Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (German)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • German Language 2 (GERM2021) or German Language 2 [for students taking a year abroad] (GERM2111) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Arts and all Joint and 'with' programmes: German Language 4 (GERM3071). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • The module may not be studied in combination with Imaging the Nation (MELA3121)


  • To introduce students to the advanced study of photography.
  • Thereby also to introduce students to one of the most important and interesting periods of German history.
  • To develop students' research skills.
  • To complement the current provision of research-led final-year modules in German, responding to student demand for greater choice and more emphasis on visual culture.
  • To provide a route into MLAC's taught MA programme in the Photographic Image.


  • The module will cover the salient aspects of the photographic culture of Weimar Germany, including the popular illustrated press, artistic movements, the interaction of photography and literature, the theorists of photography in Weimar Germany, and the legacy of Weimar photography. Precise topics may include:
  • The Illustrated Press: Weimar and the Origins of Photojournalism.
  • Responses to the technical media on the right and the left: theories of photography.
  • Montage and the Avantgarde.
  • Photography and Neue Sachlichkeit.
  • Writers and Photography.
  • Beyond Weimar: Photography and Nazism.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the photographic culture of the Weimar Republic in the light of wider social, political and artistic developments.
  • Knowledge of the methodologies appropriate to the interpretation of individual images and groups of images.
  • Enhanced knowledge of the specialised language required to talk and write about visual culture in both English and German.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to interpret photographs in terms of their formal/ aesthetic properties.
  • The ability to analyse photographs in terms of their contexts of production and dissemination.
  • The ability to critically evaluate and apply a range of methodologies in order to perform the above analyses.
  • The ability to critically analyse the theoretical discourse to which photography has given rise.
Key Skills:
  • Enhanced range and fluency of expression in English and German.
  • The ability to formulate arguments coherently and to present them in written and oral form.
  • The ability to identify an appropriate set of research questions and to pursue a guided programme or self-directed study, leading to the production of an extended piece of written work.

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

  • The module will be taught be means of plenary sessions (structured round student presentations), seminars in which the issues raised in plenaries are subjected to more in-depth discussion, and supervisions in which plans for the project are discussed. Weekly reading in preparation for plenaries and seminars will foster the acquisition of the relevant subject-specific knowledge, and this knowledge will be further enhanced as students debate issues surrounding Weimar photography. Such debate will allow students to develop their analytic capacities and to explore a range of methodological approaches to the analysis of the photographic image. Conducting seminars largely in the target language will aid acquisition of the relevant critical vocabulary and discursive register, and oral presentations by students will help them develop skills in organising arguments and presenting them fluently. Supervisions will foster students' ability to plan and execute a programme of independent research.
  • Summative assessment will consist of a 1500-word commentary, based around a contextually-informed reading of a specfic image; and a 3500-word research project based on one of the topics covered in the course and structured round a series of research questions developed by the student in consultation with the tutor. Both exercises are designed to test students' subject-specific knowledge and their ability to use their subject-specific skills in order to evaluate this knowledge. The project will also test students' independent research skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 10 fortnightly 1 hour 10
Seminar 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Supervision 2 annually 0.5 hour 1
Student preparation and reading time 169
Total SLAT hours 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Commentary in English Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary in English 1500 words 100%
Component: Project in German Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project in German 3500 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