Introduction to German Studies
This is the core module for first year students of German. We look at the history of German and introduce you to the linguistic study of the language, and at a range of themes and styles in German literature linked to key areas of German and Austrian culture such as gender relations, migration, and race. Further topics address the study of German film, and German history with a focus on recent history since German reunification in 1990. The module gives students insight into the different areas we teach and also the skills to explore these areas in more depth in subsequent modules.
Building on the four skill areas of A-level work (writing, reading, listening and speaking), this module aims to develop students’ command of German towards the level required in year 2. It consolidates students’ understanding of grammatical structures, and improves their spoken and written German. We will work with authentic texts and media, including journalistic articles, poems and short stories, videos, clips from TV programmes in German, news items. You will have three contact hours each week including oral classes, and will be assessed in a variety of different exercises including an oral exam, a listening comprehension test, essay writing, translation into English, grammar exercises and a presentation in German.
German 1 - Beginners
This module is designed to take students from absolute beginners to a level commensurate with the A2 level in the European reference framework for language qualifications. At the end of the module, students should be able to comprehend and respond to texts on a range of topics and engage in everyday social conversation. You’ll have 6 contact hours per week on this intensive beginners’ module, working on reading comprehension, grammar, listening exercises, speaking skills, and writing short texts such as emails and essays in the second semester. We follow a structured course and use a textbook, but you’ll also be working with authentic texts from the very first week of German classes, which will help you develop a more extensive vocabulary and show you just how fast you’re progressing.
You may choose three out of four of the listed modules
Language and Context
This module considers the main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and explores how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You will look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you will have a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar per week.
Beginnings of English
You will be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study Old and Middle English texts. In this module you will familiarise yourself with the knowledge needed for reading and understanding medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you will have two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour seminar per week.
This module will introduce some of the core skills necessary for literary studies through focus on specific poetry and prose texts. You will address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument and handling critical material. For this module you will have a combination of lectures and seminars.
Drama, Theatre, Performance
This module, taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, and lectures, considers key concepts in the study of dramatic texts, theatre history and performance. The module frames these concepts, taking into consideration questions about who performs, where, to whom, why and how, through explorations of key moments in the Western theatrical tradition.
Introduction to German Film Studies
This module will provide an introduction to the history of German film-making, focusing on some of the most significant films from the silent period (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari), the late Weimar Republic (M), Nazi Germany (Triumph des Willens) and the post-unification period (Good Bye Lenin!). We will study the development of film styles over the past century and discuss the films’ narratives in relation to developments in German society. The module will also introduce critical tools for the analysis of visual media and discuss a variety of critical approaches in Film Studies.
Reading German Literature 1
In this module we study two shorter narratives and a number of poems in depth, providing you with an overview of key literary developments between the 18th century and the present. Authors studied currently include Goethe, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Schnitzler, and Ingeborg Bachmann. Classes combine detailed textual analysis with discussion of literary, cultural and historical contexts. This is therefore both an introduction to literary history and methodology and to German and Austrian cultural history.
Linguistics: The Sounds of German
This module investigates the sounds of German and how they can be described accurately (“phonetics and phonology”). Students learn to transcribe German using the notation of the International Phonetic Association. We look in particular at aspects of German pronunciation that are hard to master because they are different to English. We will also look at how foreign words (including English words) are integrated into the German sound system, and at regional variation in spoken German. Developing accurate listening and transcription skills will form a major part of the module, as will improving your own pronunciation.
Hitler and the Third Reich
Although the Third Reich is very well researched, it still raises many questions: How could Adolf Hitler gain so much power? How could a whole nation ‘fall’ for the Nazi ideology? Why the Jews? In this module we will discuss and research Nazi politics as well as its society and culture. We will consider propaganda, the press, youth and women’s organisations, as well as the role of films, art and literature. Theoretical writings on fascist ideology will provide us with relevant background knowledge and we will work with original German materials such as documents, newspapers, photos, posters, films and speeches.
Dutch 1: (Inter Faculty Dutch 1a and 1b)
Single and joint honours students of German on the post-A level German programme are able to take modules in Dutch language as part of their German allocation of modules. These modules assume no prior knowledge of the language. They introduce the basic structure of the language through topics relating to social and everyday life in the country. The four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are covered together with a study of the grammar involved in using the language at this level.
In English, you will choose from a wide range of options to develop deeper understanding of the issues and critical approaches across at least two areas of the discipline, depending on what areas of literature, language and drama most interest you.
