Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2016-2017 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (German)


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2016/17 Module Cap 45 Location Durham


  • Grade A in German at A level or an equivalent qualification


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: German Langauge 1A (post-A level) (GERM1011); Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • German Langauge 1B (ab initio) (GERM1112)


  • What does it mean to be German? This module examines concepts of German identity from the beginnings of modernity to the present day. Identity is itself a highly contested notion, especially in the German context, and German identity has been subject to numerous interpretations and represented in various ways.
  • Through study of a range of sources – texts, images, fiction and poetry, political writings, historical documents – students will become familiar with debates around ‘Germanness’ and German nationhood. Key issues to be explored will include nationalism and the making of the German nation; regional identities and shifting borders; Germany within Europe; modern urban culture in the major German cities; migration and diversity; and the relationships between nature, technology, science, and the environment throughout recent German history.


  • Areas and topics covered will vary from year to year, but will normally include a range of texts and source materials in various genres and media, including political writings, historical documents, fiction, poetry, and film.
  • The module will provide students with detailed and critical knowledge of the debates surrounding German identity and their political significance and implications, and will lay the skills foundation necessary to undertake research-led activities at second and final-year level.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will develop:
  • An understanding of debates around German identity and nationhood, and a knowledge of how these have played out in political, literary, and cultural discourse
  • Specific and critical knowledge of selected political writings, fiction and poetry, films, historical documents, and other relevant sources
  • An understanding of the relationship between shared historical experience, collective mentality, cultural identity, and political thought and action
  • An understanding of key events and experiences that have shaped German identity, and an ability to evaluate and analyse representations of these events in various media
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should have gained the ability to:
  • Critically analyse historical, political, literary, and visual texts
  • Understand shifting concepts of identity across different periods of German political and cultural history
  • Relate contemporary political debates, such as those around identity, migration, multiculturalism, and the environment, to their historical antecedents
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should have improved their:
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Ability to analyse, interpret, and contextualise historical sources and political and literary texts
  • Essay-writing, commentary and oral communication skills
  • Structuring of arguments
  • Independent learning and research
  • Ability to discuss topical or general issues with fluency

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

  • Teaching will take the form of 20 weekly lectures across terms 1 and 2, with a feedback and revision session in term 3, plus a fortnightly seminar.
  • 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 the fortnightly seminar, which will alternate guided discussions with formative group presentations, students will develop skills in independent learning, rapid critical reading, synthesis, analytical thinking, and the presentation of coherent argument.
  • Through reading and preparation of key texts in German, students will thus also increase their proficiency in the target language.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 weekly 1 Hour 21
Plenary Grammar Hour 10 fortnightly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Commentary Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary 1000-words 100% yes
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1500-words 100% Yes
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2-hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Regular programme of viewing and reading, alternating close analysis of key visual materials from the German-speaking countries with wider contextual / background reading in both English and German; class presentations; active participation in class discussion, based on weekly set tasks.

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