Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (German)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap 40 Location Durham


  • German Language 1 (I) (GERM1011) or an equivalent to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: German Language 2 (GERM2021) or German Language 2 and Year Abroad (GERM2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To acquaint students with representations of historical events and figures that have played a central role in shaping notions of German national identity.
  • These may include the myth of Frederick II ("the Great") of Prussia and of Prussia itself, Luther and the Reformation, the Romantic/Wagnerian image of a heroic Deutsches Mittelalter and the Faust figure, which was used to construct the image of a faustisches Deutschland.
  • In any given year, students will study two of these topic areas in detail, investigating literary and political texts, as well as films and pictorial representations.


  • In any given academic session, two topic areas will be covered, dealing with public representations of heroic figures and narratives relating, e.g. to the Middle Ages, Luther/the Reformation, the Faust figure, and Prussia.
  • The teaching material will typically include canonical narratives, journalistic and propagandistic texts from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as pictorial representations (history paintings, cartoons, portraits), film extracts and multimedia material, e.g. from exhibitions and from the Internet.
  • In addition, secondary sources, ranging from textual and literary criticism to film and art theory, will be used to foster critical reflection on the source material and the formulation of insights into the emergence and development of heroes and myths, and their socio-political significance in the course of German history.
  • This module is taught and examined in German.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the course the students will have:
  • become familiar with two major themes of German historical self-perception and with techniques of analysing these in diverse media (historical documents and research literature, text, film, pictorial representations),
  • acquired an enhanced understanding of the relationships between recorded historical events, scholarly historiography and historical narrative as a medium of national self-perception and stereotyping.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will increase their proficiency in written argumentation and presentation in the target language.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • The course will consist of plenary sessions, seminars and tutorials.
    • Plenary sessions will be based on both lectures and student presentations.
    • Lectures will familiarise students with the relevant socio-historical context and introduce the key theoretical and critical issues raised by the texts under consideration.
    • By preparing for seminar presentations, students will develop skills in independent learning, rapid critical reading, synthesis, and analytic thinking, all of which will be further promoted by preparation for seminars on a weekly basis, and by guided discussion in the seminars themselves.
    • The course will be taught mainly in German and assessed wholly in German.
    • Through participation in classes, students will thus also increase their oral proficiency in the target language.
    • Students will produce two formatively assessed commentaries over the course of the year which will train them to construct coherent, lucid arguments in syntactically and grammatically sound German.
    • Feedback on formative assignments will be given within a fortnight of the submission deadline, and will allow students to integrate tutors' comments into their summative work.
    • Summative commentaries will reproduce the format of the formative work.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
    Practicals 2 Termly 1 hour 4
    Lectures 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
    Preparation and Reading 165
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Commentary Component Weighting: 50%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Commentary 2,000 words 100%
    Component: Commentary Component Weighting: 50%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Commentary 2,000 words 100%

    Formative Assessment:


    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University