Your German language studies will be consolidated to prepare for the year abroad. You will also take modules in literature, history, politics and society. Modules in German culture and media are also available.
This module will consolidate students’ proficiency in the four skill areas of German 1 (writing, reading, listening and speaking) and develop these further. Working on texts from newspapers and other sources, we will discuss translation issues, grammatical structures, linguistic analysis and textual comparison, oral presentation, and essay and CV writing. The module will use texts that cover a broad range of general, journalistic and academic topics, as well as those that will help to prepare you for work or study during your year abroad. You’ll have three contact hours on this module.
German 2 - Beginners
This module will build on the skills acquired in the first year intensive beginners’ language module. Your skills in writing, reading, listening and speaking will be consolidated and developed further. We will work with authentic texts and media, including journalistic articles, poems and short stories, videos, clips from TV programmes and news items and focus on both academic and non-academic registers. You will have four contact hours each week, and will be assessed in a variety of different exercises. The module will help you work towards your year abroad, and will use texts that develop your knowledge of Germany and Austria.
You must choose three modules in English covering at least two of the following areas:
Literature 1500 to the present
Each of the modules offered will provide a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.
English language and applied linguistics
Building on the study of English language undertaken in year one, your second year language modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.
Medieval languages and literatures
You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become more expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.
Drama and performance
Year two modules provide the opportunity to develop approaches from the first year by studying 20th and 21st-century theatre; by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation’s theatre.
For a sample of typical modules from each area please see our single honours BA English listing.
Introduction to Literary Translation
The module provides an introduction to literary translation from German into English. We will analyse key issues of cultural difference and historical distance by comparing different translations of the same original text. Students will compose their own translation of a literary text of their choice and summarise their translation strategy. Students will improve their understanding of the linguistic and cultural differences between English and German, develop enhanced translation skills, and gain insights into literary texts.
Rundfunk und Fernsehen in Deutschland
In this module we will study the role of radio and television in Germany. We will investigate the cultural and economic functions of those media in German society and analyse the relationship between public and commercial broadcasters. We will study a range of programming formats such as news, infotainment, soaps, and quiz shows and discuss a variety of critical approaches to understanding modern media. Intercultural issues will be explored through comparisons with British television.
Reason and its Rivals: From Kant to Freud
In this module we will examine a selection of theoretical approaches to modernity, beginning with Kant’s assertion of individual reason as the founding stone of enlightened social organisation. We will move on to examine how Marx and Engels, Nietzsche and Freud all interrogated Kant’s position in their work. Our discussions will touch on issues such as the nature of the individual subject, the role of culture, as well as competing ideas of the status of reality as based in social conditions or the product of the will, drives, or ideology.
The Fairy Tale in German Culture
This module will explore key moments in the history of the fairy tale in German culture, from their 19th century appropriation to underpin notions of a national folk culture to critical reworkings of fairy tales. We will use a number of different approaches in analysing the tales and investigating their cultural significance, including Marxism, feminism and psychoanalysis. Primary material will include folk tales, literary fairy tales and fairy tale films such as the Brothers Grimm Kinder- und Hausmärchen collection, East German fairy tale films, Weimar proletarian tales, and Lotte Reiniger’s silhouette animations.
The Life and Demise of the GDR
This module investigates GDR society over four decades of communist rule and considers social changes in Eastern Germany after the demise of the GDR. We will examine the principles of communist ideology that the Socialist Unity Party attempted to legitimise as the only viable alternative to fascism. We will also look at how people negotiated their lives within officially imposed ideological structures. Finally we will look at how a new kind of “public authority” during the Wende period in the GDR triggered the disintegration of communist power structures.
Dutch II (Inter Faculty Dutch 2a and 2b)
Post-A level students of German may continue with Dutch, building on the level achieved in the first year of study. Level 2 Dutch assumes a basic knowledge of the language at approximately GCSE standard. These modules revise and develop basic structures. The four skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing are expanded to enable participation in discussions with reasonable fluency and accuracy. There is increasing use of the target language in these modules as well as an emphasis on working with authentic Dutch materials.
Stories of War, Revolution and Globalisation
Building on the introductions to literary study in year 1, this second-year module combines the detailed discussion of stories (Novellen) from the 19th century with a closer look at the ways in which German literature engages with European and world history between 1789 and 1914. Historical themes include the French Revolution, the memory of Napoleon, and the impact of industrialisation and colonial globalisation in the 19th century. Authors include Joseph von Eichendorff (the quintessential German Romantic poet), Wilhelm Hauff (one of the first modern professional writers), and Wilhelm Raabe (a leading representative of German Realism).
