitution explicitly states that the political parties are only one of many participants in the political 'Meinungsbildnugsprozess', the practice looks quite different. Indeed, political parties have become the predominant force in German politics. They are the backbone of the German political system. This module attempts to analyse the German version of party government and the eminent role that parties play in public life in order to understand German politics and democracy. It aims to give a comprehensive introduction to the major issues concerning the working of the 'Parteienstaat' and 'Parteiendemokratie'. It will look at the development of the party system since 1945, examine the role and functions of parties, study the major political parties and analyse the current debate about the future of party government.

Thomas Mann - 10 credits

Thomas Mann (1875 -1955) is one of the finest and most fascinating German writers of the modern era. He is also one of the more controversial German cultural figures of the twentieth century. The module (two hours per week) provides an introduction to his methods and changing concerns as a writer and covers a broad range of textual, interpretative, literary and political questions. The module traces Thomas Mann's development as an author and explores in detail a representative selection of his shorter fiction. Texts prescribed will normally include Tristan (1903), Tonio Kröger (1903), Der Tod in Venedig (1912), Mario und der Zauberer (1929) and Bruder Hitler (1939).

Franz Kafka - 10 credits

This module provides an introduction to Franz Kafka’s fiction. We will examine in detail a representative sample of Kafka's fiction and analyse Kafka's methods and concerns as a writer. Written during different periods of Kafka’s life, these texts will allow you to explore the variety and complexity of this author’s writings. The seminars will offer you the opportunity to practise and further develop your skills in close reading and critical discussion of complex literary works.

Representations of Women in 19th Century German Literature - 10 credits

This module will explore a selection of female writers and female protagonists in German literature between 1801 and 1904. Although it self-evidently cannot attempt to cover a totality of ideas about women, it will seek to enable students to develop a knowledge of and sensitivity towards the topic.

Post-War German Literature - 10 credits

This text-based course explores developments in (West) German Literature from 1945 to the early 1960s. It examines the following key issues and concepts: "Nullpunkt", inner emigration, "Sprachkritik", "Restauration". It also considers the socio-political background of the period. Students will normally read four texts and study one in depth.

Knights, Maidens and Priests - 10 credits

The module will study some short works from the medieval and early modern periods of German literature: Hartmann von Aue’s Der arme Heinrich, Der Stricker’s Der Pfaffe Amis, and poems or short pieces by Mechthild von Magdeburg, Oswald von Wolkenstein, and Martin Luther. These will be analysed as literary texts, but also as sources of information about and criticism of medieval culture and society. Particular emphasis will be placed on themes relating to the three social groupings named in the title; and hence the problematic but fruitful relationship between religious and secular perspectives and stereotypes will be an especially important recurring theme.


Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year, for instance because a member of staff is on study leave or too few students opt for it. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.