Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures


Type Open Level 1 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • This module is not designed for experienced linguists (e.g. those with A-Level German or equivalent, or a good working knowledge of Latin, Greek or other related languages). More experienced linguists should select MELA20030 (GERMAN READING SKILLS FOR RESEARCH 2)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • In accordance with the general aims of an Arts taught MA, to promote self-motivated study of German as a preliminary to, and as providing an essential tool for, research in the general field of History and other disciplines that require a reading knowledge of the German language.


  • Reading skills for academic German.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • demonstrate a knowledge and an understanding of the basic underlying German grammar;
  • demonstrate a knowledge of vocabulary used in German general academic discourse in Arts and Humanities.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • extract relevant information and understand original written sources in German with the requisite aids such as dictionaries, grammars and commentaries to hand.
  • acquire various reading strategies such as skimming and intensive reading
  • make effective use of reference materials such as grammars and dictionaries (standard and online)
  • use a range of language-learning techniques and skills by independently developing strategies to extend the lexis in their subject-area and their knowledge of grammar
  • translate short passages of academic or scholarly German writing into English
Key Skills:
  • At the end of the module students will have enhanced their ability to:
  • work as independent learners and researchers
  • use reference materials
  • apply reading skills and strategies effectively for academic purposes

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

  • This module is delivered through seminar style classes and one-to-one tutorials.
  • There will be two 1.5 hour seminars per week for 9 weeks in term 1and for 2 weeks in term 2.
  • In term 2 there will be 3 half-hour one-to-one tutorials for each student. Individual texts geared at the students’ research needs will be selected in collaboration with their dissertation supervisor.
  • In term 3 there will be a 1.5 hour revision seminar in week 1 and 2.
  • Contact time will be used to introduce grammar, vocabulary building and reading strategies and be structured around reading, formative tasks and engagement by the teacher with questions and problems raised by the students and arising from their private study. The emphasis will be on guided self-study and pair / group work in class.
  • Guided and independent self-study is an important element in order to achieve maximum exposure to German written sources and to accelerate the pace of learning.
  • In preparation for each session students will be expected to revise new material and complete formative language exercises, such as reading tasks or the translation of short passages, and appropriate to the progressive learning of the language.
  • In order to reflect the continuous nature of the language learning process the students will be monitored and assessed by a combination of formative and summative in-course assessment and by formal written examination.
  • Summative assessment will consist of two examinations, completed unseen, but with dictionaries, grammars and commentaries as appropriate.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 22 Weekly (term 1) + 2 weeks in term 2 1.5 hours 33
1-1 Tutorial 5 Weeks 1, 3, 4, 6 & 7 in term 2 0.5 hour 2.5
Revision Classes 2 2 revision classes in term 3 1.5 hours 3
Preparation and Reading 261.5

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination (Epiphany term) 2 hours 100% Yes
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination (Easter Term) 3 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students will be given independent learning tasks for each class and tutorial with teacher feedback.

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