You will choose from a wide range of modules enabling you to specialise in key areas of English. Joint honours students enjoy the same wide range of final year options in English and German as single honours students. In German, you will develop your command of German to a high level and use it in increasingly sophisticated contexts. You will also study optional modules drawn from the areas of literature, history, politics, society, media and linguistics.
This advanced German language module will further enhance students’ practical command and effective understanding in writing, reading, listening and speaking. Working with the support of native speakers, we will use seminar time to engage in class discussions as well as work on texts and practise writing skills in a variety of registers. Students are encouraged to reflect on their year abroad. We will also work on translation skills in this module. Classes will use a variety of authentic German texts to develop students’ translation skills towards professional standards for translation into English.
Selected German Modules
Translation and Linguistic Exchange
This optional module offers in-depth discussion of grammatical, lexical and idiomatic aspects of German and English as well as issues of translation, register and cultural difference. Regular practical work on translation from and into German in small groups of native speakers of both target languages will not only instigate an intellectual discussion of linguistic and translation issues but will also offer an opportunity to explore each language from at least two cultural perspectives. Nottingham students will work with exchange students from Germany and/or Austria in this module.
German Studies: Dissertation
This module involves in-depth study of a topic in German Studies, and will normally relate to a second year German module. Teaching will consist of regular individual consultations with a designated tutor. Possible topics could include linguistics (e.g. the use of Anglicisms in German), German cinema, German history, theatre, literature, gender studies, Heimat. The dissertation may be 10 or 20 credits, depending on what is most appropriate for the student’s individual programme of study. A 10 credit dissertation is 4,000 words in length, and a 20 credit dissertation is 7,000 words. Dissertations may be written in English or in German.
Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was one of the most fascinating and culturally productive periods of German history, but it was equally riven by crises and violent conflicts. Weimar culture reflected and responded to these developments, experimenting with new media and exploring topical issues. A wide range of materials such as literary texts, poetry, reportage, films, photographs, aesthetic and political programmes will be studied to analyse the period. Topics will include the impact of the Great War, changing gender roles, the rise of unemployment and political violence, mass culture and everyday life.
Mythology in German Literature
Literature uses ancient mythology as a rich source to describe powerful emotions, cunning politics or psychological drama. This module will explore how selected German writers engage with the myth of Medea, the powerful wife of Jason who – according to the Classical myth - kills the sons she loves to hurt Jason. We will look at how the myth is used, changed and reinvented in texts written between 1926 and 1998. We will consider theoretical writings on mythology and also look at the the Medea myth in paintings, film, theatre and music.
The Language of Social Media
The aims of this linguistics module are twofold: 1. we will investigate the nature of language use in various social media e.g. Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, email, texts; 2. we will experiment with using social media as a means of gathering reliable quantifiable data on actual everyday language use. We will also focus on the challenges that the analysis of the language used in social media presents to linguistic theory. Several aspects of linguistics will be investigated, including pragmatics, morphology and syntax, sociolinguistics, borrowing, and language change. You will conduct original research, using social media as a source of linguistic data.
Communicating and Teaching Languages for Undergraduate Ambassadors
This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools as teaching assistants and to act as role-models (for more information please check uas.ac.uk). Students split their time between the university-based support seminar and their allocated school, where they will work in the language department as an assistant. This may involve one-to-one tuition, small group teaching or extra-curricular activities in the context of the school’s language provision. Students will develop a special teaching project and will be supported in their activities by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and their contact teacher at the school. Typically there will be a fortnightly seminar on campus and 7 half-days spent at school. This module is especially suitable for students with prior experience as a language assistant during the year abroad.
The final year is when all the different strands of your teaching and learning experience as an undergraduate culminate in the opportunity to demonstrate and apply all the different kinds of skills you have acquired in researching a topic, extended analysis of specialist themes and areas, and in independent study.
You will have the opportunity to study a range of authors, genres, linguistic approaches, and textual forms and contexts, in both national and international contexts, thinking about English in the broadest possible terms. You will also have the opportunity to specialise in areas for which you have developed genuine aptitude and passion during your undergraduate career.
A typical list of options available can be found on our single honours BA English listing.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.