German and Contemporary Chinese Studies BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons German and Contemporary Chinese Studies
UCAS code
4 years full-time/year 3 out (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
German at A level 
IB score
32; including 5 in German at Higher Level, or 6 at Standard Level (B programme) 
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
20 (across RT11, RT21, RT71 and RT41)


This course offers you the opportunity to combine studies in German and Chinese languages, literatures, societies and cultures.
Read full overview

This course offers you the opportunity to combine studies in German and Chinese languages, literatures, societies and cultures. There is a wide range of optional modules available in literature, history, politics and society, allowing you to tailor your degree to your own specialist interests. By the end of your course, you will have a high level of expertise in German and Mandarin, and your international experience will help you stand out as a graduate.

Year one 

You will take core modules in both languages and introductions to German, Austrian, and Chinese literature, history and culture. Mandarin is available from beginners’ level.

Year two

In German and Chinese, your language studies will be consolidated to prepare you for the year abroad. You will take modules in literature, history, politics and society from a wide choice of modules in both German and Chinese Studies.

Year three

Spent abroad, divided between the two languages, on a work placement, a school assistantship, or at a German or Austrian university; you will also spend one semester studying Chinese language and culture at our own campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our Year Abroad page.

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies  statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.

Year four

You will develop your command of both languages and their use in increasingly sophisticated contexts and study optional modules drawn from the areas of literature, history, politics, society, media and linguistics. In German, you may also choose to write a dissertation.

More information 

See also the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures website.

Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including German at A level

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


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.

German 1
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 and 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.
Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1A

This module provides you with a foundation in Chinese phonetics, grammar and vocabulary in order to develop your competence in Mandarin Chinese. The focus is on communicative competence in both spoken and written language, and you will begin thorough training in use of the Mandarin Chinese script. As well as equipping you with skills in the language, the module also informs you about Chinese culture and society.

Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1B
This module builds on the knowledge you acquired in semester 1, introducing post-elementary grammatical structures and the phonology of Mandarin Chinese. You will learn to write notes, simple letters and a diary, as well as to use more diverse basic vocabulary for social and everyday situations. You will continue to expand your knowledge of contemporary society and culture.


Introduction to Contemporary China

This module intends to provide the fundamental knowledge of China's economic transformation and business development. It assists you to establish an understanding of issues including economic strategies, industrial sector transformation, investment, trade and business management.

China: Civilisations, Cultures and Societies

This module allows you to critically engage with current and past debates around the nature of Chinese 'culture' and 'civilisation'. It introduces some key ideas in the study of Chinese society and culture, such as Confucianism, ancestor worship, patriarchy, folklore, Chinese 'ethnicity', literati culture and diaspora, thus providing a conceptual basis for material covered in modules at higher levels.

Reading German Literature

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.

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.

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.


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.

Typical year two modules


German 2
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.
Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level 2A

This module consolidates the skills you have acquired in the first year and further develops your oral and written communicative ability in Mandarin, introducing its use in more complex situations and broadening your vocabulary. A range of activities, including listening exercises, discussion, reading comprehension and producing short written texts, will improve your fluency and confidence.

Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level 2B
This module further develops your use of and confidence with Mandarin in increasingly complex situations, in preparation for your year abroad. Teaching continues to focus on the four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and takes place in Mandarin wherever possible. By the end of the module you will have firm knowledge of Mandarin at intermediate level.


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. 

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.


Meaning and Context in Modern German

In this module we will first examine the principles informing the study of meaning (semantics), and the contexts that give rise to meaning (pragmatics) in the German language, e.g. rules of politeness. An overview of lexical and grammatical meaning will enable us to look at the relationship between words and consider ambiguity. The second half of the module will examine how the context of linguistic utterances is responsible for the construction of meaning. We will consider contexts responsible for speakers’ use of modal particles (ja, doch, aber, bloß). We then examine how speakers convey certain meanings without stating them explicitly (implicature). Finally, we will look at how contextual factors affecting language usage play a role in how speakers of German express politeness and impoliteness.


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.


