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)


  • The impact of German culture extends far beyond Germany’s shifting borders. Key figures in German cultural and intellectual history – such as Goethe, Nietzsche, Kafka, Freud – profoundly shaped our understanding of the modern world. They did so primarily through the medium of writing.
  • This module aims to introduce students to some of the central concepts that have shaped writing and thinking in German from the age of Enlightenment to the present day.
  • Studying landmark texts in their cultural context, we explore relationships between fiction and truth; imagination and history; reading and morality. As we read these writings, we ask: What does reading do to us? What can we learn from novels? Why do we derive pleasure from theatre, cinema, spectacle? How does the significance of a text change over time?
  • The course stresses the fact that culture, literature, and thought are inseparably entwined.


  • Areas and topics covered will vary from year to year, but will normally include a range of texts in German, in various genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, and essays, from 1750 to the present day.
  • The module will provide students with a broad overview of approaches to German literature, culture, and intellectual history, 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 key literary and intellectual developments in German culture, from 1750 to the present
  • Specific and critical knowledge of landmark texts
  • An understanding of how literature contributes and responds to wider cultural and intellectual trends
  • An understanding of key concepts and debates (such as those around authorship and creativity, language and discourse, literature and morality) within literary and cultural studies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should have improved:
  • Critical analysis and close readings of literary texts
  • Ability to draw meaningful links between different periods in German cultural history
  • Ability to situate textual studies in relation to broader cultural issues
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should have improved:
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Ability to read and interpret complex texts written in German
  • 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 reading, alternating close reading/ textual analysis of key texts in German with wider contextual / background reading in both English and German; one class presentation per student per term; 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