Chinese Society and Economy

This module focuses on the political and social structure of contemporary China, from the perspectives of the state, society, families and individuals. The topics covered are organised around an understanding of the role in society and the economy of such concepts as trust, Guanxi (social relations) and social capital. You will also examine the rural-urban divide, nationhood, identity, and ethnicity.

  • The Rise of Modern China

In this module you will study the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. You will focus in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society. In this module you will have a two-hour lecture each week.

Social Change and Public Policy in China’s Reform Era

In this module you will learn how the Chinese central government has responded to socio-economic changes by issuing a number of key policy initiatives, most notably in the field of social security, health, education, labour, innovation and the environment. In the first part of the module participants will be sensitized about the interplay between socio-economic transformation, administrative reform and public policy making during China's reform era (1978).

In the second part of the module students will learn about the expanded spaces for participatory policy making in China by analysing case studies in all five substantive policy fields. As part of their course assignments students will be asked to write one 3,000 word essay and put insights into practice by developing group presentations on a selected public policy. This optional module will provide a socially relevant policy curriculum and help students develop necessary skills for a democratic practice of policy inquiry. For this module you will have one 2-hour lecture each week.
Typical year three modules

Spent abroad, divided between the two languages, on a work placement, a school assistantship, or at a German or Austrian university; you will also spend one semester studying Chinese language and culture at our own campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our Year Abroad page.

Options available to you may depend on the details of the Brexit settlement negotiated by the UK government. For more information, see our Year Abroad page and the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies statement on Brexit and our year abroad provision.
Typical year four modules


German 3

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.

Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A

The final year Mandarin Chinese course will develop your communicative competence in Mandarin Chinese in both spoken and written language to a high level. The module follows on from your work during your time abroad, enabling you to further improve your ability to employ your language skills in everyday formal and informal situations and across a broad range of contemporary applications.

Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3B
This module follows on from Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A, further consolidating your grammatical knowledge and your skills in expressing yourself in different real-life situations. You will improve your abilities to communicate in a range of registers and tackle issues involved in translating between Mandarin and English.


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 Medea myth in paintings, film, theatre and music.

China through Film and Literature

In this module you will first examine the close linkage between literature and cinema in China and the consequences and then explore trends in modern Chinese literature and cinema, with a primary focus on different genres and themes developed since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. By placing Chinese literature and film within their cultural, social and historical contexts, you will analyse, interpret and appreciate such phenomena. You will analyse individual texts in translation and films with English subtitles to increase your awareness of the major developments in literature and film as they are embedded in the wider changes in contemporary China. You will have one three-hour practical class each week studying this module.

Government and Politics of Taiwan and Hong Kong: Alternatives to Leninism

In this module you’ll learn about the two countries that choose a different pathway from mainland China whilst still under the leadership of the communist party. You’ll address a number of questions in order to gain a good understanding of the processes of these unique countries and be able to critically reflect on their differences with mainland China. You’ll have two hours of lectures and a one-hour seminar weekly studying this module.

Media & Communications in Globalising China

Media systems are critically important in any modern political system, and this module leads you directly to the heart of understanding how the media relates to contemporary society and politics in the People’s Republic of China. It introduces you to the unprecedented transformation in contemporary Chinese media and communication in the context of economic reforms, development of new media technologies and globalisation through a two hour weekly lecture.


Year abroad

Your year abroad will be divided between the two languages. You will experience a work placement or a school assistantship, or will study at a German or Austrian university. Students also spend one semester studying Chinese language and culture at our China Campus in Ningbo.

For more information see our  Year Abroad page.



You will have an understanding of German and Chinese culture and history, and will have acquired a high level of expertise in spoken and written German. Your Mandarin skills will be at an advanced level and your time spent overseas will demonstrate to employers that you are independent and adaptable.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 94.2% of undergraduates in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,336 with the highest being £31,000.* 

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course contains a period of study or work abroad between the second and final year of the degree programme. Students' language skills and cultural understanding are assessed through a mix of presentations and written assignments upon their return to Nottingham.

This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

Mandarin is compulsory when spending the second semester at Ningbo Campus.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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